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Hot and Sour Soup

For years, my family has lamented to general decline in quality of chinese food and the corallary rise in other types of Asian food - like Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese.

One thing I have found indicative is the Hot and Sour soup. To me it seems a decent bowl is rarely really hot nor sour.

I guess I was wondering if anyone agrees with me, and moreover, might have a recommendation for a place that serves very good H/S soup.


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  1. I'm no expert. But about a year ago I had the best (imo) bowl of family style hot and sour soup, great blending of flavors, not too much or too little vinegar, soy, not too thick or thin, at East Ocean City. My kids remember it as the best ever.

    2 Replies
    1. re: justbeingpolite

      I am certainly not a hot and sour soup expert but I like the one at Joyful Garden in Brighton.

      1. re: justbeingpolite

        agree on East ocean city's hot and sour. At all places, you can request chinese vinegar to make it more sour.

      2. General decline??? where are you eating?

        1. Great topic! Hot and Sour soup is one of my favorites-and I cannot seem to find a good bowl of it lately either. I look forward to seeing peoples suggestions!

          1. My house.

            I like mine better than most restaurants in Boston. That's sad, IMO. It's one of my favorite things, and I am usually disappointed. Still, I am compelled to order it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: C. Hamster

              I like the Jae's Cafe version, but haven't tried c. hamsters yet.

              1. re: Ora Moose

                I would love to have Jae's recipe and C. Hamster's

                perhaps a cookoff!

            2. Wang's in Somerville.

                1. The hot and sour soup at Best Little Restaurant is both hot and sour and loaded with treats like pork, tofu and egg, as opposed to the more brothy soups. Hong Kong Eatery also makes a really good version but it doesn't come in a single-serving size. The smallest size is about 5 bowls worth.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Velda Mae

                    Heck, BLR, Great Taste, and Shangri-La three of my favs... have to try the others...

                  2. Still my favorite hot and sour soup after 20+ years is at Uncle Cheungs on the eastbound side of Rte. 9 in Framingham. Gotta love it. Not gloppy, full of wonderful veggies, with pork strips in the perfectly balanced hot and sour broth. Delicious every time.


                    1. We like the H&S soup at Shangri La, but last week we had it at Great Taste and I think I might like theirs even more . . . the broth's not too thick, it's LOADED with pork, tofu, egg, etc. and it's spicy and sour. I love that place, generally!


                      1. I'm a huge fan of the hot and sour at Peach Farm. It's got big chunks of pork and tofu in it, and it's definitely both hot and sour. The best part is if you go for lunch, it comes with with lunch special which will run you less than $6 for a dish, rice, a side and the aforementioned hot and sour soup.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: tysonmcneely

                          i actually like the version at Kantin in the Super 88: never gloppy and not a "stew" but a soup.

                          1. re: tysonmcneely

                            I'm not an expert, but I also like the version at Peach Farm quite a bit.

                          2. I like the "China hot and sour" at FuLoon (a big bowl), though it may not be quite the taste you're looking for. (I'm also puzzled by the "general decline in quality" observation.)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Aromatherapy

                              I second this- don't get the regular hot and sour, make sure it's the "China Hot and Sour".

                            2. If you favor the Sichuan over the more Westernized style of hot and sour, the traditional Sichuan places generally do a nice job, little cornstarch, more cabbage and red-chili heat: the Sichuan Gourmets, the Sichuan Gardens, New Shanghai, Zoe's.

                              As several Hounds have noted, there's plenty of good Chinese food about: a little searching on this board or posting of other inquiries specific to your own tastes will get you lots of good pointers.


                              1. Thanks for all the suggestions ... I figured people would weigh in on this one. Maybe we'll do an "Egg Drop Soup" topic some day.

                                1. While not at all authentic or traditional, I've been known to drive from Cambridge to Stoughton to hit Chinatown and stock up on their Hot and Sour Won Ton Soup, which is also known as the best cold remedy ever in my house. Not at all authentic but mighty tasty IMHO.

                                  1. Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica makes a delicious hot & sour soup. There's also a version with wontons.

                                    1. "For years, my family has lamented to general decline in quality of chinese food and the corallary rise in other types of Asian food."

                                      I would beg to differ. Over the past 20 years Boston has risen to have some of the best Chinese food in North America including, but not at all limited to:

                                      Shangri la
                                      Best Little Rest.
                                      Shanghai Gate
                                      New Shanghai
                                      Jo Jo Taipei
                                      Beijing Star
                                      Peach Farm
                                      Winsor Dim Sum
                                      Just to name a few, if I really tried I could EASILY double the list.
                                      etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        Completely agree with you, StriperGuy! When I was a kid growing up here (more than 20 years ago!), my parents used to search high and low for an authentic place to eat Chinese food . . . it was hard, and we drove all over the place to get a fix. Now, there are so many choices, it's fun to try bits from each and *try* to decide what we like best.


