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Best Little Restaurant 9/6

Last night 17 hounds and one micro-hound descended on Best Little Restaurant on Hudson Street in Chinatown for a chow feast organized by striperguy. A few hounds met for drinks beforehand and others went for a nightcap afterwards. We were provided the upstairs room and mostly left to fend for ourselves (there were two waiters covering both sections of the restaurant). By pushing two tables together, we managed to seat everybody at two banquet tables with minimal elbow-rubbing.

On the Boston board when discussing a Chow feast of this style usually one must first assess whether there was sufficient “Porky Goodness” to reflect well on the restaurant and hound who ordered for the group. On this count, Striperguy certainly seems to have passed the test because the fried garlic pork ribs not only were quickly gobbled up, but the far side of the table placed a second order while still consuming the first one. The feast also spanned enough variety to include sea critters with legs and even fried squab that included the heads.

I did not get to learn the actual names of the dishes, but to get the discussion of the chow and company started, here is the rough order of presentation. We started off with an order of Chinese-long beans with garlic and ground pork, served with iceberg lettuce. Shortly there after several plates of crunchy-fried/seared squid (not breaded or salt/pepper), with julienned ginger mixed up with the legs (as it was served on my plate). Then came the fried squab, the fried garlic pork ribs, a sauced roast pork dish, a chicken-breast dish, boneless duck served over tofu (not all hounds got the tofu), Chinese greens with garlic, a (fried?) tofu dish with soy-boiled (?) eggs, and the second order of the pork spareribs. Since I missed the ordering and in some cases presentation of the dishes, other hounds will have to fill in the details. The grand total was $21-25 per person.

I thought the company was wonderful and it was a very low-key, but entertaining time. So thanks to striperguy for getting us together and lets jump into discussing the chow.

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  1. Excellent write up itaunas. Most of the dishes can be found under "Chef specialties." We ordered two of everything (one for each table). The exceptions were for the tofu/egg dish (one order) and the spare ribs (three orders). Here's my take on the menu:

    Ground pork with long beans and lettuce - this was excellent. Beautiful pieces of iceburg lettuce (is that an oxymoron) to wrap the flavorful pork. Personally, for all these dishes, I prefer to skip the lettuce and just eat the filling with rice but the rice didn't come out until after most of the filling was gobbled up.

    Squab - tasty and earthy. Unfortunately, the restaurant was short squab but everyone tried a tiny morsel.

    Fried spare ribs with fried garlic - wow, wow, wow. Crunchy, garlicky, and porky. Not greasy. Just perfect. Yumyum didn't like this dish at all (just kidding). I was the one who pushed for a second order of these since one rib wasn't enough. And, for all the flack I got, I noticed that the second order disappeared.

    Squid with XO sauce - this actually may have been cuttlefish and it was great. Dry fried baby bodies of squid and tentacles. Just crisp enough to chew but with little bursts of flavor. It's amazing how they got the bodies to be so crisp with no breading at all.

    Empress chicken - this was the whole bird and probably my least favorite of the meal. But, least favorite is relative since I thought all the dishes were very good. The chicken was tender and moist and served with a ginger sauce. The skin, while flavorful, was a bit flabby for my taste.

    Sauteed pea pod stems - a classic and well done here.

    Soy Duck - braised duck over tofu. The duck was expertly braised but to me, the tofu really came through. Crispy skin with a mushy inside. I was slightly deprived so we ordered a side of tofu and soy sauce eggs.

    Pan fried noodles with three delights - whoever mans the wok in the kitchen does so with a fine hand. These noodles were experty fried. crispy on the edges but softened in the middle due to the sauce.

    Pork with string beans - don't let the name fool you. This was really mini chunks of bacon with the string beans. Absolutely delicious. Slighty fatty pieces of pork with crisp beans.

    I think that's it. The server did an excellent job accomodating us and it was wonderful having our own room. This way, we could be as noisy as we wanted without disturbing the other diners. It was great seeing old faces and new. Thanks to SG for organizing.

