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Best Inauthenic, Americanized Chinese?

I know where to find tasty, authentic regional Chinese with rich in spices and variety meats. However, I don't see a lot of discussion on where to find the best General Tso's chicken or crab Rangoon.

Ideally, this would be a polynesian-themed restaurant with a waterfall and drinks in tiki heads, but I don't know how many of those exist nowadays, so food is a priority over decor.

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  1. Far and away the best crab rangoons I've had are at Thai Moon in Arlington Center. I had surprisingly good takeout General Gau's chicken from Sun's Kitchen in Arlington recently as well - other food (scallion pancake, rice and dumplings) not so impressive, however...

    1. Great topic! I love both the authentic And the Americanized food at Qingdao Garden in North Cambridge, but I love them more for their authentic dishes (including their amazing dumplings). If you're looking for a good place that focuses mainly on Americanized Chinese food, I really like Tiki Palace in Braintree, Jade Garden in Arlington, and New Jumbo in Chinatown (though they do have a lot of authentic dishes as well).

      2 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        Do any of these do the decor? How are the drinks?

        1. re: the modern serf

          Tiki Palace is slightly cheesy, with Polynesian touches here and there. It's generally a very mellow place that locals know about but few others. Qingdao Garden has zero atmosphere, with bright lights making everyone look washed out (not a good place to go on a date!). Jade Garden is comfortable and spacious--probably the nicest of the ones I mentioned. New Jumbo is a bit more comfortable than most restaurants in Chinatown, and has just a hint of tackiness.

      2. iirc both Wang's Fast Food and Peach Farm do a good General Gau chicken (a friend of mine always orders that when we go to those places)...for tiki drinks, you could try the lounge in (New) China Pearl in Woburn

        2 Replies
        1. re: barleywino

          I live down the street from Wang's, so I've been getting a lot from them, but mostly the "sea cucumber and tripe" kind of stuff. Their not so good for dining in, but I guess I could order from them and do the tiki drinks and volcano stuff at home.

          1. re: barleywino

            The atmosphere and drinks at New China Pear in Woburn absolutely fit the bill. Last time we went I even saved my beautifully retro paper placemat that gave a large variety of recipes for various classic cocktails. I've mostly had dim sum there for food, but last time we had sweet and sour pork and pork fried rice and didn't love it.

            My favorite spot for pu pu platters is Oriental Garden in Haverhill. Funky atmosphere, too.

          2. Here are my favorites:

            East Asia: fried rice, egg drop soup, egg rolls (these three things are great, but everything else I've had from this place has been pretty bad: gloppy and sweet and overly saucy)
            Mary Chung: General Tso's, scallion pancakes, kung pao fish (no idea how I ended up ordering this, but it was really tasty!)
            Qingdao Garden: lo mein, egg rolls, orange beef
            Golden Temple: General Tso's

            -----
            East Asia Restaurant
            868 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

            Mary Chung Restaurant
            460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

            Qingdao Garden Restaurant
            2382 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

            1. I've got to think Golden Temple belongs on a list like this.

              Funny GT story. I have a coworker who grew up in Brookline/newton area. Sunday night was GT night. 30 + years ago he moved to NYC but could never find "decent" Chinese food.??? When he came home to vist family, first stop is always GT. Who am I to knock it? If I took him to Fuloon, he'd probably hate it. BTW, Fuloon does a great shrimp w/lobster sauce..an old fave for my father which he had when I took him there.

              This coud also tie in with why some of us enjoy Prince Pizza, Kowloon, Valle's. It may not empirically be the best, but if one grew up on it, we can tend to retain a fondness for it. I'm sure the steaks I eat today are far better than what I ate at Valle's 30 years ago, and wouldn't frequent themif they were open, but I still have fond memories of them.

              4 Replies
              1. re: 9lives

                I also thought Golden Temple, but maybe that's "most popular Americanized Chinese" vs "best?"

                1. re: steinpilz

                  I can't say I'm an expert on this genre but if it's the most popular (Is it?) enough people must think it's the best, or cheapest (impossible), or most convenient (for some), or some other quality.

                  I have been to Golden Temple a handful of times and while I don't think it's the best and far from it, and they're very expensive, they also use a higher quality of ingredients than many Chinese restaurants. I doubt the average Golden Temple devotee scratches their head and tries to decide on Golden Temple or Best Little Restaurant for dinner tonight.

