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Mar 12, 2009 09:23 AM

Butterfly, Hadley MA: Best Chinese Food in the Valley?

I've been to butterfly twice recently and must say I'm really impressed with the quality and authenticity of their Chinese food. I spent two months in china a couple of summers ago and occasionally need a fix. I've been traveling to Flushing Queens but have been looking for something more local. Butterfly is the first place in the area that satisfies.

A word of caution: Not all of their menus are equally tasty. The "Szechuan" and "Gourmet" are noticeably more interesting/authentic then their larger regular menu which appears to have the same dishes as every other American Chinese restaurant in America. They don't always give the Szechuan and Gourmet menus to customers (why?) so be sure to grab them on your way in the waiter doesn't supply you with them.

I've sampled the ma po dofu, stuffed eggplant, Szechuan potatoes, and mango chicken.

The ma po dofu was spot on and better then many places i've tried in nyc. The dish was flavored with ground pork, hot peppers, black beans, and sprinkled with roasted Szechuan peppercorn to give it that distinctive burn (buzzing, numbing) flavor. perfect.

The Szechuan Potatoes we also done just right. This is not a vegetable Americans normally associate with Chinese food but I saw it all over China. The potatoes are shredded and then tossed with (hot) fried green pepper, green onions, some other spices and a sauce. The dish had a great "breath of the wok" flavor. The potatoes would be undercooked by typical western standards but in this dish their slight crunch is appropriate (and tasty). The version at butterfly is better then many found in china.

The stuffed eggplant was good but not amazing. Slices of eggplant are stuffed with ground meat (pork i think) and then fried. A sauce (soy, maybe oyster as well) is put on top. I would consider ordering again but only after exploring the rest of the menu.

The mango chicken was done well but is too sweet for my taste. It was served in two halves of a fresh mango intermixed with mango slices and red peppers. Good but (like almost always with this dish) too sweet.

They also have a sushi bar (eh) and like mentioned up top, the standard american chinese menu.

Summary: Great chinese food in Northampton/Amherst area but order from the gourmet or szechuan menus.

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  1. checked out their website are they located where that mongolian wok place was (debbie wong for us long time valley residents)? Better than Amherst Chinese for authenticity? Maybe different style. I'm not so up on my chinese regional cuisines. Sounds good anyway.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chrisandbetsyc

      I haven't been to Amherst Chinese in several years - from what i remember that have some really great vegetable dishes mixed in with a collection of "eh" dishes. It's on my list to try sometime soon again (I'm waiting until some of the local greens will be available).

      I can say the szechuan dishes at butterfly were spot on. Since I haven't been to Amherst Chinese since spending time in China I'm not sure what kind of cuisine it is.

      1. re: boris_qd

        An additional separate menu they have is a full vegetarian menu with Vegetarian Chicken,Beef Pork & Shrimp. While I cannot attest to the authenticity or this menu (Although My first experience with Chinese 'Veggie' Meats was on the West Coast) I will attest to the quality, and tastiness. They also have a selection of Veggie Sushi rolls as well. Butterfly quickly became our Chinese restaurant of choice.

    2. Tried them yesterday for lunch and based on reading this thread, I ordered off the gourmet menu. I didn't see another menu option for Szechuan items, though, only the gourmet menu. I ordered the Braised Beef Chow Fun and it was delicious. Wide rice noodles, generous amount of beef, some ginger, beean sprouts and fresh mint. The soup base was rich and had some spices in it similar to pho. The portion was generous, definitely too much for me to finish. I'd definitely go back and try some other things on the menu. My only sticking point was that the noodles were so overcooked that they fell apart and basically I ate them with the spoon in small chunks. Im used to the noodles being added to the soup and cooking in the soup before serving, and it doesn't appear they did that in this case.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bri

        The Szechuan menu is Yellow and (usually) next to the other menus when you enter. To me it's a mystery why They don't automatically hand it out when people enter. I guess they "size" you up in someway first. Definitely grab a copy next time when you enter.

        (The Szechuan and gourmet menus are different)

        Sorry to hear about the noodles in the soup.

      2. Have been looking for good Chinese food in the Valley for 6 years, so thanks for the recommendation! We finally settled on Great Wall in Florence because it is closer than others. I really like their ginger green beans, but most of their food is just so-so. Have never traveled in China but if you ever try Great Wall, would like to know what you think. I think you can order off the menu.

        9 Replies
        1. re: fillyfilet

          The special menu (gourmet menu?) is the one to order from at the Great Wall. Some of those dishes are delicious, e.g. the Dragon's Skin, or a name like that.

          1. re: BerkshireTsarina

            I love The Great Wall though it occasionally has its off nights. We had pan fried whole flounder a couple of weeks ago that was utterly fresh and perfectly done. The skin and bones were crispy and wonderfully spiced. The flesh was cooked to a super succulent translucence. The lamb with ginger and green spring onions was great . Stuffed eggplant and steamed greens with black mushrooms are winners as well.
            Amherst Chinese is a favorite too. We are lucky to have two very delicious Chinese restaurants in our midst. I'll try the yellow menu at Butterfly. Maybe that'll make three good places to go.

            1. re: Big Fat Moe

              Moe, yes! The stuffed eggplant was one of the delicious ones I was thinking of. Will have to try Butterfly as well. Thanks.

              1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                Another great Chinese food restaurant is Wing Wong in Hadley! Authentic dishes are great (Beef Chow Fun, Beef Brisket, Cantonese Chow Mein). Very reasonably priced as well.

                1. re: bwhboston

                  Wing Wong is trash. I prefer Great Wall to Butterfly, but both are very good.

                2. re: BerkshireTsarina

                  I don't see stuffed eggplant on the menu. Is it called something else?

                  Anyone else have dish recommendations at Great Wall in Florence?

                  1. re: corinnerose

                    I thought that it was called stuffed eggplant --- that's what it was!
                    But we live in REALLY Western MA, not the more citified Pioneer Valley LOL, and only get to have Chinese food at Great Wall or Butterfly every little once in a while, so we haven't been recently (what with the snows and the cold). Sorry.

                    1. re: corinnerose

                      All the fish I've had at Great Wall has been very good.

                  2. re: Big Fat Moe

                    Try the roast chicken off the gourmet menu at Great Wall. Very simple dish, perfectly seasoned and cooked.

              2. At Butterfly I love the spicy salted shrimp with head from the gourmet menu... fresh shrimp prepared as app or meal......fantastic