Jessie’s Kitchen: Asian Fusion or Asian Fission?
Sorry I’ve been quiet, all you readers who totally come to this site to check up on new SOMD fads. I’m back with a review of the new family owned (presumably) restaurant in Leonardtown: Jessie’s Kitchen.
I heard about Jessie’s Kitchen last week learning that it was next to the new Urban BBQ in Downtown Leonardtown. It was described to me as an Asian fusion restaurant and having had no heralding of their coming was quite curious. Looking at their menu, I found my curiosity turn to intrigue. They had a beer section with 21 varieties of craft and macro brews, mixing largely available favorites and some select local brews that I’d heard of in the area before. Alongside their beer list, they have a bevy of wines from specific vineyards and a number of spirits available for purchase as well. As a moderate drinker I was pretty excited to see a small place in Leonardtown with what I hoped to be an extensive bar with several taps of local craft brews ready to be poured out into chilled glasses that also served delicious Asian fusion food.
In their non-alcoholic section of drinks besides the standard soft drinks they had a mix of smoothies, milk teas, to which for a surcharge they would add tapioca “bubbles.” I was quite excited about this as I hadn’t had a good bubble tea drink since I’d gotten back from Houston at the beginning of the year and really found myself genuinely excited to give another local option a shot.
The food section of their menu really had me intrigued. They have a selection of small plates listed on their menu which threw me for a loop. I’ve had really good Dim Sum before, but I’ve never seen them described in English so I was taken aback when they arrived at the table. We had ordered their rendition of “Fried Sesame Balls” and I do have to say that they were some of the crispiest, chewiest, freshest fried, lotus paste filled balls I’ve ever had. My white friends who accompanied me had never had them before and were delighted with those along with the “Steamed Soup Pork Buns” that I ordered. The small plates ended up being a little pricier than I’d expect Dim Sum dishes to be, but considering the difficulty of acquiring that kind of food in this area, I was willing to at least try it. Having heard that the restaurant was of the Asian Fusion variety, I was hoping that there’d be some small twist on a classic found here but instead was presented with just decent representations of familiar Chinese dishes.
Since it was lunch time, our party opted to go for the noodle soup options, all ordering a variation on the Ramen Noodle soup with meat broth they offer. I myself ordered the bulgolgi on top, again hoping that a mix of Asian flavors would create something new and wonderful. The bulgolgi and ramen noodles mixed fairly well, the spicy sweet marinade of the meat doing the majority of the work in flavoring the noodles. The broth of the dish had me wishing it provided more flavor both in salt and savor. The bowl was filled with vegetables I wasn’t expecting like dried mushrooms, something akin to kale, and jalapeños. The half egg which I’m used to being soft boiled was fully boiled though one of my friends did get a less boiled egg so the consistency between dishes is something out for which a diner would have to watch. Overall the dish was still acceptable, probably a 6.5/10, but I think if the broth were more flavorful it would have taken everything up to a 7.5/10. Everything would have been better with a little more salt to the broth to liven up the flavors.
My tea drink came out in a stylish rectangular glass mug reminiscent of a mason jar. Unfortunately, I found it was much too sweet to make out the earthen aromas and flavors of the black tea I had ordered. That being said, what I really wanted was a vehicle to eat tapioca balls, which I did, as I sucked them up through the large straw provided. To be honest the tapioca was too mushy on the outside to my personal tastes but it was still passable.
The atmosphere of the place is really nice. It’s in a small space but they do what they can to make it seem larger than it is. Visible ducting above and false windows and mirrors on each side wall make for illusory space in either direction. The majority of the tables in the area appeared to be two-seaters with a monster table for multiple parties or one single large party in the middle. Service was on the slow side but very polite which I can afford them since it appears to be purely family run. The bar against the kitchen is actually quite small, most of the beers being stored in six pack containers in a refrigerated case in a corner and not actually on draft disappointingly.
Overall, the experience was enjoyable and I’d give it a 3.5/5. What I’ve found is a small seemingly family owned and operated restaurant that does Asian food passably well. It fits a trendy niche that I think will go over well with the hipster crowd in Leonardtown. I wish I had sampled some of the entrees the place had to offer as they did sound quite tasty, but I find that the current state of the menu has two separate sections: a section of Asian food such as bulgolgi, ramen and Dim Sum dishes, and a separate section filled with wraps, salads, shrimp toast and gnocchi. It feels like two distinct menus placed in one restaurant but there’s very little to no intersect. Instead of Asian Fusion they should probably advertise themselves as Asian Fission.