[Having a hard time trying to balance this blog, the NY Daily News blog, and copy editing cookbooks. I'm trying to come up with some kind of rotation by which none of them is neglected for too long. We'll see. One good thing for With Leftovers is that I can't barrage the News with stuff from lower Manhattan without end, so I think a lot of that stuff will wind up here, which is largely read (read? really?) by people hereabouts.]
I really miss Thai on Clinton. It was our go-to on nights when I was in too bad a mood to cook, a rare thing, or there was something super important going on, like the Rangers playing the Ducks. (That lamest NHL team name ever, except for collective names like the Colorado Avalanche. The Rangers had a t-shirt a while back that said I Am A Ranger, translated into all the different languages spoken by the guys on the team How do you do that with a collective? You don't, that's how).
ToC was bought out by a chain, which promptly dropped my favorite, peanut dumplings. Soon, the food went altogether slipshod, and we stopped ordering. This was followed by Eastern Parkway or Road or Bypass; it was not open long enough for its name to register. There was a fair bit of blog chatter about it, but it sank without trace in less than a month.
Now, we have Pa-Plern, which opened last week. Ordering was a struggle, as the phone-order taker had little English. She called us back three times to explain things about our order that I might not have understood that I had already explained I understood. Repeatedly. It was rather entertaining, but it won't be next time.
We ordered three apps from the Appetizer Sampler menu (3/$13, 4/$16. 5/$15): peanut dumplings (yay!), curry puffs, and crispy basil duck roll, as well as beef satay and summer rolls from the regular app menu.
The entire order, save the summer roll, was jumbled together unappetizingly in a single takeout container. The sauces were thoughtfully labelled to indicate what went with what, though, a nice little touch.
Peanut dumpling was first up. Smaller, sloppier than ToC, but still quite tasty, with that wonderful glutinous mouthfeel. I could eat a double order of these for dinner, and probably shall quite soon.
Curry puffs were tender and mild, with a delicious (but perhaps not altogether appropriate) hoisin-ish sauce topped with peanuts.
The crispy basil duck roll looked more like a Turkish sigara boregi than a roll. It was nice and crisp, the duck a bit dry, but reasonably well flavored, except for the curious muteness of the basil.
The vegetarian summer rolls were a mess. They were poorly wrapped and flavorless, and their primary component was iceberg lettuce. One contained tofu, the other didn't. They fell completely apart at first bite.
Throughout the meal, I tried to keep in mind that the place had been open less that a week, and that it had returned peanut dumplings to my life. I look forward to Pa-Plem passing through the usual new restaurant growing pains, and turning into a regular go-to to go.
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