Growing up in North Kingstown, I was no stranger to Asian food. My grandparents often took my brother and me to Jade Palace, which inexplicably served Parker House Rolls before the meal. We loved getting the Pu Pu Platter for two, mostly because the Sterno flame in the middle of the platter was fun, and we loved saying Pu Pu. In high school, my friends and I hung out in East Greenwich at Cathay Garden. For $5, we had our fill of beef teriyaki sticks and crab rangoons from the buffet. Since then, I’ve eaten at far superior Chinese food restaurants with my brother in the cities where he has lived – Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. Rhode Island still has its share of hole-in-the-wall Asian spots, but Jacky Ko of Jacky’s Restaurants revolutionized Chinese dining here, and now his cousin Jason Ko has brought Jacky’s concept to East Greenwich.
Jason’s Restaurant and Sushi Bar is located in the former spot of Butcher Block Meats (across from the Benny’s Plaza) on Post Road. The restaurant borrows many features from Jacky’s more upscale restaurants (as opposed to his Galaxie chain). The light fixtures are identical, and the meticulous stonework adorning the walls in the dining room is also familiar. Even the menus can be placed side-by-side and matched up tit for tat – right down to the leather embossed covers. The similarities are not bad things; Jacky’s is one of my favorite places to eat. Since Jason’s isn’t quite as grand as the Jacky’s Waterplace and Sushi Bar in Providence or the Mineral Spring Avenue location in North Providence, the prices are generally a little less expensive. The good news is, despite the lower prices, the food at Jason’s is just as good.
I met my mother at Jason’s for a lunch over my spring vacation. From 11:30am-3pm, Monday-Saturday, Jason’s offers lunch specials. For $7.50, you can choose one entrée, that is accompanied by three chicken fingers and either white rice, brown rice or plain fried rice. With 40 entrée choices, you can’t go wrong. There are also specials available from the sushi bar, which include one of their specialty rolls accompanied by either soup or salad. That price varies depending on the roll you select.
Since I was on vacation, I started with a Pineapple Mojito ($8). It was sweet, tasty and served in a large hurricane glass. My mother was in the middle of her workday, so she opted for a pot of Oolong Tea ($1). It was piping hot, served in delicate ceramic tea cups and she was thrilled with it. To start our meal, we shared a trio of appetizers. We both love Shrimp Nime Chow ($5), and this version was well executed. The ingredients were fresh, and the peanut dipping sauce was per fect. We also tried the Scallion Pancakes ($5.50), and they were everything you are looking for in a scallion pancake – crisp on the outside and slightly doughy in the middle with lots of good scallion flavor coming through. Lastly, we wanted to try something from the sushi bar. Jason’s offers a wide variety of sushi options, including 23 special fusion roll choices, but my mother is still a sushi newbie, so we didn’t go too crazy with our ordering. We stuck with the classic Spicy Shrimp Maki ($6). Again, we commented on how fresh all of the ingredients were in our roll. If you’ve never tried sushi before, the Spicy Shrimp maki is a good beginner choice. It’s simply cooked shrimp, avocado, tobiko (fish roe) and a spicy mayonnaise. If you’re more adventurous, Jason’s has you covered too. The Lobster Passion Roll ($15) includes tempura lobster, avocado, pineapple, cream cheese, mayo, wonton skin, yellow soy paper and it’s served with lobster sauce and blueberry mix.
When it came time to order our entrées, our poor waitress was beside herself that we didn’t want the luncheon specials. We were both looking for leftovers to enjoy later in the week; otherwise we would have picked the specials. I ordered what the menu called the restaurant’s “most popular dish,” which was General Tso’s Chicken ($13). Despite there being a chili pepper on the menu warning me the dish was spicy, this version of General Tso’s was more sweet than spicy. However, what made this dish jump above most other versions was the quality of the chicken. Some Asian restaurants bank on you not noticing the gristly, unappetizing meat by camouflaging it with heaps of sauce and thick deep fried batter. Not at Jason’s; the chicken didn’t need to hide. I had plenty to enjoy that day and also plenty to take home for a future lunch. My mother wanted to try something different and ordered the Grilled Chicken and Crispy Shrimp ($17). She received two large, sliced chicken cutlets delicately covered with Jason’s teriyaki sauce and a mound of fried shrimp. There was a bowl of spicy, sweet and sour sauce on the side. The sauce was delicious, and I loved how they wisely chose to serve it on the side. Both meals were served with large bowls of white or brown rice and steamed broccoli.
Jacky Ko has been changing Asian cuisine in Rhode Island for decades now. In North Providence, he actually has two restaurants succeeding less than a mile apart. With restaurants in Cumberland, Bristol, North Providence and Downtown Providence, it was about time for the empire to expand to southern Rhode Island. Jason’s might not have the same name, but it has the same excellent quality Jacky’s has been known for. The next time you’re in the mood for sushi, wonton soup or chicken wings (I recommend them with the oyster sauce), give it a try. If my fortune from my lunch date is any indication, you just might see me there because I “will live a long life and eat many fortune cookies.”
5647 Post Rd, East Greenwich. 398-0388