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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Funky, Hot, and Delicious: Viet-Thai Sunday Brunch at Doc's Clock

Posted By on Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 10:58 AM

The Cantonese "tamale." - A. SIMMONS
  • A. Simmons
  • The Cantonese "tamale."
Of all the bars within three blocks of our domicile, Doc's Clock might be our favorite. We appreciate $2 cans of Olympia, perilously low lights, and lots of dark wood. Last Sunday, however, we headed over to the Clock not to tie one on, but to unlace ourselves ― with brunch. Every Sunday, from noon until 4 p.m., Doc's Clock hosts Three Papayas, the Thai, Vietnamese, and pan-Asian "cultural liberation" brunch curated by Ta-Wei Lin, formerly of Yamo.

Our friendly bartender was sipping Powers and showing off her alien abduction-themed 2010 calendar. Folks were choking down Bloody Marys. Hostess and server Vivian Nguyen was ferrying massive bowls and plates to and from tables buried in the bar's shadowy recesses. Shuddering off the memory of our last glass of Jim Beam drained eight hours earlier, we sat at the bar, close to the door, so the light streaming in might shine upon our food, enabling us to see what we were stuffing down.

click to enlarge Beef short-rib curry. - A. SIMMONS
  • A. Simmons
  • Beef short-rib curry.
Our placemat was emblazoned with a closeup of young Michael Jackson's beaming face. When condensation dripped down from our glass of beer, the water pooled under his eyes like tears. We were crying too, but that was because we took down a chunk of raw chile in our first bite of papaya salad. This was one of the most beautifully composed $8 salads with which we have ever tussled. The bowl was heaped with what appeared to be three kinds of basil, chile segments, cucumbers, and blueberries, which added a juicy-sweet undertone to the prevailing acidity and heat. We also tore through a Cantonese "tamale" (all dishes are $8), which consisted of steaming sticky rice, preserved egg, peanuts, tofu, pork sausage, eggplant, herbs, and other luscious little tidbits mounded on banana leaves. Funky-smelling, hot, and totally delectable.

Our third and final dish, beef short-rib curry, proved our favorite. The meat was flaking off the bones nicely, revealing rosy, semishredded interiors soaking up a smooth sauce, creamy with coconut milk, and just barely hot ― a Panang variation, we think. We wish we'd had more room so we could have downed a Hangtown scramble or some sweet corn mashed potatoes too, but those were the breaks. There's always next weekend.

Three Papayas Brunch at Doc's Clock 2575 Mission (at 22nd St.), 824-3627; Sun. noon-4 p.m.

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