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Feb 14, 2000 07:21 PM

Boston question

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I might move to Boston soon.

Are there a lot of Filipino restaurants there?

Is there also a Little Korea section in Beantown? And how many Korean restauants are there.

Since I'd be leaving Houston, a city with two Chinatowns, two Little Saigons, two Little India/Pakistans, Little Korea, several Little Mexicos and many other mixed ethnic commercial districts..........I was wondering if Boston could offer as much as Houston.

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  1. I might move to Boston soon.

    ------ Reply --------
    Wait until Boston warms up.
    Are there a lot of Filipino restaurants there?

    ----Reply ---------
    There is only one I know of. Here some info on it I wrote a couple of weeks ago.
    The Shuttle Stop in Quincy just off Hancock St at the square was next (Near the Quincy Square T stop). My wife and I have eaten at this Philippine restaurant with the strange name. They have a twelve foot wide wall mural photo of a Space Shuttle overlooking the informal eating space and curio shop. The food was described by the lady who runs the Shuttle Stop as "similar to Vietnamese" - I would add -"only different" :-) The Philippines are long gone into various flavored vinegars that add a lot of different tastes to the cuisine. The SS has a sort of "PooPoo" type platter that looked great -they call it something like a "Tartapi Special" (I couldn't hear the tape well). They make good chicken dishes with fine rice noodles Linda described as like "angel hair pasta". The duck dish was "6 alarms" on her heat scale. These are very friendly people with unique tasting food. I know of no other Philippine restaurant in Boston. One could easily fall in love with the lady who runs the Shuttle Stop.

    Is there also a Little Korea section in Beantown? And how many Korean restaurants are there?

    ---Reply -------
    There are many Korean restaurants spread around Boston and Cambridge --no Korean center of focus that I know of. I count 16 Korean restaurants in the Boston Yellow Pages. Not all I know of are listed.
    Since I'd be leaving Houston, a city with two Chinatowns, two Little Saigons, two Little India/Pakistans, Little Korea, several Little Mexicos and many other mixed ethnic commercial districts., I was wondering if Boston could offer as much as Houston?

    ----Reply --------
    I lived a short while in Houston and Galveston, Boston has a lot more to offer - except for the quality of the Mexican /Tex-Mex cooking. You can seek out many sorts of cuisine in Boston and compare it with what you remember in Houston. Boston has a great Italian section of the city called the North End - it's a lot like Europe with the old narrow streets.

    You can also commiserate with us about failed Basketball, Football and Baseball teams. You will find the same situation in Boston.

    On the postive side -- we have Harvard, MIT and many other institutions of culture and learning --- and NYC is just a short hop away :-)


    4 Replies
    1. re: Tord

      According to John Mariani, he lists Houston as No. 6 just behind Boston, No. 5 in his usual city rankings of "best American restaurant city." And Houston retaurants regularly make it on to Esquire's "Best New Restaurants" category. So Houston's got good eating. And from what I've seen of the rest of the country, Houston does have better food than most cities in the USA.

      In terms of gourmet level food, I'd bet Boston is better than Houston. But H-town is quite young and not quite as "blue blooded" as Beantown with the history and all that, I'm sure.

      But Houston is totally loaded with ethnic cuisines, the comfort food from around the world, from the affordable street level food to the refined, especially Vietnamese. I just fear that Boston might not have that massive immigrant power base that Houston has gotten (second largest Vietnamese population behind L.A, 8th largest Asian population in the USA and one of the largest Latino communities also).

      You should see the Bellaire and Beechnut Streets, they are an overload of Asian grocers, nightclubs, supermarkets and businesses. Southwest Houston is virtually an Asian city now.

      With the revival of downtown Houston (something which Los Angeles is far behind), H-town has become a mixed hybrid city of the urban San Francisco and suburban Sun Belt style.

      While Boston will have its share of great and nice things, it's a shame to leave Houston, the new cosmopolitan kid on the block.

      When did you last live here, BTW?

      The Oilers should have stayed in Houston. The Rockets might leave also. But the Oilers/Titans finally went to the Super Bowl. The Rockets have some Championships. The Astros look to do well. Of course, the Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots have had success. You mean "fail" as in migrating to Connecticut and all that?

      1. re: worldlyman

        I moved to Boston a few months ago from New York City, a place with more variation in cusines than just about anyplace in the country. I was afraid that Boston would be a culinary wasteland by comparison. I would have to say that that fear has not been borne out.

        According to one report that I've read, Boston's immigrant population makes up 40% of the city. One would assume that a population that large would support authentic ethnic restaurants. In some areas, such as Dorchester (Tord's territory), this has been the case, as neighborhoods are now being revitilized by Vietnamese and Carribean eateries catering to largely immigrant diners.

        The presence of so many world-renowned universities here also draws people from all over the world, many of whom support a wealth of international restaurants.

        The flip side of this is something that I call "the tyranny of student tastes". Many restaurants, by necessity, cater to the very large student population, who in many cases eschew more adventurous dishes for cheap, undistinguished fare. The result is that, while there are many Thai, Indian, and Mexican restaurants in student-heavy areas, most of them are not very good.

        There is also the issue of rampant gentrification. Boston has become a VERY expensive city in recent years, displacing older ethnic communities. As rents skyrocket in the center of the city, people fan out to previously "marginal" communities, which then experience increased rents and the cycle begins again. Previously affordable areas with large ethnic populations (and the accompanying restaurants that they support) such as Allston/Brighton, Jamaica Plain, and Somerville have already seen rents increase dramatically over the past few years.

