In the patch of Belmont-Cragin north of the Brickyard Mall, the Thai selection is rather slim. Residents have taken a moderate liking to Jasmine Rice, a Thai and Japanese eatery set behind Steinmetz Academic Centre and just before the Chicago Public Library's West Belmont Branch.
Outside the outdoor mall, not much entertaining occurs in this area, so you'll find the Jasmine Rice option less trendy and more about the menu. No groups of girlfriends watching waistlines and asking for off-the-menu creations. No local celebrity sightings or prices shooting through the roof. The delivery and take-out options keep most folks situated just fine in their complex apartments or landmark bungalows. That said, it's the perfect homework hotspot for the high school kid hip to pan-Asian and not bad for a low-key date, although we wouldn't recommend it as a first-date choice.
Inside, orchids and unfamiliar plants do their best to filter the air of an undetermined scent that doesn't seem to involve food. Sunlight streams through inviting windows while rectangular cloth lanterns dangle atop tables draped and set. Appropriate artwork hangs on amber washed walls framed by wood paneling, and knickknacks dot every available space.
While you'll find sushi on the menu, anyone familiar with the uncooked version will be mostly discontent with the cooked-only options surfacing here. The Thai choices fare better with popular dishes including the pad lard nar and pad Thai. The server, usually just one small woman holding down the fort, spoke highly of the pineapple-fried rice ($7.95). The menu also houses a decent amount of duck dishes, for anyone who gets into that kind of thing.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez