Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Papaya Leaf, Marunouchi

Hands up, who remembers the Coneheads? Yeah, my hand's not really up either - that stuff was mainly before my time (or after it, if you consider that I've never been the type to stay up late enough to watch SNL). But I definitely remember that the early coneheads had a few catchphrases like "France...we are from France" and "Consume mass quantities". That's all I could think of today at the vaunted Papaya Leaf.

On a prior attempt, it was rainy and we reached El Loco Leafo a bit before 12. Recipe for disaster, that, and the line of 15+ made us keep walking. Today we arrived at 12:45 on a sunny day and there were plenty of seats. And plenty of strangely-voiced waitresses wearing ao dai, one of whom showed us to a table. The space is a bit southeast-Asian, which is in keeping with the subtitle "Asian Mart Dining", so there are a bunch of little nooks in which to get lost while eating your pho.

There's a bit of consistency there; the sign says Asian, but the waitresses and the abundance of pho will make you feel like you're back in Nam. Add on to that various curries, some Thai-style stir fries, and omelettes for everyone, and you've got the makings of a big, big, spicy lunch. They do seem to encourage sets; 鈴寺さん was feeling feisty and Queenslandic and insisted on going the full monte Papaya Set. This includes 4 starters (each a small item coming in a pair) like fresh spring roll, fried spring roll and fried fish cake, and then your choice from 6 mains (3 noodular, 3 ricific). She went, classically, with a chicken pho. I confess, we had far too much to talk about, so flavor never really entered the conversation.

I went the Asian Special Lunch, which was a similar amount of food but only Y1200, saving Y300 and hopefully a few calories. It included a dome of jasmine rice, an omelette (seemed like it had shrimp paste in it; very good!) and a small curry (can't remember the name for that sorta Indo-style coconut curry. Not Penang, not red or green...brown, coconutty, spicy) that was hot, milky, and well done. Other than these three, which were arrayed on a long plate, the tray contained an afterthought salad of undressed lettuces, a small bowl of cold rice noodles with mizuna, cucumber, boiled shrimp, boiled egg and vinegar, and a little coconut custard dessert.

I may never eat again. But if I do, and if I happen back to the area, I wouldn't mind visiting PL again. I'd stick to omelettes and curry though, as the noodles were pretty weak.

Hmmm, how can I continue the Ethnic theme all week after these consecutive days?

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