        My observation is that there are (at least) two Bostons. There is Boston Central, which caters to students and professionals. Then there is Outlying Boston, neighborhoods like Roxbury, Dorchester, and Chelsea, previously "dangerous" neighborhoods which have been revitilized by working-class families, an influx of immigrants, and those seeking refuge from Central Boston's outrageous rents. Central Bostonians rarely venture out to Outlying Boston (they think that it's too dangerous), where, from what I've read and to a lesser extent experienced, is where you'll find authentic ethnic restaurants.

        This is not to suggest, by any means, that Boston lacks for good restaurants. While Boston sorely lacks a decent Indian restaurant and it's impossible to find a good bagel, it has more than its fair share of good restaurants. Boston is a great place for tapas. There's great Vietnamese restaurants here. Plenty of good Irish places. Great seafood. This is a big wine city. And the best pizza I've ever had is at Emma's, located in Cambridge.

        What it comes why you are moving. There are plenty of reasons to move to Boston. This is possibly the most beautiful city in the country, with perhaps the exception of San Francisco ('Frisco doesn't get snow, which is a good or bad thing depending on your feelings towards snow). It's a great music town. You'll never want for taking a class here. Boston is steeped in history.

        But if you're moving just for ethnic food, you might find yourself a little disappointed. If that's the case, think about New York City, which in my experience is actually cheaper than Boston, at least in the Outer Boroughs.

        The best way to find out is to come visit Boston and try some of the restaurants yourself. Good luck.

        1. re: Seth Ditchik

          Thanks for the observation. The differences and actual names of areas will be a great obviates me from having to pick up a pocket guide for the moment.

          Though I agree that San Fran. is probably the most beautifully-located urban area in the US, I had not been to Boston. But from what I gather and read, I usually thought of it as the East Coast version of San Francisco. Compact, manageable and high-dense lively...........some things that new Sun Belt cities are lacking in.

          My experience in San Francisco proper is that while the weather is great as well as the scenic vistas, the urban area is pretty dirty and smelly. Is Boston comparable that way?

          One of the pleasant things about Houston is that it mixes part urban San Fran./Chicago, part Los Angeles, part Southern Delta and part Florida and of course, part rural Texas. The great thing about a move to Boston would be not having to rely on a car. And we really rely on cars here in Houston. It almost breaks my heart to think of leaving this city because it's recently proven even Sun Belt sprawlathons can have a lively nocturnal downtown.

          The flavor of New York food is certainly the liveliest. I agree that NY is the capital of total food. I've eaten in Greek, Italian and Asian eateries from Little Italy to Queens. I do know that NY pizza and gyros are certainly better than what you can find in Houston. There is this one gyro place not far from Forest Hills in Queens that has the tastiest gyro ever. And I've eaten good gyros in Tarpon Springs, Florida and Houston. I do have fond memories of a place in Little Italy just bordering Chinatown NY called Little Sambuca.

          But in terms of Mexican and Vietnamese food, I think Houston is still more flavorful. One thing people may dismiss as ludicrous in terms of affecting food's taste is climate. For some reason, beef noodle Vietnamese pho tastes livelier in Houston than in San Francisco. Deep dish pizza in Houston tastes very flat compared to the super taste of Chicago. To me, high-humidity could be a factor. Maybe it's just psychological.

          In my opinion, despite L.A.'s loose and sprawling packaging (similiar to Houston's), Los Angeles is still the king of ethnic variety. But L.A. is no NY in terms of being Gourmet Capital.

          1. re: worldlyman

            I've heard the "East coast San Fran" comparison before, and I think it holds, to a point. Boston is slightly less urban, I think, insofar as there are less high-rise buildings in Boston, and I think that Boston's "gritty" areas are somewhat less gritty than San Francisco's. I think Boston lacks some of SF's diversity and stunning vistas, but Boston seems to be more of a garden city, with parks seemingly every five feet. Both cities have very similar intellectual and cultural life, although San Fransisco seems more "on the edge" while Boston seems sometimes strangely hobbled by its Puritan heritage (the subway (T) stops running at 12:30am, for instance).

            Public transit is good in Boston, although not as extensive as New York, by comparison. One could certainly live a full life in Boston without a car (make sure you bring a bicycle, though), although having a car in Boston couldn't hurt, so long as you're willing to pay for a parking spot or endure Boston's insane parking regulations and lack of adequate street parking.

            It sounds like you really like Houston. I'm not discouraging a move to Boston--if you're looking for a small, very livable, managable city with a decent food scene, Boston certainly fits the bill. If you're looking for a smaller Houston, however, you may find yourself disappointed.

    2. No Filipino that I know of, but try Koreana for Korean (duh) and a place called Arirang. We have Irish, Italian and a very Vietnamese China town, but no Mexican, unfortunately.

      1. You might take a look at this archive, which contains many reviews of ethnic restaurants, for an idea of what Boston (and environs) has to offer. You will be able to get to the fine dining reviews from a link on the same page:

        In the matter of a car, while you can probably get along without one in the city, and can reach some outlying suburbs by the T, you will want to drive sometimes to the Berkshires, Cape Cod, the North Shore, Cape Ann, New York. Of course you could rent a car for these trips....

        Good luck.