                  1. re: 9lives

                    Something else Golden Temple has going for it (besides high quality ingredients, which is a plus for me) is ambiance. There don't seem to be many sit-down chinese restaurants that don't have fluorescent lighting and cheap metal chairs, where you can order a decent mai-tai. Although the interior architecture at GT is somewhat odd, at least the lighting is dim and the booths comfortable.

                    1. re: 9lives

                      I thought people went to Golden Temple for the dance floor?

                2. Chef Chang's - Brookline
                  Tiki Island - Malden
                  China Sky - Winchester

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: BJK

                    Tiki Island is actually in Medford, but on the Malden line. I have not eaten there in many years but know people who like it and II know they do have tiki drinks.

                    1. re: BJK

                      How does the food at Tiki Island compare to Kowloon? I've heard its better, but is it so much better that it makes up for the lack of decor?

                      1. re: BJK

                        Pretty sure Chef Chang's closed a while back.

                        1. re: bear

                          Yep, early 2010, replaced by the third Sichuan Gourmet.

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Oops, didn't notice how old this post is.

                      2. Ho Win palace in Everett. the best hands down

                        1. As for "a polynesian-themed restaurant with a waterfall and drinks in tiki heads," nobody, but nobody beats Kowloon on Rte. 1. It's insane!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: kmacjp

                            I've heard that the food is pretty bad at kowloon, but the decor looks amazing. Is there anything out there that's even close to that level of ridiculousness?

                            1. re: the modern serf

                              Here goes...I don't think the food is that bad at Kowloon. Granted, I haven't been there in a while, but I think they do the whole egg roll/chicken finger/spare rib/crab rangoon thing pretty well. And you can't beat the atmosphere.

                              1. re: twentyoystahs

                                I agree - it's really not that bad. I remember reading on another thread that they can actually put together authentic stuff, if you ask. Not that I would want anything other than neon red ribs, crab rangoons, or scorpion bowls.

                                1. re: nsenada

                                  Another Kowloon fan here. The OP is describing the place in his post. The food is great for what it is. Americanized Chinese. They don't pretend to be authentic Chinese like someplace in Chinatown. The also have very good sushi. Kowloon gets bashed pretty regularly here but the place is a fun night out with a giant menu. The only turnoff for me is the $9 mai tai. Wayyyyyy too expensive.

                          2. I wouldn't call it Americanized and all those hounds out there who love Chinatown would say it is "inauthentic" but it is good, fresh food, consistently excellent and great servic: Bernard's in the Chestnut Hill Mall. I don;t eat crab rangoon or General Tso's so I can;t help with that. Favorites are clams in black bean sauce, shrimp in black bean sauce with crispy shallots, Roast duck, honey roasted chicken, Chilean Sea Bass,

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: emilief

                              Definitely Golden Temple. Fabulous bar (excellent martinis, and excellent funny drinks with umbrellas) - Expensive, but very good quality ingredients. On another tack, a younger version of thisis Myers and Chang: hipper and not at all authentic. Not sure about General Gao's chicken at Golden Temple, but Golden Temple special spareribs are grand and the closest to GG's chicken I've had their is called Shanghai Chicken.

                              1. re: emilief

                                I went to Bernard's for the first time last weekend before an event at BC. I thought it was very good. Chicken wings were meaty, hot and fresh. Creative entree consisted of big fresh shrimp with avocados and a plum sake sauce. Side of garlic eggplant was very tasty, much like a version served at the Chili Garden in Medford. It was kind of pricey for Chinese food, but to be honest it was mainly because of the wine. Waitress was very attentive and friendly. Decor could use some sprucing up.

                                1. re: pemma

                                  I have to give a third to Bernards- definitely some good takes on those "Americanized" classics. Delicious food and fresh tasting. You're right though Pemma on the decor-something is definitely left to be desired.

                              2. My faves are Billy Tse's Revere and Boston, and Out of Asia on Rt 1 in Saugus.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: phatchris

                                  I'd have to agree with Billy Tse's. I'm a huge fan of their food and they beat any other Chinese delivery!

                                2. I have to say I was a little embarrassed when my mother-in-law ordered the crab rangoons at Mary Chung (which I'd never even noticed were on the menu), but damned if they weren't really tasty!

                                  I might also nominate the char siu at Myers & Chang, which clearly isn't going for Vinh-Sun level BBQ authenticity, but isn't serving magenta-syrup-glazed boneless spareribs either: pretty damned fine, and thrown down in a much cooler than usual atmosphere.

