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Brunch and Specials at Wang's in Somerville

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Wang's is a hole-in-the-wall but superlative Northern-style Chinese restaurant in Somerville. They are normally only open in the evening (but stay open until 1 AM every night), but on weekends they are open from 11:30 AM on weekends. I went there with a few friends for brunch on Saturday.

Wang's has excellent dou4 jiang1 (Soybean Milk), which is slightly curded and slightly sweet. It's a bit sharper than the version at Chung Shin Yuan, but it doesn't have the unpleasant aftertaste that dou4 jiang1 sometimes has. Served cold or hot.

A very breakfasty dish is xian2 shao1 bing3 (Salt Flour Pie), a very simple sesame crusted cake. Wang's version is simply perfection. The apotheosis of shaobing.

Normally I get the su4 jiu3 cai4 shui3 jiao3 (Vegetarian Leek Dumpling), but yesterday we tried the su4 qing1 gang3 cai4 shui3 jiao3 (Chinese Vegetables Dumpling). They were good, but the leek dumplings are better. For the vegans among you though (or if you don't like leek!), the latter don't have any egg in them. Wang's dumplings are probably the best in Boston; only Qingdao Garden gives them any competition.

Since it was breakfast, I really felt like eggs, and the huang2 gua chao3 dan4 (Stir fry Cucumber with Scrambled Egg) hit the spot. The scrambled eggs are excellent, and the cucumber goes well with them. The only thing I would have changed about this dish would have been to drain the water (from the cucumber) before serving. It pairs well with the spicy la4 jiang4 (chili paste) that's always on the table.

My friends from Shanghai love the ban3 li4 shao1 wu3 hua1 rou4 (Fatty Pork with Chestnut). I don't eat pork, but I did sin a little by picking out the chestnuts from this dish. The broccoli that rings the meat . . . not so much. The chestnuts are delicious, and if I ate pork, I would eat that pork.

My only complaint about Wang's is that their cong1 you2 bing3 (scallion pancakes) used to be the very best in the Boston area, but today they are only merely quite good. Although competition has heated up (notably Jo Jo Taipei and Fuloon) Wang's slippage is because they changed their recipe somehow and fry them differently, loosing the perfect texture. I think the new oil is to blame.

You may have also noticed the specials white-board. It hasn't changed for a while, and here's my best go at transcribing, transliterating and translating:

芝麻鱼柳 -- zhi1 ma yu2 liu3 -- fish sticks with sesame
孜然羊肉 -- zi1 ran2 yang2 rou4 -- cumin lamb
孜然猪肉 -- zi1 ran2 zhu1 rou4 -- cumin pork
清炒大虾仁 -- qing1 chao3 da4 xia1 ren2 -- stir fried jumbo shrimp
炒锅川丸子 -- chao3 guo1 chuan1 wan2 zi -- stir fried spicy meat balls
酸菜川白肉 -- suan1 cai4 chuan1 bai2 rou4 -- pickled vegetables with spicy fatty pork
炒锅豆腐?? -- chao3 guo1 dou4 fu ?? -- stir fried tofu ??
炒锅排骨 -- chao3 guo1 pai2 gu3 -- stir fried spareribs
中?回锅肉 -- zhong1 ? hui2 guo1 rou4 -- twice cooked pork
重庆辣子鸡丁 -- Chong2 qing4 la4 zi ji1 ding1 -- Chongqing spicy chicken
西红柿炒鱼 -- xi1 hong2 shi4 chao3 yu2 -- stir fried fish with tomato
??西红柿 -- ?? xi1 hong2 shi4 -- ?? tomato
西红柿鱼汤 -- xi1 hong2 shi4 yu2 tang1 -- tomato and fish soup
茴香猪肉水饺 -- hui2 xiang1 zhu1 rou4 shui3 jiao3 -- pork and fennel dumplings

If anyone can help fill in the couple gaps above, I'd appreciate it!

Their cumin lamb is quite terrific. I keep meaning to try this Chongqing spicy chicken, but their chuan1 wei4 la4 zi ji1 (bone-in szechuan spicy chicken) from the printed menu is so good and I keep forgetting about this special.

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Wang's Fast Food
509 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145

 
 
 
 
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  1. That's great! Thanks for the reminder that Wang's does serious Chinese. I used to live relatively close by and had it in the rotation, but haven't been in years. The cumin lamb reminds me of another long gone restaurant. It was on East Berkley in the South End. @Washington? @Harrison? I'm having trouble picturing where it was but remember it as a real chowhoundy spot many years ago. First exposure for me for these sort of Northern dishes you speak of.

    1. Their use of broccoli is weird. You get the same bland ring of steamed florets with the braised pork shank too.

      1. Whoops, I made a couple mistakes in transcribing the specials menu, but I think I did it all correctly now:

        芝麻鱼柳 -- zhi1 ma yu2 liu3 -- fish sticks with sesame
        孜然羊肉 -- zi1 ran2 yang2 rou4 -- cumin lamb
        孜然猪肉 -- zi1 ran2 zhu1 rou4 -- cumin pork
        清炒大虾仁 -- qing1 chao3 da4 xia1 ren2 -- stir fried shrimp
        砂锅川丸子 -- sha1 guo1 chuan1 wan2 zi -- clay pot spicy meat balls
        酸菜川白肉 -- suan1 cai4 chuan1 bai2 rou4 -- pickled vegetables with spicy fatty pork
        砂锅豆腐堡 -- sha1 guo1 dou4 fu bao3 -- clay pot tofu stew
        砂锅排骨 -- sha1 guo1 pai2 gu3 -- clay pot spareribs
        中式回锅肉 -- zhong1 shi4 hui2 guo1 rou4 -- Chinese-style twice cooked pork
        重庆辣子鸡丁 -- Chong2 qing4 la4 zi ji1 ding1 -- Chongqing spicy chicken
        西红柿炒鱼 -- xi1 hong2 shi4 chao3 yu2 -- stir fried fish with tomato
        涼拌西红柿 -- liang2 ban4 xi1 hong2 shi4 -- cold tomato
        西红柿鱼汤 -- xi1 hong2 shi4 yu2 tang1 -- tomato and fish soup
        茴香猪肉水饺 -- hui2 xiang1 zhu1 rou4 shui3 jiao3 -- pork and fennel dumpling

        2 Replies
          1. re: lipoff

            Are the "cold tomatoes" prepared in the traditional Northern style ? ;)

            In all seriousness, many thanks for the effort you've undertaken. I will be sure to check these specials out and bring back some additional datapoints.