                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          Yes and no. Boston is so much better than it was 20 years ago and I enjoy the restaurants you mention. However, what Boston lacks are the real high end quality restaurants that one can find in Vancouver (Richmond), Toronto (Markham) or LA (Monterey Park). Hong Kong and Taiwanese expats rely on such places and demand and are willing to pay for excellence. Also, we lack the excellent snack food, noodle shops, dumpling houses etc. that depend on high turnover. We just don't have size of ethnic population here to make these ventures successful.

                                          1. re: gourmaniac

                                            Heck we don't live in Singapore, Beijing or Shanghai either ;-).

                                            But the fact that inky binky Boston can give NYC a run for the money for Chinese food is pretty impressive.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              I would agree with that though i haven't tried the chinese places in Queens. That says more to me about NYC than other places in North America. New York seems to be more excited these days about fusion places (Momofuku).

                                              1. re: gourmaniac

                                                Yes, Boston does lack on both the high- and low-ends . . . you're right - we don't have the population to support the whole gamut of Chinese cuisine. So that's why when we travel, we seek out what we can't get here elsewhere. But the point here is that where Boston is now is SUCH an improvement, and that, comparing apples to apples, Boston is now a competitor with other major North American cities. If you want to start a thread about where the best Chinese food is, we could have a talk about China - somewhere we get only once every few years. So for now, I'll settle for that list that Striper Guy made and be quite content. : )


                                        2. I grew up on the hot and sour soup my mom made from Joyce Chen's cookbook. It was a brown base with chunks of pork, tofu, lily stems, wood ears, egg drop, etc. Loved it! (Still do!) :) It was a family mecca when we took a trip to Boston from CT and actually got to enjoy it in person at JC's old restaurant!

                                          So whether others consider that good or authentic, I don't know. But for me, that has always been the standard! The closest I have found to that has been at the Lotus Cuisine restaurants. I usually go to the Lotus Flower in Framingham or Lotus Blossom in Sudbury. Not only because I am addicted to their soup, but as both have consistently offered stellar service. I typically will go sit at the bar and order a double order with rice, to make as my meal and get my fill! (Plus leave with a large order for take out). :) I unfortunately try to avoid Chang Sho, since they have consistently been so rude to me the dozen or so times I have attempted to go there.

                                          Many places I find now have a more reddish sweet soup with kind of a bbq flavor as their hot and sour soup? I am not as fond as that.

                                          So if anyone else knows of the type of style I am referring to and can offer more recommendations, I would love to hear it, as hot and sour soup is one of my favorite foods!!

                                          Thanks, and thanks for the thread!

                                          1. I eat in Chinatown every week and try the hot and sour nearly every time. Here are some of my favorites: Winsor Dim Sum, Pearl Villa, Peach Farm, Asian Garden.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: TheScribe

                                              Just came back from Chau Chow City on Essex St. and their hot and sour is unbelievably good. Lots of stuff in it, great flavor.

                                            2. Certainly isn't going to help the OP, but I thought the best hot and sour soup in Boston was at the long-gone Mandarin in Central Square (it is now the All-Asia Cafe, which isn't really a restaurant but a nightclub). Everything else there was somewhat meh, but that soup was glorious. Coincidentally, The Mandarin in Hong Kong (Man Wah Restaurant) serves a hot and sour soup that is similar and just as good, but twice as expensive.

                                              1. Great long list by StriperGuy - I guess just to clarify (not that anyone cares) but I lived in Brookline for 6 years (and now in W. Roxbury) and I always thought it was amazing how awful some of the chinese places were in Brookline despite being so close to Boston.

                                                My family used to dine and take out from Shanghai Village in Arlington Ctr which has completely gone downhill.

                                                About 10 years ago Best of Boston told me to go Chau Chau city which was the "best" chinese food in boston and I have not been back to a chinatown restaurant since.

                                                Clearly I should take StriperGuy up his ample list of suggestions.

                                                Again, thanks for the responses.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: jogo7375

                                                  Again, that is an off the cuff list of 1/2 the places I can think of. Not all in Chinatown by any stretch. There are several good places in the Allston (former Super88) food court that I did not even mention.

                                                  And anything Boston Magazine says is "Best Of" is automatically suspect. Heck in Brookline there is Szechuan Village.

                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                    Fuloon is Best of Boston Chinese 2009.

                                                    1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                                      Maybe they have wised up and started reading chowhound.

                                                2. I must unveil Thai Moon in Arlington - they serve a spicy, earthy rich hot & sour soup called Tom Yum. It is the cure for the common cold..

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hounda

                                                    Nice to hear that Thai Moon makes a good Tom Yum, very different from Chinese hot and sour however.

                                                  2. China Sky in Wellesley and Winchester makes a really nice Hot and Sour Soup. I am craving it so badly today. Sichaun Garden's version is excellent too, very hot.

                                                    1. Mary Chung's in Central Square is delicious if you like hot - a little too hot for my taste buds, but might be right up your alley.

                                                      PF Chang's gets dissed a lot on this board and I understand why, but I love their hot and sour soup - perfect gloppy texture and lots of pork, tofu and mushrooms.