Short Orders: Green Papaya
3211 Oak Lawn
This much is obvious: few people care whether or not Green Papaya trots out traditional Vietnamese dishes or Texafied facsimiles.
It's not even an issue. The place has been so consistent over a long term that when they home in on authenticity or when the drift away, guests still appear to drive away happy about the experience.
A decade of life on Oak Lawn--that's quite an achievement.
Their banh mi tom chien, or deep fried shrimp paste, does nod to the country's long ties to France, yielding a crisp pastry that fills the palate with that rich, inviting beignet flavor--a flavor that leads quite nicely into the sweet-musty taste of shellfish. Dunking these into pungent fish sauce creates an entirely different sensation, softening the sauce while putting some backbone into the fried paste.
Problems crop up from time to time, but they are generally a matter of Texafication. For example, Green Papaya's pork spring rolls, with they form into mouth-stretching gordita monsters. The meat carries a warm, bittersweet, grilled tinge and vegetables shoot darts of fresh mint and crunchy wet leaves, but you almost have to enjoy these as separate entities, the rolls are so massive.
Oh, well. No doubt regulars of this place order from a short list of favorites--such as the pho.
It's easy to find distinct examples of this classic broth in Dallas...or in Garland, more specifically. Just head that direction and stop in any run down family joint. Still, Green Papaya ladles out a hearty, filling and impressively huge bowl. Meaty yet vibrant, it takes well to the addition of spicy heat.
Add all of this to ready, familiar service and a visible location, it's no wonder the place still draws steady crowds.
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