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Chinatown - Down Memory Alley

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  • Tord Svenson Jan 10, 2000 08:08 PM
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Lucien replied to my post ---
Re(1): Chinatown - King Fung Garden - A Mongolian Touch
From:lucien@prodigy.net (Lucien Van Elsen)
Posted: January 10, 2000 at 11:32:17

In Reply To: Chinatown - King Fung Garden - A Mongolian Touch
Posted by Tord Svenson on January 10, 2000 at 07:42:48

Lucien said ---
Wow - I'm glad to hear this place still exists, and is relatively unchanged! I have fond memories of it from ~10 years ago when I was a student in Boston, and we went to it regularly. It was known in our group as "Brezhnev's", because (as I remember) there was no sign in English at the time, and the cook had a passing resemblance to Brezhnev. It also had an MIT sticker on the door. My favorites were always the scallion pies, and the rice noodle dishes. The thicker-than-normal noodles were always just chewy enough to give an interesting bite, and they were in a savory brown sauce along with the vegetables and meat. There was also a dish that I've never encountered anywhere else, made up of discs of the same sort of noodle, about the size of a half dollar and about a quarter inch thick. We found it by seeing what other patrons were ordering off of the Chinese-only menu, and pointing- the nearest translation we got was 'Rice sticks'.
I'll definitely have to make a pilgrimage back here next time I'm in Boston - lots of good memories from this place.

--- Tord's reply ------
Lucien-You can go home again. It feels good, too. Glad that my words brought back some pleasant memories. I started going to Boston's Chinatown back in the 1950s. Some of the restaurants from then are still in business.
We used to party until the wee hours and drive down to Chinatown where my friends would be rather politically incorrect to the waiters in the all night noodle joints. - like the Four Seas - (now gone with the owner busted for major league money laundering.) We pretty much ate the American faves-sweet and sour pork and chop suey.
It wasn't until I got to live in Paris and London in the 1960s that I began to appreciate the fabulous varieties of tastes in Chinese food. I had a partner (Ron Stark of psychedelic fame) who loved food and who would not let me eat with him unless I took chowhounding seriously-i.e. learned to eat with chopsticks :-) From San Francisco to Kabul, Ron was a consummate Chowhound. Of course, the mass quantities of THC we consumed did nothing to hamper our progress through the earthly paradise of regional foods. Good food is everywhere-for those with eyes to see and mouths to taste.
KFG's interior has a new coat of the same colored paint. They replaced the window and the door. You still need to know enough NOT to sit in the booth by the door if it's cold outside. And, don't expect to speak English to anyone who works there :-)
Those "noodle" discs are rice cakes and KFG has nine varieties. Pork and pickled cabbage is good-and the seafood or the subgum. The pot stickers are fine, too. The Szechuan lamb soup is a good winter warmer ($4.95)
They also do a good three-course Peking Duck ($27) --but you have to give them 24 hours notice.
A decent variety of food for a six table, funky little eatery. The people who eat there are the newest generation of students who probably find their way to KFG by word of mouth. They sit amongst the Asian regular customers-who have the Mongolian jones.
In my youth the "hot" restaurant in Chinatown was Karl's Pagoda on Tyler. Karl passed away-in his nineties-recently -- but the restaurant has been refurbished and is still doing business. Karl's had a hip Jewish clientele in the 50's and 60's but as the Chinese moved into the Boston 'burbs good Chinese food became a local matter and not a nutso exercise in urban parking skills. Since we are 15 minutes from Chinatown on the MBTA, its our Asian paradise with all the restaurants and the markets-the herbal places-the specialty stores and the Asian street culture.
We feed a couple of friendly alley cats when we arrive and feel a familial kinship with the place. Long may it flourish for all the students that come to Harvard, MIT, BU, Berklee, the Conservatory and all the other great learning institutions of what we natives call "The Hub of the Universe" :-)
Do you have any other special memories of Chinatown? A lot has changed-especially the demise of the Combat Zone-and now the building of the zillion-million Millenium Center right at the Washington St corner of Chinatown.
The Registry of Motor Vehicles was also built on that corner and one has to heed the occasional victim of four hours of indifference who come muttering obscenities out into the Chinatown streets-Registry Rage. The Combat Zone may be gone but people are still getting screwed down there.
Tord

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