BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT - 2003
There are a lot of tasty Vietnamese dining spots around town (and certainly Quang, which shares an "Eat Street" address with this year's winner, deserves a mention), but there's something about the hole-in-the-wall Jasmine Deli that gives it the edge in this competitive category. Packed during the lunch hour with MCAD students, Minneapolis Institute of Arts staffers, and downtown denizens escaping skyway fare, this joint jumps--thanks to a hard-working (if sometimes overwhelmed) crew. Bánh mì, tasty Vietnamese sandwiches on French rolls stuffed with everything from shredded pork to mock duck, are a satisfying on-the-run choice. But if you're in the mood for something more substantial, tuck into one of Jasmine's famous big (and seemingly bottomless) bowl soups. Rich, homemade broth comes with assorted herbs, bean sprouts, and fluffy noodles (egg, rice, or wonton). The same noodles are also found in salads served with an accent of roasted peanuts and traditional house sauce. Wash everything down with a refreshing Vietnamese iced latte or sweet soy bean drink and enjoy the fact that all this good eating will cost you surprisingly little. If space becomes available, Jasmine may well become Quang-sized. But in the meantime this plucky enterprise's fare is full of big aspirations.