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Mar 12, 2007 08:51 AM

First trip to Zoe's in Somerville

After reading reviews here I decided to give Zoe’s in Somerville a try for Chinese take-out. I ordered the fried veggie ravioli, fried shrimp Sichuan style, and the double cooked pork.

I can see why Zoe’s is a favorite and why they are also cited as being inconsistent. The ravioli was good, filling had a nice texture and mild flavor and they weren’t greasy. Fried shrimp was awesome! Sweet perfectly cooked shrimp and a generous amount of them, in a terrific seriously spicy sauce full of chili peppers. I loved it. This had serious flavor and heat. The sweet, salty, crunchy combo of peanuts and water chestnuts really complimented the shrimp and HOT sauce.

The double cooked pork was good but really lacked the heat I had expected. It wasn’t hot at all. Both the shrimp and pork had a chili next to description on the menu so my expectation was that the heat would be equally spicy. I actually started off the meal trying the pork and quickly shifted my attention to the shrimp because it was a lot more flavorful. The pork has some serious potential though. I loved the thin, almost shaved, slices. It was almost like bacon… I’ll order it again and ask for it extra spicy.

I look forward to ordering from them again soon. My only issue is that both the shrimp and pork were loaded with green peppers. I’m hoping I can ask for mixed peppers or pea pods in the future without throwing off the order.

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  1. They always put in a ton of green peppers -- I can't tolerate them and ask them to hold them. Typically they will cut back but invariably there are some lurking somewhere.

    I love the cumin lamb -- very very flavorful and unusual dish using cilantro is the veggie. That an a side of scallion pie is one of my favorite local chinese meals. But since Mulan has opened I've been there much more often than Zoes or Wangs. I guess I get in a rut easily, and Mulan is such a good rut!

    1 Reply
    1. re: yumyum

      i would rank mulan above zoe's and wang's as well, though all are pretty good neighborhood spots, i think. zoe's has declined a tad in quality over the last couple years, i think but still has some good items and interesting selections.

    2. Where is Mulan? Do they deliver in the same area?

      Also, I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to eating authentic(ish) Chinese - what is scallion pie? I love scallions and I love pie so it's already appealing.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kittychow

        i assume what yumyum has in mind are scallion pancakes, which are basically water, flour salt and scallions, rolled out, smushed together, rolled out, etc. and then fried on a griddle with a generous amount of oil; the end result is a layered, savory side dish redolent of fried scallions. perhaps compare to chapati in indian cuisine. ideally, it should come fresh off the griddle, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, with distinct layers (sort of like you would get in a croissant.)

        NB: i actually don't care for the zoe's version very much, they seem to almost be deep-fried, which i find off-putting.

        1. re: autopi

          I agree Zoe's version of scallion pie is greasy, but I think it's a little thicker than usual to compensate. I like it better than average.

          The key to Zoe's I think is the family-style menu. There are lots of interesting treats on there for low prices (like $3-$5).

          I agree Zoe's is a good neighborhood spot but not the best on this side of the river. Shangri-La is in a different league but doesn't deliver. I think Wang's is more consistently good than Zoe's and has much better dumplings. The jury is still out on Szechuan Bay, but it's probably at least on par. Qingdao Garden's dumplings are easily better, though I'm not a fan of the rest of the menu. I guess I have to order from Mulan again because I despised it my first try.

          1. re: autopi

            I guess it's the super oily part that I love, as a foil for that spicy cumin lamb. Zoe's is very flakey -- many many layers and a good scallion flavor. Some Boston places call them scallion pie and others scallion pancakes. I've never been able to determine the difference but I love em. For these, Mary Chung's version is my personal benchmark, but if you are ordering from Zoes, check theirs out.