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Nov 20, 2010 10:17 AM

Chinatown trip: where to buy frozen peeled taro, best roasted ducks, freshest greens, frozen dumplings, etc.?

I need to take two of my kids into NEMC for some appointments Monday. Since I'm going to get validated parking due to the appointments, I figure might as well make the most of the trip and eat some dim sum and pick up some groceries/prepped food while we're there. I don't go to Chinatown often and will have two kids in tow, so would like to just beeline it to all the right places rather than aimlessly browsing different shops. I need a little advice for a few items:

-is there anywhere I can buy already peeled and cut up taro that's been frozen (yes, I'm lazy, and don't mind paying more to have some work done for me). I've seen whole taro at Whole Paycheque but it's exhorbitant. The roast duck is for me to attempt a duck and taro hot pot (lai wu gnap bo) at home, in case that would matter for the answer.

-have you ever frozen Asian greens (baby bok choys in particular, but also things like gailan and pea shoots), and how were they when cooked and thawed? I've been unhappy with the baby bok choys at Russo's lately, and the chowpups keep asking for it. If I find nice fresh ones, could they be frozen at their peak and used later? In that case, I would try to clear some space in my freezer.

-any places sell good hand made frozen dumplings? I live near Golden Garden, and any friends who I've introduced to their dumplings have loved them. Are there any that are comparable quality worth a try? I've been asked to bring dumplings for a potluck thanksgiving with friends, so they can't be mediocre.

-best "joong" (sorry, my best approximation of how it's said in Cantonese)? Those rice/meat/bean/peanut stuffed lotus leaves that can be frozen and make great "emergency lunches"

-DS2 wants to know who's got the best lai wong bao in case anyone has an opinion

I think we've already decided we'll eat at Great Taste for dim sum, but could be swayed if anyone's had any stellar experiences anywhere else recently. Thanks in advance for your advice.

Great Taste
201 Main St, Milford, MA 01757

Golden Garden
63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

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  1. If you freeze bok choy or pea shoots you will get something very limp when you defrost it. Think about frozen whole-leaf spinach and you will get the picture.

    If I remember my few words of Cantonese correctly, gailan is Chinese broccoli. That might stand up a little better in the freezer, but still it will not have the delightful al dente toothsomeness one would expect from a well-executed stir-fry.

    1. don't know about "best" but I would get frozen dumplings at Mulan in Cambridge (on a Monday finding a spot in their parking lot shouldn't be a problem) and joong and duck at Hong Kong Eatery...dimsum at Winsor

      5 Replies
      1. re: barleywino

        HK Eatery has joong? I've never seen joong for sale at any of the restaurants here. The only joong (zong zi in mandarin) I eat is the ones my family or family friends make themselves.

        If you're doing take out roast duck, I prefer the duck at the old Mei Dong roast meats store that's by Hei La Moon. I don't know if that's the name of the store anymore, but you can't miss if if you head towards Hei La Moon.

        I haven't checked to see if there's pre-cut taro (I'd check the freezer cases at one of the bigger markets like C-Mart) but whole taro at Chinese markets is fairly inexpensive.

        I haven't personally tried freezing Asian greens, but I don't have high hopes that any of them would come out well. Maybe if you pre-cooked some of them first, they might be ok once thawed, but I have a feeling these veggies don't stand up well to the freezer, especially since many of the veggies tend to be favored for their stalks over the leafy parts for their crunch and texture.

        The only nai wong bao I've had is at the few dim sum joints, like China Pearl and Hei La Moon. While they are passable renditions, I don't think they're anything to write home about. You may be just as good buying the frozen kind from the markets that you can re-heat at home.

        Hei La Moon
        88 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

        China Pearl Restaurant
        288 Mishawum Rd, Woburn, MA 01801

        1. re: kobuta

          Right, HKE has joong usually on the counter just inside the door, although its not listed on their menu afaik. Maxim bakery (harrison/beach) also has them, but I don't recall which is better. I think I've also seen them in Hing shing bakery (by the arch). Maybe all made by the same people? Winsor has the steamed egg custard buns listed on the specials menu on each table, they seem popular (I haven't tried them elsewhere so can't say whether they are the "best" or not). For baby bok choy, have you tried the Super 88 (now Hong Kong) on brighton ave in allston? Doesn't have quite the selection of Cmart by hei la moon but at least their parking lot is free and the adjoining Dim Sum Chef is pretty decent (I go there for the sesame shrimp roll)

          1. re: barleywino

            Thanks, good to know. I've always been curious how other joong taste like, as the ingredients vary quite a bit depending on the hometown of the maker. I'll have to try some of the other kinds.

            1. re: kobuta

              ok-- the ones I've seen around here tend to be smaller ones, unlike ones i used to get in NY which were about the same width but twice as long, for some reason

        2. re: barleywino

          Thanks. My DH sometimes eats at Mulan with coworkers. If he takes a cooler to work, I think they'd survive the commute home.

          Hmmm...we'll see how the appointments go. We were debating whether to go to Great Taste or Winsor. Been to Great taste recently and it was good, been years since we were at Winsor so maybe time to revisit.

          Great Taste
          201 Main St, Milford, MA 01757

        3. I don't know if this is convenient for you at all, but Harvest in Central Sq. very often has really nice baby bok choy. Their produce in general is often less than stellar, but for whatever reason the baby bok choy is almost always really great.

          1 Reply
          1. re: maillard

            Thanks for the tip. I wouldn't have expected good bok choys there. My DH passes there on his way to work.