Jo Jo Taipei kills Mary Chung!!
Just went to Mary Chung's for the Dan Dan noodles and dumplings and was disappointed.
What is the big deal with Mary Chung? Granted the prices are great at Mary Chung's, but for a little more, Jo Jo Taipei kills Mary Chung's Dan Dan Noodles, dumplings, and scallion pancakes!!
Jo Jo's Dan Dan noodles are thick, firm and chewy, while Mary Chung's were just typical egg noodles. Jo Jo simply is fresher, uses better quality ingredients and has a much nicer atmosphere.
Am I missing something?
I haven't tried Jo Jo's yet, but I don't think you're missing something. While I like Mary Chung and enjoy their dan dan noodles and a handful of other dishes, it's not what I consider great. Their suan la chau shou (the wontons in a spicy, vinegary soy sauce) also gets raves here, and when I tried them I just though they were meh. The sauce is pretty good, but their wontons are way too meaty and too firm - not at all fluffy as a good wonton should be. In comparison to other Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood, it's heads above the rest but it doesn't hold a candle in my opinion to the best in MA.
I like Mary Chung for the nostalgia factor and I've had excellent food there on occasion. In addition to the suan la chow shou the scallion pancakes can be very good. *Can be* is operative here.
I agree that Jo Jo Taipei is much better, and I've had better scallion pancakes at Fuloon (stuffed with pork) Quingdao and Taiwan Cafe. The best scallion pancake I've had recently, or maybe ever, was at Winsor.
I wish I had nostalgia as a factor. Some friends swear by this place, but to me it is the epitome of mediocre Chinese food. Totally agree on the suan la chaoshou: tough and doughy, not silky and tender like I like my wontons.
The Cantonese selections are deplorable. As a Cantonese who grew up in SF I go by the beef chow fun index. They don't even use fresh fun here and I don't think soy sauce and garlic are what make chow fun. Ugh, so bad.
Then again, I would definitely go here for "bad, American Chinese" which I sometimes crave. I mean, their General Gau's is solid, for what it's worth.
I hate to hate, but I can't think of any other place that is more overrated.
we went to mc last week, my dc posted a review, and we thought it was pretty poor. the more recent review on this site, raving about how MC is heaven by 3dogs, actually made me question the value of reviews on chowhound. i just cant imagine anyone with any knowledge of chinese food, or really for that matter, anyone who has eaten at numerous spots in chinatown, would use the term heaven and MC in same line.
It's reviews like 3dogs et al and the ones here that make me value the reviews on chowhound. People are willing to think independently for themselves, rather than engage in a lemming like group think. Everyone has a different opinion on food and I'm glad we're all able to (1) express those diverse opinions in a friendly respectful way, and (2) decide on a individual basis how to weigh these diverse experiences.
OK - I loved it.
I never said I was an expert in Chinese food. Never tried to give that impression. I DON'T have the same experience that others have. No, I haven't eaten at numerous spots in Chinatown - so I send my apologies to you and anyone else who disagrees with me.
However - the day that everyone has to conform to the same parameters - that would be sad.
It's an utter and complete fallacy that there are objective 'good' and 'bad' restaurants and Boston area restaurant experiences. Where one lived, how often they eat what how often where does not change this simple fact. Questioning the validity of others' experience simply demonstrates that this simple fact is not understood.
Reading Chowhound consistently reveals a fabric of peoples' experiences and values that supports one's own subjective journey through what the Boston area offers.
Mary Chung: it's inexpensive, Mary is an institution. Proximity matters, a lot. Many people associate it with their experience at MIT or Central Square and therefore it can be powerfully evocative of their over-all experience at that time in their lives. Or they like it for some other reason :).
Threedogs, thanks for your post, I hope you'll continue to share your experiences; they are (as limster more eloquently states) specifically what makes Chow valuable.
Haha, I find it kind of amusing that Mary Chung is getting so much buzz here. I went there for the wontons and the noodles, I loved them (though I agree the noodles should be the wider, softer kind, the sauce was very well made). Some other things were fine, but I would not ever be putting this place up next to the "real" Chinese places in town, and probably only make it there for those dumplings, which I like for their firmness, meatiness, sauce. I mentioned in another post the less tangible and non-food related aspects that I think make it a fun place to go.
To be honest, the best version of that dish I ever had was made by Xiao Long at New Taste of Asia, but I can't get them anymore.
I had the suan la wontons at JoJo, and while I generally like that place a lot, the dumpling dish was awful, the sauce overly sweet and the dumplings overcooked.
I don't think you can compare Mary Chung to Mulan or Jo Jo Taipei. MC is old school, american chinese food with more emphasis on the chinese than the american. But, it isn't Taiwanese cooking a la Mulan or JoJo Taipei.
You also can't compare it to any cantonese restaurants or judge it on any cantonese dishes because it isn't a Cantonese place.
And, for me, the nostalgia value is high. Back in the mid 1980s, this was the only place to get Northern dim sum, the kind I grew up with. Mary was always so welcoming to students and made everyone feel like home. In the mid-1990s, I had a very small wedding lunch there with just the parents on both sides. It was the perfect compromise since my Chinese parents would like the food, but I could also find dishes for my mid-western in laws who have never really had chinese food before. Mary helped us bridge both worlds with dishes that everyone was happy with.
Moreover, when MC is on it's ON. But, it is touch and go, depending on who's cooking and who's making the dumplings. I've had suan la chau show that's practically melted in my mouth, leaving behind a slight burning sensation. I've also had expertly fried scallion pancakes. I've also had mediocre versions of the two.
I don't go to MC that often since I prefer Mulan, Shangri La and Jo Jo Taipei. But, I also don't categorize MC in the same restaurant field. To me, MC stands alone and they'll always have a special place in my heart.