Locale Profile: Jason’s Asian Grille and Sushi Bar

sushi

 

Jason’s Asian Grille and Sushi Bar opened its doors last month with little fanfare during this miserable, cold winter. When I first saw their sign go up, I felt a tinge of disappointment around yet another sushi bar dominating the Asian food scene. Where’s the Thai restaurant? How about some Vietnamese Pho? We already have prominent sushi/hibachi restaurants: the venerable Kon Asian Bistro and the newer Raku Sakura both seem to offer enough options to satisfy all types of sushi lovers. While they do have other Asian items on their menus, I’ve sampled many and have been less than impressed with both the selection and the taste. As one of those rare middle-class suburbanites who doesn’t like sushi, I’ve been waiting for a great pan-Asian restaurant to open its doors in EG; hence my frustration at the thought of another sushi grille (Don’t blame me for that unnecessary “e”).

Imagine my surprise and delight to learn that Jason’s is actually a wonderful pan-Asian restaurant disguised as a sushi bar (ok, not really, but it’s much more than just sushi). The owner, Jason Ko, is related to Jacky Ko, of the Jacky’s Galaxie chain of Asian restaurants. If you’ve ever been to a Jacky’s, you know you’re in for tasty Asian food at a reasonable price. While it’s not Chinatown quality, it’s pretty damn good by Rhode Island standards.

I started by ordering take-out one lazy Sunday night. I opted for the stir-fried baby bok-choy with garlic, which was cooked to perfection and not drowning in sauce (the fate of too many Asian vegetable dishes). I also tried the cod fish with general Tao’s sauce – tender flaky fish deep fried and sautéed in a sweet, spicy thick sauce. So far, so good.

Next up: dining in. My husband and I took our two boys to the fairly empty but elegantly decorated restaurant. The décor is bright and modern, and the bar looked like the perfect place to meet friends for drinks. At the entrance was the obligatory fish tank, which always befuddles me. I don’t want to see cows grazing outside an Outback Steakhouse; why would I want to see fish swimming in a sushi place?

Like any restaurant experience with two children, alcohol was an absolute must. I started (and ended) with the scorpion bowl. Once its trough-like container arrived, I asked for a second straw … and it was a good thing as that drink contained enough alcohol to satisfy a frat house. A few sips in and I didn’t mind that my kids were playing with the orange fish eggs that adorned my husband’s sushi and commandeered them as pets. My 5-year-old even named his eggs – welcome to the family Nemo!

I started with the hot and sour soup, which was delicious, but neither hot nor sour enough for my taste. That said, I’m sort of a hot and sour soup snob and haven’t found too many places that do it perfectly. My kids loved their miso soup and my husband declared his egg-striped sushi to be fresh and delicious. We also ordered the lettuce cups, which, unlike those at PF Changs, come ready-made and sitting atop a deep fried wonton – a little messy to eat but outstanding. We all split the fried bean curd with spicy garlic sauce, which was cooked well, but not terribly spicy. (Lesson learned — Ask for extra spicy). Finally we got my favorite Asian staple: fried rice. This dish was simple but perfect and flavorful with a generous mix of chicken, shrimp, pork and beef.

We left, full, slightly drunk (me, not the kids), and one family member stronger thanks to our new fish egg Nemo, who didn’t last the two-minute ride home. As for Jason’s, I’m thrilled to have a new spot in town that satisfies both my craving for dependable and tasty Asian take-out, and my need to hit a new spot for dinner and drinks.

Jason’s Asian Grille and Sushi Bar, 5647 Post Rd, East Greenwich

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