                                  My favorite American-Chinese places used to be Changsho and Chef Chang's, but I haven't been back to either in years: the latter in particular seemed to go downhill steeply after the revered grandfather passed. (His coming to the table to carve a Peking duck was an early bit of my Boston dining experience that I'll always remember fondly.)

                                  Since then, my American-Chinese budget lunch fix has been overtaken by the inimitably-named Pu Pu Hot Pot, which I only discovered because I managed to forget ten times in a row that the not-especially-authentic-either Mary Chung is closed on Tuesdays. Really a very decent little cup of soup and plate of something in brown sauce with rice for five or six dollars.

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    modern serf, stop worrying about the food at Kowloon and just go! It is the exact place you are looking for and on weekend nites they even have loungish music by the water fountains under the thatch huts. AND, we have been even enjoying the food quite a bit for the past couple years it has improved. Even very good sushi.(although i have opersonally only had the vegetarian sushi) The thai food is decenT. Also, I crave the shrimp and noodle dish. Its really just a huge bowl of angel hair with a standard light chowmein sauce and lots of veggies and tons of shrimp. I am guessing that the Poopooplatters are good, as that is what most people get. Saugus wings have a great rep too,
                                    And my rec for really fresh, consistent, simple, basic americanized chinese with no crazy atmosphere is Bamboo House in Wakefield. It is a basic place with the family who owns it hanging out, eating , playing with their kid, watching tv, and they are really sweet and make very fresh cheap eats. They have the best white rice, only use jasmine.. Great salmon(cut in pieces) with veggies choose of 3 ways, excellent rangoon, spring rolls, chow foon, The veggies are always a step above the usual bamboo shoots and broccoli as they usually add summer squash, zucchini, or whatever is fresh..

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      The lunch specials at PPHP are really not bad, particularly for the price. I quit liking their normal fare several years ago - a combo of my own changing taste buds and them going south a bit, but a few years ago I found myself there for lunch and was pleasantly surprised. Not by any means a travel destination, but you can do worse in El Centrale for lunch.

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        Chef Chang's just isn't what it used to be for pupu style chinese. The General Gau's, egg rolls, and fried rice are just noticeably...weaker...than they used to be. I would say I prefer Changsho, but rarely make it out there.

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          I have to disagree about Chef Chang's. We're regulars there, and for what they make, it's delicious. I have yet to find Peking Duck prepared any better in Boston. And, now that my New Yorker brother in law turned me into a beef chow fun with spicy black bean sauce fanatic, Chef Chang's is happy to prepare it for me. In fact, since I started ordering it, I find they're preparing the standard dishes we order a lot less Americanized.

                                          As for Mary Chung's, to me it's all about the suan la chow show, and dun dun noodles, and Peking ravioli.

                                          Back in the day, Changsho was THE place to go. Now, to me, it just seems overpriced and much more Americanized than it ever was.

                                          1. re: CookieLee

                                            I'll usually get the suans and dun dun noodles with shredded chicken at Mary's. However, her versions of General Gao's Chicken and Moo Shi Pork are the best around, in my view. The Moo Shi Pork is reminiscent of that served at Joyce Chen's in its heyday.

                                            1. re: Kenji

                                              I rarely order The General, unless I'm drunk or hungover. That being said, after having it somewhat forced upon me at Mary's, I've come to really like it there. It isn't at all the same as you find in other places.

                                              1. re: Kenji

                                                I've had the moo shi there, and agree, it's v. tasty.

                                                1. re: CookieLee

                                                  Yes, it has this roasty flavor that I adore!!!

                                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                                              Changsho, in my somewhat-recent-but-not-2009 experience, is actually quite tasty. And it's way, way faster on Christmas than Golden Temple ;)

                                            3. Makhara on Great Road in Acton, off Rt 27.

                                              Very inauthentic, but pretty tasty.

                                              There was a place I went to a long time ago in the Westford area that served
                                              rolls and butter. You had to ask for rice and doubt if they even had chopsticks.
                                              The waitresses were all blondes named Darlene - how inauthentic can you get?!

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: sultanp

                                                Royal East on Main Street in Cambridge.
                                                All the food is good, hot and very tasty if inauthentic.
                                                Great spare ribs, crispy duck, soups, fried rice, moo shu.

                                                1. re: holldoll

                                                  Do they still use frozen peas and die-cut carrot cubes in the food at Royal East? That put me off that place forever.

