Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Feb 4, 2002 01:00 PM

Why so many Asian Reviews?

  • e

Why are there so many Chinese/Asian reviews? Boston and surrounding cities have such a variety of ethnic places I am curious as to why so many Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese places are listed. Don't get me wrong, I love asian foods of all kinds but I also love Italian, German, French,and fast foods and would enjoy some reviews about those places as well.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Feel free to contribute some! Maybe you'll start a trend!

    3 Replies
    1. re: C. Fox

      I want to thank you all for the response to my question. I just discovered this site yesterday and I am amazed at the overwhelming response to my posting. I did not realize it would generate so many opinions. Thank you all for your insight.
      GO PATS!!!

      1. re: Epicurean

        Go Pats: This is the most important thing anyone's said on this board. Hoping to sneak down to the parade for a minute today.

        1. re: Joanie

          On my way there now. We have shut the office and are taking the water shuttle over...BYE!

    2. C. Fox is right. A discussion can't be improved/broadened in the negative. Start posting, and you'll sow what you reap.

      It's a cliche, but true: our message boards are what you make of them. If you post extensively about those cuisines, you'll see extensive discussion of them. Those who post chowhoundishly attract and beget more chowhoundish discussion. You have the power to set tone, and watch it gain a momentum of its own. So go for it!


      13 Replies
      1. re: Jim Leff

        I'm not sure I agree. It seems like most posts that really take off are usually Asian related. Sometimes a review of say, an Italian place, will generate lots of discussion, or a different topic like donuts, but the Asian threads tend to be the longest.

        1. re: Joanie

          This board is still young and rather undeveloped, though there are some awfully terrific posters and postings. Critical mass has not yet been attained. Things can still grow in a lot of different directions, and you guys are the founding fathers.

          Find some awesome non-Asian place nobody's heard of. Watch the tide change.

          (I'm quite certain I don't need to point out that I adore Asian cuisines...pretty much all of them, except Mongolian...and I'm not by any conceivable means knocking discussion of them--nor, I'm sure, is Epicurean).

          1. re: Jim Leff
            Seth Ditchik

            Speaking of Asian restaurants, Jim, did you really say that Boston has better Thai food than NYC?

            1. re: Seth Ditchik

              (LOL) Seth, yeah, I SAW that quote.

              I don't remember saying it, but I do believe that there are

              1. a greater number of authentic Thai places up there (we have exactly one in NYC, and I remember at least a handful up there), and

              2. better average quality in general (ours are pretty bad...maybe ten decent inauthentic places)

              So while I'm no expert on Boston in general or on Boston Thai in particular, it's still a defendable statement, purely by virtue of the awfulness of our scene here in NY. I need to get up there and eat more. It's not SO far away.


              1. re: Jim Leff

                So, Big Dog, what are YOUR favorite Boston Thai places??

                1. re: galleygirl

                  I'm not holding back or being falsely modest...I truly am not ANY kind of authority on Boston food, much less Boston Thai food. But comparing to NY is like comparing snowfall to Phoenix...we're a lame Thai town indeed. I've eaten bites of Thai up there over the years that hit buttons not often hit down here. No special finds, socks not blown off, just enough to get a tiny sense of the thai zeitgeist.

                  Hey, is the place on Mass Ave across from Berkley school of music still decent?

                2. re: Jim Leff

                  I hate to be so negative, but I found the boston thai scene pretty deplorable. Of course, my benchmark has been LA, so the comparison may not be completely fair. I'm a couple years distant now, but the only defendable thai in boston was Rod Dee in brookline (seems like the newly discovered Dok Bua may be a real gem too). All the other places mentioned on this thread (except the south shore one) I found rather lacking, and i've been to them all. While i was in boston, however, there was some promise with the little takeout place in cambridge on Beacon (can't remember the name--thai hut?) that had a little-known separate menu for people in the know about the hardcore stuff. Not sure if that's still the case, however. Sorry, but the Queens thai restaurants like Arunee, My Thai, or Takrai, Ubols, and of course, Sripraphai, are all in a league above the stuff i've encountered in boston.

                  Since this thread is really about asian food in general, I'll just put in my $.02. I think that the concentration on asian food may be related to its relative novelty for most people. For instance, trying to understand the varieties of chinese cuisine has been such a frontier to cover, and i'm constantly making discoveries i think are worth posting about, especially since it's only been in the past few years that I've come to understand the regional styles, ingredients, etc. For the many of us who have more experience with occidental cuisines, posting about it may seem more old hat. Perhaps it also has something to do with immigration patterns as well, such that the newest restaurants also introduce to us a relatively unknown cuisine or subset of a cuisine. I recently discovered indian-chinese food from recent chinese immigrants from india, for instance. Like it or not, the recent spate of immigration has been coming from asia and latin/south america, which means we're likely to see more of those cuisines locally. I imagine that for chowhounds, that's a good thing. Which also means that we may spend less time talking about the schnitzel at Jacob Wirth and more on Cambodian in Revere.

