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Sep 7, 2007 11:14 AM

Fun and good food at robin-egg blue Cantonese place in Acton

I went to Acton Coffee and Ice Cream for Cantonese, this lunch. It was a fun time and very tasty.

I took the advice of ordering off the special board. I chose Chinese broccoli/bai-choy/eggplant. This resulted in a long discussion between the cook and counter lady. She called someone on the phone and the discussion continued. Matter settled, the cook walked to a fridge behind the counter, took out the ingredients for my dish, and walked back to the kitchen. Everything looked very fresh and crisp. (BTW, the hunk of beef in the fridge was a beautiful cut.)

While I waited, the nice counter lady offered me a free espresso. It was very good. Man, they sure have a lot of different menus going! Breakfast sandwiches, specialty coffees, Toscanini's ice cream, bubble tea, and the Cantonese.

The counter lady said her boss is not sure how to get the word out about the restaurant. They are adjacent to the T parking lot so I hope that helps.

My food came out and the cook opened the take-out carton to show it to me. A work of art! Beautiful deep greens, some orange from carrot slivers and the light purple of the eggplant in a good-smelling brown sauce.

Bill: $9.98.

Food: Very enjoyable. I like my veggies crisp and these were cooked just right. Almost three servings, for me.

I enjoyed the friendliness and informality but had I a schedule to be on, it could have gotten stressful given the time it took to get the order explained. Cooking time was fast, though.

Directions: From Rt 2, take 111 and go to the light after Roche Bros., towards K-Mart and Mcd's. Left on Rt 27. Continue straight past the Discovery Museum. You'll come to a brazilian martial arts place on the right. Look for the robin-egg blue building before the bridge over the T tracks. Make a right before the blue building and park in the back, where the entrance is. There are lots of tables set up outside. Do not cross the bridge or look across from the feed store, you've gone too far.

Not a destination place but totally worth a 15 min or so detour. Not only for the food but for the chatty, informal, good-feeling atmosphere.

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  1. It might help get the word out if the sign said something like 'Chinese Food'. I don't think there is any mention from the street. Also a sign directing for parking. I stopped for ice cream one day having no knowledge of prepared food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: trufflehound

      I think there is now a sign that says "chinese food" in the window upstairs. They have only been doing the chinese food for about a month. Here is a link to the other thread on this and my photos of lunch earlier this week. I plan on going for dinner tonight and will report back!

    2. Oh and im pretty sure why there was the big discussion on your order, i ran into a similar thing. They have not mastered the use of the / or the word "or". So on the menu in some places they say "or" other places they use the "/"... For instance they have something called "Fried rice (beef/chicken/shrimp/pork/vegs" or "bbq pork/chicken/shrimp in lobster sauce"..... The closest to what you got i see is "Chinese broccoli/cabbage/bitter melon/yu hsiang eggplant" I think they are supposed to be "or" but not sure.... The menu scan is on my blog page

      8 Replies
      1. re: hargau

        Yes! I think the cook thought I had to choose one of the items from "chinese broccoli/bai choy/eggplant" and the counter lady was saying I got all three.

        I just had such a lovely time hanging out and waiting for my order. Thank you for bringing this place to our attention.

        1. re: three of us

          I went again tonight and the lady was there this time as well as the same cook as before. I found out the owner owns the building and runs the real estate office upstairs, he was outside doing gardening. They rent the top floor as apts.

          Tonight I got a dinner combo with singapore rice noodles, boneless ribs and the thai soup. All of them were great! The ribs rather then being the typical red dyed dried up things you imagine, were char siu bbq pork with extra sauce on top! Very good! The thai soup was excellent, it was tom yum soup all freshly made with plenty of chicken and freshly sliced veggies. The singapore noodles were loaded with chicken, shrimp, veggies.

          My gf got the Cantonese fried tofu, scallion pancake (they call them onion) and the same soup. The tofu had fresh corn sliced off the cob, chinese eggplant and other veggies. The scallion pancakes she said were just ok and they gave hoison sauce rather then the normal dipping sauce.

          There was still no lack of confusion though among everyone! One other person came in for chinese while we were there and several for ice cream but even the ice cream was confusing it seemed.

          They were out of bubble tea so we were a bit dissapointed on that one.

          Also i notice they add a lot of msg to the food both of us got numb teeth from it and we eat alot of chinese! Next time i will ask for no extra msg.

          Attached are photos.

          ps. i didnt find it, so i cant take credit for that one!

          1. re: hargau

            Being really sensitive to MSG and not asking it be left out, my food did not have any in it. Maybe the cook was a different guy?

            Looking forward to trying the soup.

            LOL, if confusion occurs with one or two orders, I wonder what will happne if they start getting busy?

            1. re: three of us

              Interesting. Im quite certain there is only 1 cook there. Perhaps it was a particular thing i got. Im not very sensitive to msg and to be honest, I really did not feel good last night from it! In fact i was debating if i should eat the leftovers today or not, as tasty as they are! Could have been in the bbq sauce or the soup or something, who knows.

            2. re: hargau

              Went again last night. Got the singaport rice noodles again with the thai soup and got a order of the Salt & Pepper shrimp. Asked for no MSG this time. Everything was hot , fresh and tasty. Shrimp were excellent. Still no bubble tea though. Photos attached.

              1. re: hargau

                I'm heading there for lunch, today. Why aren't they serving bubble tea? Lord knows, they serve just about everything else.

                1. re: three of us

                  The owner explained to me that they have to make the tapioca pearls every AM and he has not trained anyone else to do it but himself. Something like that. I have been 3 times now and never have they had it. It kills me to see the posters for it though!

                  Oh and things were not confusing at all last night, i think cause the ownere was there.

                  He says he is going to start delivery once business picks up enough to justify hiring a driver.

                  Also he has stopped serving all the breakfast items and bakery items till the end of October so he can focus on the Chinese Food.

                  1. re: hargau

                    O.M.G. Thank you thank you thank you, three of us and hargau -- just finished pigging out on chinese broccoli, singapore rice noodle, salt & pepper shrimp, and tofu with shiitake. I can't believe food of this quality did not involve a drive to Belmont (Shangri La), North Cambridge (Qingdao), or even Chinatown. I am in heaven.

                    I told the owner that we'd read about his place on chowhound and he was aware of it, but hadn't read it yet.

                    For those who haven't gone there, it also features Terroir coffee and a large selection of loose teas, as well as Toscanini ice cream and Richardson's (!!!).

                    We were able to order customized dishes (catchow being vegetarian) with no problem, and the owner was quick to suggest complementary dishes.

                    Oh frabjous day! Calloo kallay!

        2. My sister has just moved to a small town EVEN farther away than Acton. Are there any vegetarian options on the menu? If so, I will send her the directions.

          2 Replies
          1. re: smtucker

            yes they are including the dish the original poster ordered above. Again the entire menu is on my blog site which you can get to by clicking my name. Plus its all cook to order and VERY informal so they would make you anything providing you can communicate it to them.

            1. re: hargau

              Thanks for posting the menu. I'm going to try it this weekend.

          2. I used to live less than a mile from this place, and there was nothing remotely as wonderful nearby for 20 years. Now visiting my folks seems more appealing!

            Stay in business, little restaurant! I'll be there soon!

            1 Reply
            1. re: LoDega

              OMG, I am so excited to try this place. I thought it was basically a coffee place for commuters. Good Chinese in Acton? I hope they're open Sundays, I'd like to go this weekend.