It was unanimous that we all enjoyed the décor of Plum Alley. The colorful lanterns made our visit. The restaurant was a nice combination of modern and charm, clean and professional, with a nice wooden floor. It had the feel of a Japanese ski lodge to it. It was inviting and hip, without any pressure to conform to their style. The prices were reasonable, the ambiance was trendy, and its location contributed to an urban and young setting.
I discovered, to my surprise, that Plum Alley has Asian fusion cuisine going on. Before entering the establishment, I thought it was a hip local Chinese stomping ground. Having said that, I would rather pick my ethnic culinary entree and head to a Chinese, Japanese, or Thai restaurant instead of coming back to the mediocre food here.
Are they truly using fresh, quality ingredients as I have heard rumored around town? I wouldn’t risk a high bet here. But, I guess it depends what you compare it to. One of my guests stated, “At no point was there a question of freshness. From any of the discernible tastes there was no hint that it wasn’t made with me in mind.” And my other guest stated,”I thought the food was very fresh. I had no complaints.” Still, the dishes tried to showcase the ingredients, but when it came down to it, the presentation of the dishes wasn’t anything special.
I ordered a Thai iced tea and it didn’t have any sweetness to it. This was disappointing, because when I saw it on the menu my mouth started to get ready for such a flavor, but it didn’t quench what I thirsted for. It tasted like buckwheat instead of amazing milky goodness. What a pity.
The green papaya salad, made with red onion, radish, jalapeno, cilantro, olive oil and a lime dressing had WAY too much citrus screaming and shouting at me. It stung my mouth so much that I wish they would have placed some balancing agent in the dressing to offset the final product. Perhaps some honey or avocados?
For five years I have been hoping that somewhere in Salt Lake City, someone would offer us patrons a fine and authentic bowl of ramen where the noodles are plentiful and filling and the protein is soft and flavorful. Where the ratio of broth and ingredients harmonize. Where the hard boiled egg is edible and where the scallions are thinly sliced, but scattered around the bowl with purpose. This, unfortunately wasn’t the place to offer such a delicate blend. Yes, the protein was tender and flavorful, but overall their ramen was just a watery mess. My search continues. Sigh.
I ventured into the duck confit house steamed buns that were served with orange slices. It was dry all the way around. I think it would have been better if the duck was cooked in its fat, perhaps served with something more. A sauce? Probably not. Caramelized onions? Perhaps. This dish has so much potential, too bad it was not seized. So disappointing.
One of my guests ordered the green curry and reported, “It was very well prepared. It came in a huge bowl with potatoes, sweet potatoes, lettuce, peppers, and of course the rice/sauce. It tasted as good as it looked. It certainly didn’t lack flavor or spice. I had to have a glass of water nearby to cool off.”
My other guest ordered what he considered to be a very safe, dependable dish and described his culinary experience: “The Coconut Thai soup was presented in a very traditional yet appetizing way. Both from the color as well as the smell, you were certain it was a coconut based dish. It tasted better than good but not quite great. Which could mean that the ingredients did most of the heavy lifting, which was fine, but yet it was still missing a surprise, kick, or anything that would have made it more savory.”
The service was basic but satisfactory. We were attended to as often as one should expect. Our server made sure we always had plenty to drink. In fact, she stayed up on her game and was a pro at refilling one of my guest’s water glass frequently, which apparently is where most servers fail. She was helpful in describing the day’s specials, and was patient as we took our time ordering.
Rating – I would be willing to return if I saw a movie next door and couldn’t afford another nearby place.