Great Chinese in Boston -- Help?
My brother and I were born in Boston but move to NY when we were quite young. We always came back to Boston to visit family and we both remember having the most amazing chinese (much better than NY). We are visiting family in mid Aug '08 and we are staying right by Faneuil Hall which is close to Chinatown. Does anyone have any suggestions? Also, if there are any places in the area that is a MUST, MUST, please let me know. Besides Chinese -- we LOVE all kinds of food but when in rome, must have great seafood. And, lastly, what would you recommmend at Faneuil Hall because we might have a quick dinner on the first night and not really venture out. Thanks and can't wait to hear your suggestions.
We really enjoy Chau Chow City for their dim sum. I don't know much about whats at Faneuil Hall these days. Have a blast.
Quick dinner near Faneuil Hall options (all MUCH closer than Chinatown, which is easily a 10-15 minute walk from Faneuil Hall):
Top Pick: Neptune Oyster on Salem St in the North End (10 min walk or less-so worth it - search for details - there are lots)
Japanese at Sakura Bana on Broad St.
Kingfish Hall at Faneuil - celebrity chef Todd English outpost - very good raw bar and tuna tartare, but overpriced even for the neighborhood
Durgin Park at Faneuil - old school basic New England fare with brusque waitstaff to boot-some claim its a must when in Boston..
Sel de La Terre: solid French across from the Aquarium (5 min)
Easiest and lower-priced, and consistent/surprisingly good for a chain: Houstons at Faneuil Hall
If you like spicy szechuan cuisine, try Mary Chung's restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge. It's a cult favorite-- very inexpensive, and boldly spicy. Try the "Suan La Chow Show" (meaty wontons over bean sprouts with a spicy hot/sour sauce). It's listed under the soups, but it's not really a soup-- kind of defies description, but it's so damn good..
I have a good Chinese friend who swears by the Best Little Restaurant, 13A Hudson Street (in basement) in Chinatown, I believe it used to be Ho Yuen Ting.
Better chinese food in Boston than NYC? Are we going to the same restaurants? I swear it's been the opposite when we've visited NYC just because of the higher turnover rate from having more people and the extra competition :-)
What type of chinese food?
Try Peach Farm opposite China Pearl for cantonese, if you mean cantonese chinese, seafood.
For sichuan, if you mean sichuan chinese, try sichuan gourmet in Billerica even if it's a drive (none in chinatown).
Try Taiwan Cafe in chinatown if you mean Taiwan chinese for dinner. Try Chung Shing Huan in watertown if you want Taiwanese dim sum.
For Cantonese dim sum, try China Pearl for consistency (Chau Chow, Hei La Moon, etc. have some dishes that are better but some that are worse). Or go across the street to Windsor Cafe for the order off the menu type of dim sum to get stuff fresher than off the carts on a slow day.
I feel the same as original poster-i used to live in Boston and now NYC-I always look so forward to Boston's Chintown food much more than NYC believe it or not. My fave has always been Chau Chow and for roast meats Hong Kong Eatery restaurant on Harrison. They have the most succulent roasted pig w crispy skin!!
They also make very good peking ravioli and scallion pancake at the Fung. The chow mein noodles are justly famous, and I love the noodles with "meat sauce" (no other details provided, but dang tasty - different noodles than chow mein).
I'd describe the decor as "post-diner industrial" - most of the stuff appears to have been salvaged - and if the owner's son is there he can be sassy. But it's a great Boston chowhound spot. It's also famous for peking duck (call 24 hours in advance, 1 duck per 5 people or so). I tend to get 1 greasy and unsatisfactory duck out of every 4 times I visit there, fwiw - but it's a great experience even on the occasional off nights. We have all our office parties at King Fung...
If you want peking duck, King Fung is the way to go. You have to call 24 hrs in advance to place the order, and they'll do the whole multi-course extravaganza, complete with a soup made from the duck. It's delicious. Though I know you can get awesome peking duck in NYC, so this may not be of as much interest.
For other chinatown faves, we LOVE Chau Chow Seafood (owned by the same folks as Chau Chow City, upthread) for excellent dishes like spicy dry fried soft shell crab or shrimp, and their chinese watercress.
For chinatown dim sum, we prefer China Pearl -- it's a real experience. Lots of comments on China Pearl on these boards, the search function will be your friend. Other hounds prefer Hei La Moon, but I haven't loved my visits there as much as China Pearl, which in any case is I believe more friendly for out-of-towners. (I know others will disagree, but to me Hei La Moon sometimes feels like you have to be in the in-club in order to have the best experience there.)
I like Mary Chung for their fiery/numbing sichuan fare (suan la chow shou, dan dan noodles), as well as the moo shu and the "shrimp with stumble eggs."
If you're willing to travel farther, Qingdao Garden in north cambridge on Mass Ave has terrific sichuan and northern fare -- the boiled fish fillet in fiery sauce is an explosion of sichuan peppercorns, and they also have otherwise hard-to-find stuff like lamb with spicy cumin sauce. Their dumplings rock -- we especially like the leek dumplings. Even further afield (and you'd need a car) is the Taiwanese fare at Shangri-La in Belmont. Both these places have lots of posts on these boards.
