Maria Bonita, Sichuan Gourmet
Maria Bonita, North Cambridge
Great machaca, slow cooked shredded beef, deep flavour, tender fibres of meaty goodness. Had it on the torta, which got a bit soaked.
Pretty good and honest fish tacos, with many freshly fried pieces as opposed to a big filet. Nice tostada too.
More than competently made chicken tamal, soft but firm texture.
A special of mole enchilada came across as flat, little of the oaxacan complexity in the sauce. I'd vote for more lard in the refried beans, but that's a bit of a quibble.
Basic flan, a nice way to round things off.
Inexpensive, friendly folks, an honest and down to earth place with lovely spots of deliciousness.
Sichuan Gourmet, Framingham
Currently my favourite Sichuan place in the area. Great technique and flavouring. Serious spicing.
Great sichuan wontons -- a perfect balance of vinegar, chilli oil and bean paste in the sauce, nice skins on the wontons with just a dab of meat filling. Sister says their dumplings are better.
Loved the earthy meaty flavours in the homemade sausage, with just a hint of smokiness.
Excellent dan dan noodles - perfect twinge of resilience in the slippery noodles, the sauce a wonderful interplay of sour, spicy and umami.
The dry fried spicy fish is a favourite - cleanly deep fried pieces of fish, carrying a complex spiciness from sichuan peppercorns and dried chilli, a serious combination of flavours that flows between a glorious burn, a subtle tingly numbness and a cool herbal suaveness in between. Bit of celery provide wonderful contrast. Great dry frying technique on a very hot wok.
Kong pao chicken was ok, good balance of sweetness and vinegary tang , but needs a lot more serious smokey chilli flavour.
Homey twice cooked pork. Not nearly as oily and could be a tiny touch more smokey, but pretty good.
Perfect dry fried string beans, just the right amount of softening on the outside with a crispy snap inside. Another example of great technique.
A very classic rendition of ma po dou fu - a deft combination of vinegar and bean paste, with just a tiny touch of heat.
Little discs of pumpkin cakes covered in sesame with sweet bean paste centres are a very good sweet finish. Also, excellent dumplings oozed a finely ground sweet black sesame filling with each bite.
I went to Maria Bonita today on Mass. Ave in Cambridge. I got a beef burrito ($4.50) and a chicken enchilada combination plate ($6.95). The beef burrito was pretty good with shredded beef, rice, re-fried beans and pico de gallo. The chicken enchilada plate came with rice and beans. It was also very good. I really liked their re-fried beans topped with cheese. I went at lunch time and the place was nearly empty. There was only one customer having lunch.
Maria Bonita helped me out of a jam on Saturday (should have been cooking for a Cinco de Mayo party but simply ran out of time). They gave me enough machaca, chicken, ceviche, and rice for 10-12 people (and hopefully kept enough for themselves to not sell out of anything). Did not sample the machaca or chicken, but I heard they were delicious, with the machaca a bit more flavorful and spicy. I did eat the ceviche, and to my tastebuds, I found it to have just the right balance of tangy and bright, but not puckery. Really nice folks who saw the desperation in my eyes and came through big time. We will be back to sample ceviche, carne asada, chorizo, and pescado tacos (they also have beer which is always a draw for us). Pleasant space, too!
Thanks Maria Bonita for saving my sorry a%$!