Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
There’s something reassuring about seeing restaurateurs consuming their own wares. Workers need to eat and, whilst many chow down in some back room, others...
Moglai Chicken

There’s something reassuring about seeing restaurateurs consuming their own wares. Workers need to eat and, whilst many chow down in some back room, others fuel up more conspicuously. It’s not uncommon, for example, to see the friendly staff in the Hong Kong Express at Ryde sitting down to a meal alongside their customers, and indeed as the kitchen is on show there it wouldn’t make much difference if they did eat out the back – you could see them anyway.

What’s even more reassuring is when a chef feeds their own folk in the restaurant. Such was the case when Matt and Cat dropped into Jasmine, the little family-run Indian restaurant in Regent Street, Shanklin. Your reviewers were pleased to see a cheery little lad who, once he’d finished his dinner, toddled off the to the kitchen to see his daddy. Another visiting young lady was celebrating her 10th birthday – or so the balloons and cards seemed to indicate; her trip to the Jasmine an exotic treat compared to the usual ‘happy meal’ parties for children her age.

However, this is not to say that the service was anything less than professional. Matt and Cat were greeted and seated at a spacious table, and although there followed quite a wait whilst the solitary waiter attended to his other charges, once he’d sorted them out the service became very prompt and accurate. This brief hiatus allowed Matt and Cat to study the interior which, they noted, had not entirely succumbed to the ‘curries-R-us’ model of laminate flooring and high-backed leather chairs. The patterned carpet was similar to that in the defiantly old skool Bahar – what would this mean for the food itself?

The yellow yolky stuff (what is that?) was exquisitely garlicky.

The diners were very pleased to get three hot and freshly-cooked poppadums with some really good chutneys – considerably better than usual. It’s normal to be served mango chutney that is simply a kind of brownish syrupy paste but, at Jasmine, great chunks of fruit dwelt enticingly within a very fresh and sweet sauce. Similarly, lime pickle is traditionally an ear-reddening blast of homogenised chilli and salt, leavened by the vague scent of a lime. Not so at Jasmine where a cornucopia of tastes and textures enlivened the powerful condiment; these included peas, carrots, chillies and, of course, lime. The yellow yolky stuff (what is that?) was exquisitely garlicky.

The menu offered all the regular favorites. Tandoori dishes (including tandoori king prawn, creatively described as baby lobster), biriani and khorma vied with chop pillau and a range of Persian dishes. There wasn’t much for vegetarians but the waiter assured Matt and Cat that, as all meals were freshly cooked, a meatless course could be made. Matt decided to go straight for Britain’s national meal – the celebrated chicken tikka masala.

Chicken tikka masala

Although he normally prefers a dryer curry, he was not disappointed with his choice. Great chunks of tasty chicken tikka were splendidly presented on an intriguing heated platter, and swathed in a sweet and spicy sauce. Although it was surprisingly red in colour, it looked good and tasted better.

Cat was pleased to see moglai chicken on the menu and, having pretended that she might consider other dishes, eventually stopped toying and plumped for the moglai. Decent-sized chunks of chicken turned up in a rich and exceptionally creamy sauce, the difference from the chicken tikka masala being a yellowish colour, a few crunchy cashews, and a slightly milder flavour. It was delightful, although extraordinarily rich – this was, the waiter elucidated, due to the combination of cream and ground nuts. Between them M & C tempered their curries with a mushroom bhaji side-dish, giving a necessary injection of texture to these two sweet, creamy meals.

As this pleasant evening drew to a close, the restaurant emptied until, as Matt and Cat sat back to ruminate, they found themselves to be the remaining patrons. As the friendly waiter cleared away the plates (obligingly offering to parcel the remains of Cat’s moglai chicken to be consumed another day), they fell into conversation. He turned out to be a local fellow and was most forthcoming. After a good chat Matt and Cat left feeling not only replete with good food, but also as though they’d been made very welcome by an attentive host. The Jasmine is a small, good and very homely restaurant which offered excellent value for money – recommended.

  • Alex Grayson says:

    Recently visited Jasmine, staff were very welcoming, waitress suggested new dishes, stuffed with lamb and fresh pineapple, the Indian dish I’ve ever had and my husband enjoyed his chicken deluxe. I would really recommend it.