Speaking of dumplings, there are a fair number of places in chinatown where you can find soup dumplings, if that interests you. Lots of threads on that too in the boston boards (another search term for soup dumplings: "xlb").
Do post back after your trip and let us know what you enjoyed!
thanks everyone for the great suggestions -- I really appeciate it and the posts are great. I am going to rephase my comment about NY Chinese. There are great places especially Woo Hop in Chinatown in NYC, Shin Lee & Chin Chin and a few places in LI -- YUM, YUM just thinking about it. I guess what I meant more was everyday Chinese and it is just different. I live in LI and there are great place just not in my immediate hood (but there are other great places -- not a worry). It is a comment everyone says here. I am putting all the suggestions in a list. Seeing where we are going to be and talk to my brother. I am leaning towards Neptune Oyster and a Chinese fave. Thanks again and will let you know about my trip -- keep the suggestions coming.
I'll weigh in as a New York expat of Chinese ancestry, living in the Boston area.
"Everyday Chinese" is a little vague (roughly equivalent to "everyday European cooking"). If you're talking about Americanized Chinese food, that's one thing, if you're talking about real-deal regional Chinese cookery, that's a completely different issue.
There are plenty of places on Long Island that would easily outclass almost any place in Boston (assuming you count Flushing as part of Long Island), and a long list of places in Manhattan that also achieve consistently at a high level. I'm going to assume that you mean Cantonese cooking by "everyday Chinese," since it's the form that dominates all of the Chinatowns in the United States, and I'm reasonably sure that you could easily find superior alternatives in NYC to anything that we've got here. The things that Boston has that I have not found an equivalent for in New York would include northern Chinese cookery (I haven't found a substitute in New York after Tianjin GouBuLi bun closed; Qingdao Garden in North Cambridge does pretty well in that respect) and FuLoon Restaurant in Malden Center, which is staffed by a Beijing hotel-level chef and does multiple regional cuisines at a higher level than I've seen just about anywhere else. In Chinatown, you can also give some consideration to the Taiwan Cafe, which is a place for adventurous eating without having too much risk of winding up with weird stuff.
But from the buzz on this group, I'd say that the center of gravity for Chinese cookery in the Boston area is now the Allston/Brighton area, between Gitlo's and Jo Jo Taipei.
I think Little Q in Quincy deserves a look, that is, only if you like hot pot. I believe it's a chain restaurant in mainland China, I have seen their logo around Beijing/Tianjin, but I think this location is Taiwanese-run. This is the kind of hotpot place I would stay away from in China, but in America, it is novel and quite good. You can split a pot into two sections, and select a different broth for each half. I would recommend saving one half from excessive meat cooking, since it will eventually destroy the broth.
There are plenty of options for veggies, meats, noodles, etc. Their non-hotpot dishes are few, but the ones I've tried are not bad. The dumplings are tasty.
This is totally an authentic Chinese fast-food hotpot joint. From the cafeteria-ish look to the cheesy outfits, the choice of broth and sauces...yeah, it's Chinese. Not really traditional, but authentic.
echoing some earlier suggestions but since you're downtown, mary chung, chung shin yuan, jo jo taipaei may not be that convenient for you, although all are good.
if you're sticking to chinatown and mostly dining in small groups, hong kong eatery, yi ding hao (aka the china pearl cafe - a smaller restaurant big glass window on tyler street next to china pearl), and taiwan cafe are all personal favorites of mine.
chinatown cafe is a place that's kind of hard to recommend, but i can't leave it out here because it's like my comfort food. big portions and i've been eating there regularly since i was a kid, although there isn't anything there that is outstanding.
i beg to disagree with ur chinatown cafe opinion, yes it is true that it is a no frills eating place (plastic fork, spoon, styrofoam packages etc etc) but they have good chow, I think their roast pig is the best of all, they use pork belly, they have that Braised lamb with dried bean curd that is not available in other chinatown places, they have good wonton soup also, they have good cantonese, is what i am saying, and the portions, they are more generous
thanks for everyone helpful comments. It really helped a lot. It is hard to pre-plan where you are going to go. We had a great trip and were only in town for a day and 1/2. We ended up having chinese with my family in Stoghton at a place called Chinatown the first night -- great prok slices and the shrimp w/ brown lobster sauce (you don't get this in NY). It was good and it was great to see family I have not seen in years -- probably not as good as the suggestions below. Then we when to Union House for an early lunch -- one of the oldest places in US -- it was good -- we had chowder and clams. Since we had this the day before -- I wish we would have went to the North End for lunch (next time). Then we were going to go to Neptune Oyster or Barking Crab (suggestion from 2 friends that are from Boston area) but we were full from eating 3 meals a day (not a norm for either of us) so we decided to get back on the road to go home. I think I want to take a trip with the boyfriend and his daughter. -- maybe soon and will use eveything below. Thanks again.