Culinary Culver City: Jasmine

First thing’s first – if you’re planning a hot first date, Jasmine probably isn’t the ideal venue for that initial meet-up. By which we mean that, while the vibe is friendly, the environment warm and the staff welcoming, the place is very basic. Tatty menus with yellowed photos adorn the walls and windows, the service is cafeteria-style, and the food is served in and on Styrofoam plates and bowls. Fancy it is not!

But once you get past that, not a particularly difficult task if you’re in the right frame of mind, then the food here is top-notch. Jasmine serves Burmese and Indian cuisine, meats and vegetables marinating for hours in fragrant herbs and spices which make this little hole in the wall joint smell like heaven.

Having never sampled Burmese food before, these taste buds couldn’t tell you if there are massive differences to Indian food from the various regions, but it tastes fantastic. In addition, the “lunch special” prices are very reasonable, clocking in between $6 and $8.

We went for the lamb curry plate, which is served with rice, a vegetable side dish, a salad, and naan bread, which seems like a lot of food for the $7.99. The curry itself is wonderful; rich and aromatic, and spiced enough to tingle without burning (of course, the appropriate level of spiciness is entirely subjective, but it works for us).

The lamb is cooked on the bone, so it remains juicy and tender. It might not be the best cut of meat, but it’s also not fatty or tough so it’s far from the worst.

The vegetables on the side are in a creamier sauce – the flavor is lighter but no less enjoyable. The two sauces complement each other wonderfully. The salad, which is a sort of coleslaw, is an unusual side for someone used to Indian food, but the vinegar-based dressing does work as a palate-cleanser.

The rice, basmati we think, is light and fluffy and, between that and the warm, crisp naan bread, there is plenty to mop and soak up the sauces that are left when the meat and vegetables are gone.

Overall, the prices at Jasmine are reasonable, the portions are decent without being over-facing, the place is basic but clean, and the service is pleasant. We’ll be going again.

Jasmine is located at 4135 Sepulveda Blvd; 310-313-3767. Closed Mondays. Open every other day, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.