    1. Itaunas and Beetlebug did a great job of describing the meal.

      It's hard to pick a favorite because most of the dishes were so excellent..and away from what I'd normally order.

      I'm not usually a poultry fan but the squab, duck and chicken were all perfectly done and the squid/xo sauce was a real highlight.

      Great meal, great company. It was nice getting together with old friends and meeting a few new ones.

      1. for me the squab was the most delicious thing all night (though i know that alcachofa was in love with the braised duck dish). squab: beautiful mahogany skin, lemon juice squeezed on top, delicious salt on top (did someone sprinkle the salt on top before it got passed around?), meaty deliciousness.

        salty pork with string beans was awesome because of the salt : fat : pork ratio and crunchy, wrinkly long beans. i've only gotten this at other places with just ground pork. i'll never turn back.

        easily the best dinner i've had in boston's chinatown. i usually take chinese food for granted, ordering the same old things. great company, awesome food, good times. thanks, striperguy, for making it all happen.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dchow

          I did audibly swoon a bit when I tasted the duck. It took me a bit by surprise, because it did not taste how I was expecting. I recently had duck from King Fung, which was also excellent, but Best Little's preparation took me by surprised. It was braised? I guess that explains it.

          I loved the chicken too. It is so simple, but I love that. The porky good fried spare ribs were another standout. I think I swooned for those as well, but not audibly.

          I want to take my parents here.

          Thanks for the write-ups, itaunas and beetle.

          1. re: dchow

            What a blast guys.

            Squab, oh squab, oh squaby squab... My favorite too.

            I actually tried to order two squab for each table, but they only had two left total. I actually nearly called the day before to give them a heads up to have enough squab in stock. Next time...

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Oh man, I REALLY regret missing this. :(

          2. Really excellent write ups by itaunas and bettlebug. My least favorites were probably the chicken (agree about the skin, but I still took the leftovers home to make soup with) and the green beans with bacon. I'm a traitor, I know! But while the texture of the bacon was great against the thick beans, I just didn't find it all that flavorful. Loved the squab most of all, though the deep fried spareribs gave it a run for the money. Our waiter finally ordered us the spareribs after some pleading on our part for any sort of recommendation. Well done! Duck, lettuce wraps, tofu and cuttlefish were all really solid. Didn't get a chance to try the noodles or the tofu under the duck, or the peapod stems; you have to be on top of your game when dining with 'hounds: food disappears at an alarming rate sometimes!

            It was great to see the little one a hound already in the making, sucking down dishes that mom & dad fed him. Thanks for organizing, Striperguy, and to all the hounds for making such a great time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gini

              Sorry you missed the noodle dish and the peapods - they were very good. I, too, missed the tofu under the duck. Guess I have to go back! My favorite dish was the cuttlefish, followed closely by the squab and the ribs. But everything was very, very good, including the company. Thank you, all.

            2. Great writeups. I thought everything was excellent - not a clunker in the group. I thought the ginger sauce (with red vinegar?) really made the Empress chicken come alive, and the spiced salt that came with the squab also completed that dish perfectly.

              I believe the squid and cuttlefish (aka cutterfish on the menu) with xo sauce is made with *dried* squid and cuttlefish, either deep-fried or more likely stir-fried with the sauce. I think that's how they get that crunchy/chewy texture. Delicious - the saucing is done with a very light hand.

              Altogether a great feast with great company - thanks to striperguy for organizing.

              1. Everyone did a great job describing our meal, but no one did the proper shout-out to those spare ribs. Garlicky deep fried pork ribs. I mean, come ON. They were absolutely delicious. I love dining with a lot of hounds so we can try a ton of the menu ... and I'll be back for more squab. The spicy finishing salt and lemon juice took it from very good to sublime.

                I also enjoyed watching the micro-hound tuck into the food. Good early training.

                4 Replies
                1. re: yumyum

                  This is the same location as the old Ho Yuen Ting, correct?

