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Nov 20, 2009 10:02 AM

Worthwhile Chinese food in the Boston Area?

I moved away from the Boston area 3 years ago and am in town for a visit.

Since moving away, I've had some great to absolutely phenomenal Chinese meals in Flushing New York, Philly, LA and SF. And I'm wondering whether there are any places in the Boston area that might compare.

To give some more info, before leaving, I tried a number of Chinese places in the area: Qingdao Garden (Cambridge), Chili Garden (Medford), Shangri La (Belmont), Beijing Star (Waltham), Zoe's (Somerville), Taiwan Cafe, Victoria's, China Pearl, and fairly recently, Hei La Moon & Hong Kong Eatery. To put it lightly, with maybe a possible exception of the dumplings at Beijing Star, nothing really sticks out in my mind as being all that memorable.

So did I miss any place while I was here? Have any new places opened up since I left? Or does Boston come up short wrt Chinese food and I should concentrate on other cuisines?

I'd also be curious to know if there are any places in Quincy worthwhile going to, which had a growing Chinese population when I left.

Thanks in advance! I look forward to what you have to say.

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  1. Vinh Sun BBQ, Chinatown:
    Jo Jo Tapei, 103 Brighton Ave., Allston:

    1. How well did you explore the menu at Shangri-La? There are some truly superb dishes there. Beijing Start you really have to order off the Chinese menu or have Dim Sum. The rest of your choices are only middling. For Dim Sum Try Winsor or Shangri La. Jo Jo mentioned below is worth a visit as is Fuloon, Best Little Restaurant, Shanghai Gate and Wang's in Somerville particularly for dumplings.

      1. Boston does not come up short with respect to Chinese food --- in fact, quite the opposite. Some of the places that you mentioned (Qingdao, Chili Garden, Shangri-la, Beijing Star, Zoe's nad Taiwan Cafe) should have been very good, but all are just slightly below the very top tier in Boston, IMHO. Here are the top tier, and some suggestions of what to order there:

        Fuloon in Malden (Jing Pao Duck, Wok Baked Beef, Whole Fishes)
        Jo Jo Taipei in Allston (Pancake with scallion and roast beef, three cup chicken, smelly tofu)
        Sichuan Gourmet in Framingham and Billerica (Sichuan food)
        Wang's in Somerville (Dumplings, Dumplings and Dumplings)
        Little Q in Quincy (Hotpot)

        I think it can depend a lot on what you order at a restaurant. For example, Taiwan Cafe has phenomenal thousand year egg with tofu, three cup chicken, pan fried cod filet with soy sprinkles and vegetarian dumplings. Zoe's has excellent sweet and sour lotus root, cumin lamb, and strange flavor chicken. But I will admit that there are also dishes at both of those restaurants that don't sing like those ones do, and Taiwan Cafe and Zoe's can be phenomenal when they are "on" and okay when they are "off". Shangri-la is much better for weekend brunch than it is for dinner.

        However, the five I mentioned above are more consistent and more of their menu items are phenomenal.

        If you like Shanghainese food, I would add Shanghai Gate in Allston. If you like Taiwanese brunch I would try Chung Shin Yuan in Newton on weekends only. For a Peking Duck feast, try King Fung Garden, but call at least one day ahead.

        2 Replies
        1. re: lipoff

          Thanks lipoff, sorry I didn't have time to reply before, but this was kind of what i was looking for. Will do my best to try out some of your suggestions.

          1. re: lipoff

            Do not overlook FuLoon's fabulous pork belly with dried beancurd leaf....

          2. What sort of dishes do you typically order?? Alot has to do with regional preferences and tastes.

            I still recall a girl I once knew telling me how all Chinese food is awful around here. When i asked for more details, it turned out that she had this opinion because when she orders fried rice (for her whole meal) it doesnt have peas and carrots in it like she used to get in the mid west.....

            Im not suggesting that is the case here but a funny story anyway..

            5 Replies
            1. re: hargau

              This is funny, and so true. We took a friend to Shangri-La (one of our favorites) and she thought it "sucked" because they "don't bring rolls to the table." Needless to say, she is a huge fan of chicken fingers w/duck sauce . . . not that there's anything wrong with that!


                1. re: gansu girl

                  Here in western Maine we have some downright bizarre chinese food traditions. Needless to say, authentic chinese food is not to be found, but neither are even some of the modest developments to Americanized chinese food (more spice, more sichuan flavors, etc.). It's straight up 1950s style Americanized cantonese, heavy on the duck sauce and the egg foo whatnot.

                  My favorite thing is that all the cantonese dishes that are traditionally served with roast pork are here made with ham. Ham Lo Mein, Ham Fried Rice, Mushu Ham, etc.

                  Hilarious! Even the Kowloon would be a welcome site to me now.

                    1. re: tamerlanenj

                      My parents moved outside Rutland, VT in the late 70's from NYC. The local Chinese place always served rolls to start. Every lunch/dinner plate came wit your choice of French fries or rice,

                      No wonder my bro and I learned to cook..:)

                2. Please name your favorite meals in Flushing, Philly, LA and SF and people can suggest similar or complementary things.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Luther

                    Luther & Hargau, I'm very open. I have a Cantonese background, but when it comes to other regions, I'll generally stick to recommendations from others and have generally enjoyed them. I think my most recent memorable dining experiences for Chinese have been: hot oil dumplings at White Bear (Flushing), various Xi'an dishes at Xian Famous Foods (Flushing), pork bone soup at Wenzhou ZhuJi (Flushing), and just outstanding dimsum at Koi Palace (San Fran area).

                    If you do give restaurant recs, even for places I've tried before, I'd love to hear your top picks for dishes. Cheers!

                    1. re: fivefivefive

                      Fivefivefive, for Cantonese seafood, try Peach Farm. It is like ShiaoLanKung in Philly, and a little more seafood-centric. I am a reader on the Philly board and have enjoyed your posts. It is a pleasure finally posting on your thread!

                      I'd like to ask a question -- a few years ago the daipaidong Chinese places on the second floor of one of the buildings at the intersection between Beach and Harrison were closed down due to the building converting into a loft. The daipaidong place by the entrance (husband and adult son ran the Chinese food place, and wife ran the juice stand on the other side of the entrance) -- does anyone know if and where they re-opened? How was it? I miss all their dishes and their lotus root, dried octopus, little red bean with ginger soup. I have been eating there since I was a college student in the mid 90s. Please help!

                      1. re: MBACF

                        Thanks MBACF for your kind comment and your response above. It's really nice to have a comparison between Philly and Boston, since my mind has been so Philly oriented recently.

                        Btw, I'm so sad to hear about the closing of the daipaidong in Chinatown. I also grew up in Mass and the daipaidong was one of the places that my family used to visit throughout the years.