                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                    I take it you a pea eater, not a chef? ;-) Unless you have access to fresh-picked peas, and by fresh-picked I mean <24 hours or preferably less (not likely this time of year), frozen peas are almost always superior (and don't overcook!). The sugar in peas doesn't last long if they are not flash-frozen immediately on picking.

                                                    Now if they were canned, that's a different matter! Eew. And I agree, it may make no real difference in flavor, but machine-cut vegetables always turn me off. Good food should have some random personality in it that only human hands can engender.

                                                    I haven't been to Royal East in a long time, but they used to have a sweet and sour breaded chicken stuffed with diced water chestnuts that I liked. I'm pretty sure it wasn't authentic, but it was delicious.

                                              2. Ok. I'm digging up an old thread because I need a new place to deliver me some tasty Americanized Chinese. Zoe's has been our go-to spot, but with the sad news about their building collapse, it looks like I'm going to have to get my fix somewhere else. Anybody have other favorites?

                                                23 Replies
                                                1. re: mkfisher

                                                  I like Mary Chung and Qingdao Garden for Americanized Chinese. I don't like Changsho or Golden Temple at all.

                                                  1. re: mkfisher

                                                    I got delivery from Beijing Kyoto this weekend, and was quite pleasantly surprised by it. I'd recommend it.

                                                    1. re: mkfisher

                                                      If you are willing to go to Kowloon in Saugus, drive further up Route 1 and go to Bali Hai in Lynnfield. Best Mai Tais in Massachusetts.

                                                      For take-out, if Golden House in Everett is near you, race there to Ferry Street. OMG. So good.

                                                      I have other suggestions around the state but those are my first recommendations. LOVE LOVE LOVE their food at both places.

                                                      1. re: thedryer

                                                        thedryer: Have you been to Sichuan Garden II in Woburn?
                                                        Good americanized Chinese, very good Sichuan, and a terrific Trader Vics Mai Tai.

                                                        1. re: justbeingpolite

                                                          justbeingpolite: No, I haven't but I'll put it on my list when I'm over in that area! Thanks!!!

                                                        2. re: thedryer

                                                          Saying this place has the best mai tais in Mass just about made my head explode. What a bold statement! I am going to try it out (soon).

                                                          If its better then Drink or Dragon 88 I am going to be in your debt.

                                                          1. re: ac106

                                                            Bring a driver if you are going to have more than 2, omg they are yummy. (They are a darker Mai Tai vs. the ones you get some places that are too sweet.) Seriously, the BEST ones around. Their food is pretty good too but the place is a dive, just warning you. :)

                                                            1. re: thedryer

                                                              Try making a homemade one some time...

                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                My husband and I have tried making them but it's like we are missing whatever magic the bars seem to have!

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    I really like Luxardo amaretto instead of orgeat and also some clove for the falernum.

                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                      Amaretto as a substitute for orgeat syrup? Wow, I think my head just exploded. It's so simple; what a great idea.

                                                                      1. re: Klunco

                                                                        The Luxardo product is just so dang delicious, WAY better than any almond syrup or extract you can buy. I also use it for baking.

                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                          Agreed on that. We made chocolate mousse spiked with it (Luxardo) this week and it was delicious.

                                                                          1. re: Klunco

                                                                            I have a friend who swore by Ameretto d'Sarono. On a visit to my house, I served him Luxardo Amaretto. He's never gone back. Never thought of substituting it for orgeat, however. Must try it!

                                                                            1. re: kimfair1

                                                                              Yah this has been a topic in some booze threads, but the Luxardo product is SO much better than d'Sarono.

                                                                          2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                            I thought most amaretto liqueurs were made with fruit stones (apricot pits, peach pits, etc.) Weird how that comes out tasting like almond, which I long assumed was the actual basis for the spirit. Do you know what Luxardo uses?

                                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                              They are all very closely related fruits; sour cherry pits (avoiding waste of a significant industrial byproduct of pitted sour cherries....) are another source of the benzaldehyde, the essence of the flavor.

                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                Bitter almond was my understanding.

                                                                                http://www.luxardo.it/liqueurs/amaret...

                                                                                From the Luxardo web site listed above:

                                                                                "the distinctive flavor lent by the mandorla amara (the bitter almond)... their flavor is enhanced by sweeteners, and sometimes sweet almonds, in the final product."

                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                  Yes, bitter almond was the original reference point for flavor. But I doubt they only use bitter almonds, or even much.

                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                    Yah I did wonder myself, as bitter almonds are toxic.

