Once again, we had a PFS meal that made us weep with the simplicity of its plain good, perfectly cooked seafood...Sometimes, I take this place for granted, and don't bother posting, but after three transcendent meals, (you know, the kind that make you keep looking at your dinner companions and saying "This is SO good!", then happily tuck in to another bite), I felt I had to share...
After a weekend chowing in New York, Yumyum and I were sitting on the Chinatown/Chinatown bus on the way home, feeling slightly peckish after a 4 hour ride...We were hesitant to eat anything in Boston, we figured our favorites would suffer in comparison to the Big Apple...But we needed something light, and what else, but some oysters and veggies at PF?
Then I discovered that she had never had their scallops on the half-shell...I urged her to order two. When they came, I couldn't stop my chopsticks from grabbing one. Huge, sweet scallops, roe still clinging to them, scored into four segments because of their size. Barely steamed, with shreds of ginger and garlic wilting from the heat....She was sold...
Until we got the oysters in black bean sauce, huge and more than mouth-filling. Mousse-like and juicy, the black bean sauce at PFS is so well integrated, so complex, so salty, so pungent...We weren't gonnah eat rice, but we needed something to sop up the juice.
A last minute heads-up from out waiter convinced us that the freshest vegetable that night was baby bok choy (always good to go with whatever vegetable the waitstaff suggest here). We were skeptical, because we were really in the mood for something strong-flavored, like pea-pod-shoots, but it was a great call. The baby sprouts were barely steamed, and retained their bitterness in a tiny amount of broth, and a healthy helping of garlic. We just kept exclaiming, over and over, that the food was so simple, so elegant, and so perfect. It beat anything we had eaten In Manhattan's Chinatown.
Needless to say, when we entertained his excellency, Simon Majumdar, we wanted to flaunt the best that Boston had to offer. PF didn't let us down. No one knows their way around a fryer better than these guys, and when you want the best fried calamari, or salt and pepper spicy shrimp in town, this is the place. We were saying last night, that we were surprised it doesn't come up more on this board, when visitors asked for the best seafood in Boston (well, actually Kathleen said that, when she was fantasizing about her next meal, of the two-lobster special, washed down with a little Chardonnay, but I digress[g])..The shrimp were whole, unpeeled. The heads were quickly crisped to a delightfully edible crunch, even for novices.. The calamari was light, greaseless and impossible to resist, little clusters of leggy crunch, and sheets of the bodies, curled in crisp chips.
The requisite oysters were their requisite selves, and we had a wokked lobster, hacked in chunks and cooked in ginger and scallions. The chunks are easy to mine with chopsticks, and the plump chunks of sweet meat were still firm and juicy. Our guest was suitably impressed.
The only dish that didn't wow them was one I loved, a baby bok choy, cooked in a broth with chopped preserved duck eggs, and red yolk duck eggs..I thought this was perfect comfort food, with it's salty, garlicky taste topping the bitter greens, but perhaps it needed to be eaten with rice, as I did over breakfast the next day, to truly appreciate its complexity (g)
But last night's meal with 9Lives, and his GF Kathleen, did me in...We had the scallops, we had the oysters, we even had a lobster, all as described...But it was the steamed eel, which I can always count on 9L sharing with me, that let the kitchen staff shine...The disks of flesh, actually, baby eel "steaks", soft, steamed, eel-flesh, released from its little nubbin of bone by a quick flick of the tongue; the sweet, fatty, eel-joy, covered in- what else?--liquidy black bean sauce....We ate too much...We had all been to the gym. We were all happy.
Oh yeah, there was Chinese spinach, too, kang kung, or convolvulus...Tom, of PF, says it's not a seasonal thing, but that sometimes they have it, and sometimes they don't..We had ours with so much garlic, I could have been stopped for driving under the influence of the fumes....
You'll notice most of my choices are simply prepared, mostly steamed, in black bean sauce, or garlic and ginger, because those are the preparations I adore. I keep wanting to try more things, but they are dishes I love so much, and PF does them so well, I need a fix fairly frequently.
Year in, and year out, with a forgivable lapse here and there, (We had *one* mediocre meal New Years' weekend..) I just love this place, and the way it delivers on the swimmingest, most respectfully cooked seafood.