  • Sue Bennett says:

    Called in for a take away, long time to answer, when they finally did answer, a rude lady answered and took half my order then said “We’ll call back later” Before abruptly hanging up. When they called back 20 MINUTES LATER I had to repeat my whole order. Over an hour later (I’m a local, live nearby in Ventnor) The food arrived late, the person who delivered it apologized and took the money (heavily overpriced for low quality food) The food was stone cold and bland. My husband and I both ordered Moglai chicken as well as being cold was very bland with no flavor. As an amateur Indian cook and a knowledgeable taster of foreign foods, I would rate this restaurant *. I will not be coming here again and will advise others not to waste their money, maybe eat in will be better, but I don’t want to waste my money to find out.

  • steve says:

    Jasmine is the best..awesome food and service. I would say worth visiting.

  • david burnige says:

    Refused a table last night even tho half empty.

  • Anton says:

    great food, i was in the jasmine last night having a meal, such a shame that foy sal has left, does anyone know where he is working now ? i would love to see him again. or send him a christmas card.

  • Duncster says:

    We were staying at the nearby Appuldurcombe Caravan site so decided to get a takeaway and I sumbled upon this place. The staff were friendly – with complimentary popadum and a beer while I was waiting. Unfortunately, the food quality was poor. The saag gosht was bland and not very tasty – the onion bahji and chicken mekanhi had far too much ghee – and again was bland. Mushroom fried rice was nice though. Not a good takeaway by my local standards in Manchester. Off out tonight for a sit in meal so will try spice lounge instead.

  • kj says:

    Jasmine is the second best curry house in Shanklin……well ahead of Purple Mango

  • Big Eater says:

    to: Jackie Farrel
    Lack of parking !? they are on Regent Street, loads of free parking as all the shops are shut.
    I can usually park outside and much easier to park than Chutney or Spice lounge.
    Always really good food and always usually receive free poppadoms and onion salad which is nice – even with small orders.
    The manager is super friendly although last 2 times there was a new guy on the front counter and I haven’t received the usual freebies and who isnt as welcoming or friendly as the manager Im afraid – a little surly, shame, as I tried being as polite as possible.
    But will always recommend Jasmine

  • Jasmine Rahman says:

    I’m Jasmine I am the inspiration for Jasmine indian cusine I’m born in 1999 I’m Asian. My dad makes great currys my favourite is king prawn jalfeesêê
    we just got it decorated and renovated, it looks great

  • Jackie Farrel says:

    My family and i had a smashing meal here recently whilst on holiday. Generous portions with loads of flavour. Staff very friendly and helpful. I shall make a point to return when i come back to the Isle of Wight. Only problem I can see is lack of parking.

  • Billy the Kid says:

    I think it is gorgeous.
    Best Indian on the island.
    If he delivers to Spain i will have a take away.
    Let me know please.

    The Masala is gorgeous.
    The Korma is gorgeous, and that special lamb meal i never remember what is called… thats gorgeous too, as is the rice, the bombay potatoes, the bread with meat in the middle… oh yes, and the popodoms. very very nice.

  • Violet says:

    Definately go to the Jasmine Indian,
    The food is absoloutley delicious, the staff are wonderful, especially the cheff who i had to ask too see to thank him for giving me such a luxurious taster of the Indian cuisine. He is a calm and friendly man with an amazing ability to personalize a meal for you… check it out for yourself:)

  • vicky says:

    We have lived on the island for 10 months now having moved from London, and after having sampled a million take aways and restaurants in London, I have to say I rate the Jasmine very highly. We have had both take aways at home and meals in the restaurant and been very impressed with all the meals we have had. The food is fresh and portions well sized. The staff are absolutely delightful, so friendly and attentive and I would definitely recommend it.

  • Ramesh says:

    Ate there in Feb 2009 and I have to say I was far from impressed, the meals were bland, the emphasis being on quantity not quality, the chicken used was either pre prepared chicken tikka that had been sliced and simply added to the meal or bland precooked chicken that was given no time to absorb any of the flavours of the dish. The sauce had been artificially thickened which gave it a gloopy appearance and texture, obviously an attempt to replicate a thick sauce but without the effort.

    If you are looking for an authentic taste of indian food then I would not go to the jasmine.

    The only plus I can think off is that the cobra beer was nicely chilled.

  • John & Kathy says:

    We visited Jasmines in January 2009. The service was friendly and the food was tasty and fresh. Well worth a visit.

  • Lesley says:

    We have never had a bad meal at the Jasmine. The food is on par with mainland restaurants and if we lived nearer, would frequent more regularly. Portions are good and the price is comparable with restaurants in London and Portsmouth. We love it!!

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