Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Three Seasons

Three Seasons Vietnamese restaurant, Palo Alto

The first time we walked into Three Seasons, months ago, it came across as a curious mix between a bar and a fancy Asian restaurant. Bamboo grows around the bar in the atrium, except where the widescreen TV shows sports in one corner. More traditional tables ring the atrium on the first and second floor, and spill out onto the patio on Century Walk.

Service is a little slow, especially when it's busy, but the food here is so good that it doesn't matter. We usually get a few small plates to share and are happy with that. The fried tofu is de rigeur: it's the best I've ever had. The consistency, the light coating, the sweet/spicy sauce, and even the fried onions and scallions on top are delicious every time. All the rolls are good, and if you ask, they'll leave out the cilantro for you. This time we opted for a sea scallop satay rather than a roll, and we weren't disappointed. Though satay is normally served with a peanut sauce, this was accompanied by a yellow curry, with a small side of rice noodles garnished with peanuts. The scallops themselves were large, tender, and delicious.

In the past, we've enjoyed the pea sprouts, though they might not be to everyone's taste. This time I suggested the Japanese eggplant with peppers and onions in a coconut sauce, and again we were not disappointed. The creamy soy-based sauce was sweet, but not overbearingly so, and the coconut was a nice complementary flavor rather than overwhelming everything. We enjoyed the textures of the soft but firm eggplant and the crunchy peppers with some jasmine steamed rice, and that made our meal.

Mark also enjoys their lychee martinis, and I'll let him talk about the drinks if he's so inclined. There's a reason the bar is the centerpiece of the restaurant, I think--besides the wonderful food, the cocktails are reputedly quite good as well. But even if, like me, you don't indulge in that particular vice, there's plenty of reasons to come back to Three Seasons over and over.

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