Jasmine Restaurant

jasmine Seafood Restaurant
There's many Chinese restaurants in San Diego, but 3 rise above the rest: Jasmine Restaurant, China Max and the Emerald. All three restaurants offer great food but the Jasmine is more well known, more popular, more prestigious, and is just the place to be when it comes to Chinese food. When January / February approaches, think of the Jasmine for amazing Chinese New Year lion dancing.

jasmine Seafood Restaurant

The Food

Jasmine restaurant serves up very good Hong Kong style Chinese food at a slightly high price. The food is fresh, made to order, arrives quickly, and tastes good. So yes, why not pay a few bucks extra for quality and convenience.

Like many Chinese restaurants, entrees are large and are to be shared. Expect to order one dish per adult plus one more dish if you are ravenously hungry. Carbos such as noodles and rice come as a mound whereas seafood comes as smaller, delicately arranged dishes.

On average, seafood dishes are about $17, while chicken, pork and beef dishes run at about $15 per plate. There's quite a good selection of soups: from your basic Won Ton Soup to the more exotic Shark Fin Soup. Soups go for $4 per person or get a big bowlful at $13. Entrees are marked as "spicy" and you can specify the level of spiciness between 1 and 10. Only 3 desserts on the menu - but that's OK you're there for the great Chinese food and not for a dessert extravaganza.

Jasmine restaurant offers Dim Sum everyday from 10 am to 3 pm (if you don't know what Dim Sun is, read about it here). Dim Sum dishes are grouped by letter:

Group A:$3 sweet dessert-type of stuff, pork, chicken and beef items
Group B: $4
Group C: $4+ mostly seafood items
Group D: $5
Group E:
and specialty items
includes pig feet, beef tripe, chicken feet, jelly fish, calamari and such.

jasmine Seafood Restaurant

The Establishment

Jasmine restaurant is located on Convoy street, but the entrance is behind the building (where the parking lot is located). When you enter (through the back door, so to speak), you will find a spacious lobby with a large chandelier imported from Hong Kong.

The dining room is spacious and has hues of gold and deep red. There is a comfortable amount of Asian artifacts but mainly, it's big. Really big: it seats 450 people.

Hostesses are dressed in lovely Cheongsams Chinese gowns which add to the general look and feel. On the ceiling is an elaborate set of lights and speakers suggesting that they may have dancing and live music. Though I have never seen this yet - it may be for private functions only.

The dining room can be partitioned to give semi-private sections suitable for wedding banquets and business gatherings. There are 4 fish tanks where live fish and seafood are stored before they are prepared for you. Well - you do want it fresh, don't you? Service is generally good but not lavish.

No kids meal, though high chairs and boosters available. Full bar.

Summary: Jasmine Restaurant is a solid, good Chinese food restaurant. Its strong points include dim sum everyday; huge impressive dining room, good food, and it's popularity. It's just the place to be: everyone knows Jasmine and that in itself is an attraction.

jasmine Seafood Restaurant

Chinese New Year

During Chinese New Year (late January or early February), Jasmine invites lion dancers to perform at the restaurant. Lion dancing is usually performed outdoors, so this performance in the confines of the dining room is extra dramatic. It is loud, it is dynamic, and it never fails to please.

If you have children under 5 years old, be aware that they may be scared both by the loud drums and/or the animated lion dancers. Older children will delight in "feeding" the lions red envelopes with lucky money inside. The restaurant and lion dancers will provide the red envelopes but you get to provide the dollar bills - consider it a tip for the young men and women under the lion head.

Typically, lion dancers will arrive 30 minutes before showtime. You may go outside to see them and take photos. You will know that the show has started when the drummers start drumming. Numerous lions (as many as 12 lions) will enter and parade up and down the aisle in between the tables. After a while, the lions will gather around a head of lettuce (with an accompanying red envelope) strung from the ceiling. One of the lions will make big show of retrieving the lettuce and then giving thanks. A final round of lion dancing, and then they're gone. It's a high energy show with lots of shaking and shimmering.

What do you do while the lion dancers are doing their thing? Eat, of course! Jasmine restaurant offers a special Chinese New Year menu which serves 10 or more people.

Location and Parking:

Jasmine Restaurant
4609 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111
see map
see Jasmine menu ($12 to $20 per entree)
see Dim Sum menu ($3 to $8 per dish)
see banquet menu ($200 to $1000 per 10 people)
Free parking available though the lot cannot accommodate 450 people. Park along Convoy street or in adjacent lots if possible.