With a prime location on Southampton’s glamorous Ocean Village Marina, the upmarket Southeast Asian Blue Jasmine restaurant is a delight for all who visit. Blending superb cuisine with stylish interiors, the young restaurant offers an enchanting fine dining experience, from the sumptuous starters to the signature Sarawak black pepper roasted duck dish to the impressive mains and expertly crafted desserts and well-chosen wines.
Blue Jasmine started off on a rocky patch with the restaurant refurbished to a high standard and opening in February 2020. We all know what came next, but the lengthy lockdowns didn’t deter the team at the restaurant, and it is back doing what it always planned to do – serving fine contemporary cuisine to couples, friends, families, locals and visitors alike in its plush environment. The kitchen team is led by executive head chef Daren Liew, who has honed his skills in pivotal roles in high-end and Michelin kitchens including Hakkasan London and Duddell’s London.
I headed along to Blue Jasmine for an evening of pure indulgence – there’s no other way to do it here – back in June and came away with not only a rather full stomach, but also a strong desire to return as soon I possibly could.
Upon arrival I was shown around the restaurant and just loved the interiors; plenty of wood, marble and blue tones can be seen around the spacious restaurant and bar, which is split into areas boasting trendy feature lighting and a range of seating styles. A private dining room holds a large table, armchairs and a screen for that special intimate event or celebration. The interiors have been designed by the owners who have done an incredible job, from the glassware and plates to the modish ladies’ toilets to the overall aesthetic, which houses a welcoming and buzzy atmosphere.
I was sat at a table overlooking the chic marina through the large windows and wasted no time in poring over the menu, which offered a fantastic selection of Southeast Asian dishes to choose from with some interesting explanations behind them. In that moment, I was very grateful for the fact that I had a dining partner with me for the evening so that we could order a range of the mouth-watering dishes to share.
Our starter selection consisted of Ying Yang prawn with kaffir lime dressing; black pepper butter crab, fried soft shell crab; fried homemade pumpkin tofu, polenta coated tofu with soya seaweed floss; and an additional pork belly dish with barbecue sauce, crispy lotus flower and haricot beans that chef Daren brought out.
The pork dish was a plate of sticky, sweet flavours with a sumptuous umami, while the juicy, meaty, succulent prawn – coated in a light crispy batter and accompanied by a sweet sauce – was pure perfection. The tofu had a soft, juicy, egg-like texture – not a texture that I loved so much – and the chunky pieces were coated in a dry, sweet dust, which I couldn’t eat too much of. The crab was crispy, sweet, juicy and very moreish, we could have easily devoured more, but we knew more good things were on their way.
Perhaps it was an indulgent addition to the meal – a serving of the signature duck – but I was glad I didn’t miss out on trying this – almost every member of the friendly and accommodating staff we spoke to encouraged us to try it, after all! Not just your typical duck with pancakes, the Sarawak black pepper roasted duck with pancake is a world-renowned dish with a selection of Southeast Asian spices including the famous Sarawak black pepper found only in the deep forests of east Malaysia.
The dish is 72 hours in the making; the duck is air dried overnight, which creates a delicate crispy skin and is served with homemade pancakes, baby cucumber, spring onion and a hand-crafted condiment using hawthorn jelly that adds even more layers of flavour. The texture of the duck is like something I have never experienced – it was buttery smooth and so lean, and the skin retained all of the beautiful flavours. The black pepper sauce added a kick, while the sweet jelly added a sweet element and though I usually discard duck skin, I wouldn’t dare here – it was too delicious to leave; this is the best duck pancake dish I have devoured and can only describe it as perfection on a platter.
We still had plenty of food to come and our main course dishes consisted of crispy honey soya chicken with caramelised sesame cashew nut as well as Hampshire rib eye beef with black garlic and Sha Cha sauce. We accompanied these dishes with dark soya fried rice with prawn and Sakura shrimp and a serving of tender stem broccoli with garlic sauce.
The sticky chicken with crunchy outer was utterly gorgeous and full of flavour with sticky cashews, pine nuts, pomegranate and edamame beans topping this off very well. Sha Cha sauce is the chef’s enhanced interpretation of a traditional Malaysian and Indonesian satay sauce, a modern preparation that has been years in development. The sauce along with black garlic topped off the melt-in the-mouth beef perfectly, and the rice, with big, juicy prawns and salty soy flavour, was a lovely accompaniment.
We were struggling to finish after such a load of flavoursome food, we had really indulged and were so full but happy, we hate to leave a morsel as it was so utterly tasty, so we slowed down and savoured all that we could. We took a little break before convincing ourselves (and being convinced by our waitress) that we had to try a dessert and savoured the rest of our bottle of fruity Enrique Mendoza Pinot Noir.
We shared the Blue Jasmine orb; a gold sphere with walnut, yogurt, biscuit, citrus jelly, candied zests, air-dried raspberry and blood orange sorbet. From the fruity, tangy blood orange sorbet to the gold chocolate shell with tiny biscuit pieces, little jelly cubes, and popping candy hidden away, it was a memorable dish and a very uplifting way to end what was a truly fantastic meal.
A meal here comes highly recommended from me, but if you’re looking for a different kind of experience then Blue Jasmine has recently launched a series of wine tasting experiences led by the resident sommelier. This month also saw the launch of the restaurant’s duck and Champagne experience in partnership with Champagne Louis Roederer, offering patrons the perfect opportunity to sample the delightful duck in a special menu alongside some of the finest fizzes.
In a nutshell
The quality of the food being served up at Blue Jasmine is high. Expect something special when you dine here, as once you’ve been and indulged in some of the amazing special courses and customer favourites, you will no doubt be bringing your friends and family here for all the special occasions and long overdue catch ups over some pretty sublime plates of food. It’s definitely the next big place to dine at in Southampton.
Opening hours: Monday – closed, Tuesday to Thursday – 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to late, Friday to Sunday – 12pm to late.
Address: Unit 3-4 Alexandra Wharf, Maritime Walk, Ocean Way, Southampton, SO14 3QS
Tel: 023 8063 6387
Image credits: Adrienne Photography/Blue Jasmine.