Monday, July 13, 2009

Asian Sundays

According to former-Times-writer/current-cookbook-writer/DavidChang-confidant/hippie-dippy-foodie/brother-of-famed-cocktail-maestro-Jim Meehan Peter Meehan, a meal at Pacificana, in Sunset Park, is best enjoyed with the dim sum throngs on weekend mornings.  It isn't to say that Pacificana doesn't have anything to offer beyond congee and dumplings, but evidently the cart game is their specialty.  Oh, that and the $30/lb. king crab, prepared in a 4-course meal, dinner only.  Average weight of a king crab: 7 lbs.  

Anyway, obviously it wasn't a king crab kind of night, and we missed the boat on dim sum.  That didn't keep us from the cavernous, banquet hall-style Pacifica, where we were the only white people in a sparsely seated dining room.  Like most dim sum restaurants, Pacifica presents a regal touch: chandeliers, white linen, servers in tuxedos, non-disposable chopsticks, bright red walls.  I could imagine a bustling brunch somewhat resembling a wedding. 

We started with small cups of wonton soup.  The wontons were delicately wrapped and full of all kinds of hidden gems, like chopped shrimp.  The broth tasted like it came from actual chickens and the bok choy floating therein gave the soup crunch.  To satisfy the health nut in me, I ordered a plate of sauteed mixed vegetables: broccoli, green peppers, snow peas, bamboo shoots, cucumber, and celery.  They were tossed in some kind of delicate salty white sauce, not the gooey glop that so often accompanies mediocre Chinese.  Next up, the star of the evening: manila clams in a brown sauce sizzling on their hot plate atop tiny bundles of rice noodles.  The noodles had literally been bound unto themselves. When I bit into these hot packages, they pulled back against my teeth, the perfect bounce for a noodle.  The clams slipped easily from their shells and we dragged them through the brown sauce, some amalgamation of garlic and onions and ginger and, well, something brown. 

For dessert, the Asians around us received complimentary bowls of something black and beany.  Maybe we reeked of our Americanness, as no such bowls arrived at our places.  Instead, cubes of coconut jello jiggled their way to our seats.  I didn't complain. 

813 55th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220

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