                    1. re: Rubee

                      Link:

                      -----
                      Best Little Restaurant
                      13A Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

                  1. re: yumyum

                    Yes, those ribs were RIDICULOUS - everything i love in a bite - salty, porky, fried - YUM!! I also loved the squid - had the taste and texture of perfectly crispy skin off a roast chicken. I know that sounds weird, but that's what it tasted like to me and I loved it! This place will definitely join KFG in my as-regular-as-I-can-do-it Chinatown rotation!

                  2. Thanks all for a lovely evening and to striperguy for getting us all together! I loved that ground pork and long beans. It was one of my favorites though I agree with beetlebug, I'd love it with some rice. I really liked the pork and green beans though believe it or not I ate way more beans than pork. This place is definitely worth checking out esp for $21 a head!

                    1. Sounds like a great chow event and sorry to have missed it. I recall those ribs ordered by another table and thinking they looked great.

                      1. Not too much more to add, but. I remember liking the Teochew-Style soy braised duck a bit more from a previous visit, but this wasn't too bad -- nicely carved and presented, though it didn't seem as tender as before. Dipping in the garlic chilli sauce is essential.

                        The chicken was perfect in my book. Supple, moist, excellent technique.

                        1. I can say this is one place where you won't feel intimidated by the menu or food, as (for me) can sometimes happen in Chinatown. My faves were the squab, what a revelation, spare ribs and baked salt chicken which I love anyhow. Also the tofu was amazingly delicious. Loved this place and I can't wait to go back. Thanks to striperguy for excellent pick and organization!

                          1. A small posse went to the Best Little Restaurant yesterday for lunch. The squab was still succulent. The fried spare ribs were still a glowing example of crispy porky goodness. Squid with XO sauce was still a pleasant surprise (to me, I confess, it doesn't look like much on the plate). And the ground pork with beans and lettuce showcased, once again, why iceberg lettuce is allowed on this planet.

                            The fried spare ribs were still a glowing example of crispy porky goodness. Yes, I said that already.

                            We also spied a beef hotpot going by, which smelled tremendous. Even stuffed, we all wanted to try it. Next time!

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Alcachofa

                              The yummy little squab and the lettuce wraps are just so darn good. We also tried the pan fried dumplings that came with a really interesting peppery dipping sauce. Just as good as King Fung's, I think.

                              Just one dissenting voice: I really didn't like the fried spareribs this time. Mine was all bone and fat. Not much pork. Also not much garlic flavor. Did I get gypped? I saw you gnawing on one the size of my head, so maybe I just chose wrong.

                              By the way, the place was empty when we arrived at 12:30, and comfortably full around 2:30.

                              1. re: gini

                                Everything was delicious - the pea pod stems were a great counterpoint to all the porky goodness. Lettuce wraps and the squab were the absolute standouts for me. Dumplings were a nice surprise.

                                I had the beef hot pot on a previous visit and can attest to it's deliciousness!

                                1. re: gini

                                  The ribs didn't seem as meaty this time but everything else was great. Even liked the pea pod stem vegetables.

                                  Small dessert list consisting exclusively of coconut custard buns..:)

                                  Worth a return trip soon.

                                  1. re: 9lives

                                    Great reports guys. Just wondering, where exactly on Hudson is this (i.e. what is it next to)?

                                    1. re: heWho

                                      This is the old Ho Yuen Ting..next to Jumbo Seafood and across the street from Ginza.

                                      The entrance is a few steps down from the street.

                                  2. re: gini

                                    I did have a one less meaty rib, that is true. The huge one was the last one! No one took it! I didn't recall a difference in garlic level. I forgot about that great sauce for the dumplings!

                                2. Some pictures from an absolutely tremendous feast on 16-July-08.

                                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_e...

                                  They were totally at the top of their game. Everything was superb.

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: Alcachofa

                                      Wow, looks fantastic. Wish I had been there. I could go for some of that squid in XO sauce right now.

                                    2. just tried this place again recently when i was in boston for the night. it was fantastic, and i took many of the suggestions mentioned here. loved the soy duck thing and the squab was also really great. our server also REALLY wanted us to order the ground pork/lettuce thing, and so we did and it was right fine. really like this place, would go back anytime.