I became so obsessed with Cambodian food after lunch at Floating Rock, that I went back to Revere the next day with two friends, to explore By The Sea, also on Shirley Ave...Altho they weren't real hounds, they acquitted themselves well, and dove right in..
We started with Fresh Rolls, goi coun in Vietnamese...Here, the skins were thin and moist, and the filling wash heavy with mint and basil. We also shared a searingly hot rendition of Green Papaya Salad with Shrimp; lighter on the lime than the Thai version, but full of fresh herbal flavors, and the typical astringent papaya tang..
Unfortunately, I couldn't prevail upon them to get all seafood! My most un-houndly friend got the LemonGrass and Chili Beef stir-fried. The slices of beef were tossed with a whole constellation of herbs, and he pronounced it wonderful. It looked quite similar to the Tiger's Tears at Floating Rock, but stir, instead of deep, fried. Our other companion wanted a wet curry, and got one with chicken and bamboo that had an aromatic smelling broth, and visible star-anise floating on the surface. He was also thrilled, and excited about new food.
But I got the hit of the night..From what I've tasted of Cambodian food so far, Spicy Fish Soup seemed to encompass the combination of flavors that differentiate it from the other Asian cuisines it resembles.. The broth was full of tamarind, galangal , lemongrass and basil. Masses of Chinese watercress swam amidst a stew of chopped preserved mustard greens. Chunks of catfish steak, pan-sauteed in curry powder, mixed with baby pickled Thai eggplants...The owner claimed there was none of the roasted ground rice that thickens some Cambodian stews, but there were grains of something on the bottom of the bowl...It was great; I've never tasted anything like it, that's all there is too it. I drove everyone crazy the next day talking about it. The owner, (and waiter, things were strictly Mom and Pop. Mom was cooking, Pop was waiting table) said it for me in Cambodian, and I tried to write it phonetically---- Ma Chu Cru... Don't blame me if they look at you funny, I'm sure my transliteration is pitiful! He also said the veg soup I've been looking for, that DOES include Roasted Ground Rice to thicken it, is called Som La Coco...
BTW, they would NEVER laugh at you...The owner was sweet, helpful and amzingly welcoming. We had tons of food, and all ate leftovers for lunch the next day...Now, I'll have to go back a few more times to decide which place I like better. :)
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