                  1. re: Eric Eto

                    I'm totally happy to defer to your opinion on this, Eric (or to anybody ELSE'S opinion, for that matter). But I'm not sure anyplace could meet the quality of Sripraphai; it's so aberrational that I don't consider it part of the local continuum. If you add it into our mix, it's like gauging the Sri Lankan science fiction scene without first subtracting out Arthur C. Clarke.


                    1. re: Eric Eto

                      Have you tried the separate special Thai menu at Bangkok City on Mass Avenue? You have to ask for it, but it has wonderful Northern and Central Thai dishes. I don't know what everything is (It's in Thai characters with very brief, one-line English descriptions), but everything I've tried has been excellent. That's my pick for the best of Boston, but I have yet to try Dok Bua.

                      1. re: Rubee
                        Seth Ditchik

                        Would you know if they have kao soi?

                        1. re: Seth Ditchik

                          I don't know? It's hard to tell because the menu just has the Thai characters, not even the Thai "word" for the dishes, so it's difficult to know (at least for me) what everything is unless you know how it's described and/or ingredients. For example, their "yam wun sen" (sp?) is listed simply as the Thai characters, and underneath in English - "spicy glass noodle salad". I know they have laap, and have tried some of the Northern-style curries with sticky rice. Under "kao soi" it might just say "curry noodles". It was a pretty big menu though - at least two pages. Post if you check it out!

                          1. re: Seth Ditchik

                            The have Kao Soi at this restaurant, only open for 3 weeks....


                            1. re: Rubee

                              One of the reasons Asian restaurants get more reviews is that diners tend to have more to talk about. Where family style/banquet style is the norm, the average diner gets to sample an array of dishes. If you order right, you can really get a sense of the restaurant's strengths and weaknesses.

            2. Are you a transplant to the area? Just curious - virtually everyone I know does Asian (esp. Chinese) on a weekly, or pretty close to it, basis. Not sure why - has always been that way!!!!! But I love hearing about other places to try - and sometimes actually make it to those places! So post on!!!!!

              1. Wow, that's an interesting question, and there are a BUNCH of answers.. The first, as Cfox and the big dog said, is, if you post it, they will answer...Man, throw anything up on this board, and everyones got an opinion!
                But there are a number of other questions, qualitative, and quantatative...

                1) I don't know what the exact percentage of Chinese in the world are, but isn't it, like, one in three? I mean, look at the size of China in proportion to the USA; look how many SEPARATE culinary styles that encompasses...And that's just China; it doesn't even touch on the other nations we consider Asian..

                2) The Northeast in general, and Boston in particular, is more health-concious than a lot of the US, except maybe Cal, where you'll also find the Asian reviews hold sway..Is shrimp w/walnuts in mayo a healthy dish? Probably not, but with most Asian cuisines, there are WAY more healthy, low-fat veg options than in a lot of Western cuisines...Can you eat a totally fat-filled, artery clogging Asian meal? SURE!!! Can you go into any Chinese rest. and get a steamed fish and a plate of watercress? Pretty likely!!

                3) The alphabet is different..So what, you say? Chowhounds love a challenge..if there's anything like traveling to another country w/out getting on a plane, we'll do it!! We have to try to figure out what the good stuff is; we get to decode a whole 'nother language...It's the same sense of the exotic that made my Lower east Side forbears trek to Chinatown. And yes, Cyrillic is different too; another challenge from a recently arrived group...There's a Russian deli in Brookline who does prepared food that I'm gonnah post about as soon as I get a chance...NOTHING is labeled in English; it looks like mor of a challenge than Chinatown!

                4) A lot of chowhound dining is Ethnic and hole-in-the-wall..Yes, I know we go to the French Laundry and Clio, but as delightful as those culinary temples are, they're reviewed in the mainstream press, and we have a pretty good idea what's going on..A lot of movement and unknown quantities happen in the cuisines of more recently arrived Americans; they can't afford big rests. and big budgets, but their food can be great!! If we're the first to find it outside of their community, we consider ourselves blessed...A lot of the more recent immigrants to our country have been from Asia..hence, more Asian reviews...

                4) A lot of western cuisine has been explored..yes, evry so often, a new place opens in the North End..but we tend to have our favorites....We tend to post when a favorite goes downhill(the Woodmans' thread!!) or when a new incarnation of a familiar cuisine opens....

                A lot of recent immigrants are from other places, it's true.There have been Salvadorean threads about those East Boston taquerias, and threads about Brazilian restaurants....Like I said, post it, and they will come!!! I don't know if this makes things any clearer, they're just some of my thoughts....But hey, if it'll stay still, I'll eat it!!

                1. Why are there so many Chinese/Asian reviews? Boston and surrounding cities have such a variety of ethnic places I am curious as to why so many Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese places are listed.

                  We also cover Malaysian, Indian, Thai and Korean, Cambodian, many Asian many different cuisines from the continent...I don't think you should lump them all together. I can read or write posts about fried clams, stone crabs, steak, fried chicken,'s all about American food...but they're all different.

                  We've also posted about Latin cuisine, Mexican, Salvadorean, West Indian..and probably areas that I don't remember..

                  If there's a cuisine that you think is under represented here...tell us..I guarantee that some us will go there and post about it.