                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                      Stone fruit pits also contain cyanide (as bitter almonds do), so they all have to be processed carefully to avoid toxicity.

                                                          2. Lately we've (the wife and I, kid in tow) been going to Mandarin House in Putterham Circle (Brookline/West Roxbury), for our American Chinese fix, the food is solid Chinese American and the tiki drinks are there and potent. I like Golden Temple for this sort of thing as well, but Mandarin House is cheaper, and it has a parking lot (Golden Temples can have some challenging parking some nights)

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: devilham

                                                              I'll admit to liking that place too. Easy parking, good for kids, not too expensive. Sometimes it feels like the dining hall of an assisted living facility but not in an unpleasant way... And the food is pretty good as long as one is willing to suspend any health or food snob agendas. They have a good touch with the fryer there.

                                                              1. re: skordalia

                                                                Amen Skordalia, amen....especially the assisted living thing, on the upside, the old folks (who are lovely, btw) love my little guy

                                                            2. Anyone try Shanghai social club yet? The yelps are indicating that it is more an American Chinese place with quality product.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: coolaugustmoon

                                                                Isn't that what it was aiming to be?

                                                                1. re: coolaugustmoon

                                                                  I have: a good first impression. American-Chinese with a more modern sensibility, a bit like what Myers & Chang does with more traditional pan-Asian. Only dish I didn't like was the chicken skin bao, which had a stale, fried-ahead flavor. Very good bar program: proper old-school Tiki drinks. Atmosphere will remind you of a pocket-sized Red Lantern or Empire, sans the push-up teddies on the female severs. Not cheap, but a fair value. Promising.

                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                    Chicken skin sounds like a good idea. No good eh? What else did you try?

                                                                2. god forgive me i like Fortune Panda in Thompsonville ( part of Newton, right on Rt.9) for this kind of food.

                                                                  http://www.fortunepandanewton.com/

                                                                  1. Not through my own choosing, bil ordered General Tsao's chicken at Sichuan Gourmet in Brookline. I really like their version, it has some interesting spice in it and not a lot of coating. They do a lot of things well so it is worth going. Sichuan noodles are quite good, but are not really americanized.

                                                                    1. The true test of an Americanized Chinese restaurant is whether they serve rolls with dinner. The bread is a must. Venture up to Nashua NH and visit Haluwa - it has not changed since the 70's.

                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                      1. re: whs

                                                                        That's a specifically local tradition; rolls are not generally found in Americanized Chinese joints outside this region. In the NY area, bags of fried noodles are the traditional accompaniment, for example.

                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                          having grown up in ny, the rolls up here freaked me out, lol.

                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                            Agreed.....I grew up in the Hartford area and was shocked to find rolls in my takeout orders when I moved to Boston. Fried noodles were always included in CT, and were served (gratis) on the table at all restaurants.

                                                                          2. re: whs

                                                                            And dishes vary. The most popular dish in some areas doesn't exist here. It's almond boneless chicken: a deep fried chicken breast, sliced and covered in brown sauce with slivered almonds. Another common dish elsewhere is "steak kew".

                                                                            1. re: lergnom

                                                                              Or the fact that shrimp with lobster sauce is two totally different dishes in Boston vs. say NYC.

                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                nobody outside this area knows what peking ravioli are either.

                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                    Ha! Forgot about that one.....yes, we grew up just calling them "dumplings". When I arrived here in 1984, I didn't have the foggiest notion about what people were referring to when they asked if I wanted "Peking Ravioli".

                                                                              2. re: whs

                                                                                Literally nothing has changed in that place, it was like stepping back in time! And I'm not sure it was in a good way...

                                                                                1. re: whs

                                                                                  I remember a Chinese-American restaurant in Rutland,VT that served rolls..also choice of French fries or rice..:)

                                                                                  1. re: 9lives

                                                                                    China by the Sea in Boothbay Harbor, ME not only offers fries - it also offers burgers!

                                                                                  2. re: whs

                                                                                    In the Brockton area our Chinese came with sliced French bread.

                                                                                  3. Fantasy Island in Swampscott meets the decor criteria, dont miss karaoke night .

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: drewinmrblhd

                                                                                      i lived in salem for 7 years and was never brave enough to go in that place!

                                                                                    2. I think I'm convincing the DH to go for Chinese food and drinks tonight. Yee Dynasty in Manchester NH has amazing drinks and food. There is nothing like Boston Chinese food but this is as close as I can get to up here.