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Why no good Chinese Cuisine west? 帮助

EATTV Mar 28, 2011 08:12 AM

Had a sad take out experience from a former Chinatown Chef now in Wellesley. HIs food was once as good as any of the better Mandarin or Cantonese kitchens downtown. Last night every dish was lacking both in taste and technique. I get the western morph on Chinese food but can anyone vouch for a place west of the city? Although I know we have fairly few tremendous Sino supperettes round The Hub compared to Outer Boroughs, Toronto or SF but when I can cook better than the local restaurants something has gone terribly wrong. I like Taiwan Cafe, Fuloon, Szechuan Gourmet and some Dim Sum. Never had Bejing Star or Chung Shin Yuan. Very excited about getting a big party to Quick Pic. Still, what about the regular thing. 帮助

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  1. j
    JoJo5 Mar 28, 2011 08:32 AM

    Not sure how far west you're considering, but in Belmont, there's Shangri-La and Golden Garden. In Framingham, there's Uncle Cheung's. Search for them on this board for recommendations.

    Joanne

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    Shangri-La
    149 Belmont St, Belmont, MA 02478

    Uncle Cheung's Restaurant
    266 Worcester Rd, Framingham, MA 01702

    Golden Garden
    63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

    3 Replies
    1. re: JoJo5
      EATTV Mar 28, 2011 12:42 PM

      I have not tried these three. How are their noodles and dumplings?

      1. re: EATTV
        l
        lc02139 Mar 28, 2011 01:25 PM

        If Belmont is west enough, Golden garden has wonderful dumplings as well as the newly reopened Quingdao in North cambridge. I haven't been in a while but thought Lotus blossom in Sudbury was okay.
        What do you consider West?? I really like Sichuan Gourmet and Garden. Gourmet has a new branch out in Sharon which is out side 128. Alices taste of Mandarin in Sharon is also good.

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        Sichuan Gourmet
        1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

      2. re: JoJo5
        i
        Isolda Mar 28, 2011 03:46 PM

        We love Uncle Cheung's. I really appreciate their green menu, which has all the non-Americanized stuff, like pea shoots. I had never had Shangainese food until I tried that place.

        -----
        Uncle Cheung's Restaurant
        266 Worcester Rd, Framingham, MA 01702

      3. nsenada Mar 28, 2011 09:53 AM

        Of course, there's the Sichuan Gourmet in Framingham, and I like Green Tea in Newton (though it's not very "west.")

        9 Replies
        1. re: nsenada
          EATTV Mar 28, 2011 01:03 PM

          This thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/450724 is very entertaining. I've never tried Shanghai Gate in Allston but it looks promising. How about something closer to Needham which boasts a dearth of good Chinese food.

          -----
          Shanghai Gate
          204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

          1. re: EATTV
            g
            Gordough Mar 28, 2011 01:09 PM

            Jumbo Seafood in Newton Centre is not terrible. Certainly far better than CK Shanghai in my opinion. But you are just not going to find that many quality Chinese restaurants in the western suburbs just like you are more likely to find better options for nearly all types of food in and near Boston as opposed to further outside the city. There are a few exceptions but probably not if you are limiting your search to something close to Needham.

            1. re: Gordough
              EATTV Mar 28, 2011 01:18 PM

              Such has been my experience. Wouldn't it be great to poll the CH community and ask about the 100 best Chinese dishes, hire a great young Chef and open in a funky space out here in the wasteland. I would probably call it "Cold Tea" / 凉茶, the old Moon Villa after hours euphemism.

              1. re: Gordough
                nsenada Mar 28, 2011 01:45 PM

                Green Tea is not far from Needham (and being a Needhamite, it's the closest decent spot). I actually don't mind Dragon Chef for greasy, late night drunk Chinese food. I have had some very good, shockingly greaseless scallion pancakes there. I don't like New Garden, seems to just be a place to get wasted. I occasionally hit Mandarin Cuisine with larger crowds if we've decided to go somehwere nearby at a time when getting a table elsewhere will be an issue. The owners are really nice people.

                There it is...a tour of Needham's Chinese restaurants. Bask in the glory...

                -----
                Green Tea Restaurant
                2 Beacon St, Framingham, MA 01701

                New Garden Restaurant
                250 Chestnut St, Needham, MA 02492

                Mandarin Cuisine
                238 Highland Ave, Needham, MA 02494

              2. re: EATTV
                barleywino Mar 28, 2011 01:46 PM

                Closer to Needham, I guess there's Bernards in the Chestnut Hill mall, slightly suburbanized but generally decent. Some have said good things about Joyful Garden in Allston but haven't checked it out yet. If you like Taiwan cafe, you should try Jo Jo Taipei in Allston (which I prefer over Shangri La or Uncle Cheungs).

                -----
                Joyful Garden
                1234 Soldiers Field Rd, Boston, MA 02135

                JoJo Tai Pei Restaurant
                103 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                1. re: barleywino
                  justbeingpolite Mar 28, 2011 01:58 PM

                  Anyone been to Formosa Taipei in Lexington recently? They were originally a Jo Jo tai pei diaspora. They had an outpost in Nashua as well, but I heard it was shut down recently, and lost their Jo Jo taipei chef in a dispute with ownership.

                  All rumors, of course. Anyone know for sure?

                  -----
                  Formosa Taipei
                  315 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA 02421

                  1. re: justbeingpolite
                    tatsu Mar 30, 2011 05:21 AM

                    Yes, the food isn't exactly the same but things are still very good. Lately they introduced "vegan chicken" dishes which is wheat gluten and seems house-made. Perfect texture and my DC who tried the 3 cup version was pretty amazed it wasn't chicken. This is as good as some of the vegetarian/vegan Chinese places I've tried in NYC.

                    I'm not sure what happened but they had several chefs, but I haven't seen Steve, one of the owners, in quite some time. The woman who I usually see up front seems a bit coy but I'm going to get the story sooner or later.

                    1. re: justbeingpolite
                      tatsu Mar 30, 2011 05:25 AM

                      Nashua is definitely gone, they sold it, I can confirm that for sure. They put up a couple of folding tables in so eating in is a bit more of an option.

                      Some of the dishes that perhaps came down a notch: Spicy Beef Noodle Soup, XLB, both the steamed and pan-fried editions. I still reco the pan-fried one since it's rather unique in this area. Like I said, I still give FT the thumbs up and recently took a Taiwanese native there who enjoyed it very much.

                      1. re: tatsu
                        h
                        hargau Mar 30, 2011 06:53 AM

                        Sad about Nashua, i liked that place a lot. Not surprising though, its a horrible location and every time i was there the place was mostly empty.

              3. c
                cherrytomato Mar 28, 2011 02:04 PM

                China Sky and Bernards are my favorite. While they are more expensive than most Chinese restaurants the quality makes up for it. I don't think Needham has good Chinese restaurants. I did like Joy Luck in Needham but now it is Rice Barn which I have not tried yet. You would think Newton would have good Chinese food but it does not. I cannot think of one place in Newton not including Bernards that is that good.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cherrytomato
                  i
                  Isolda Mar 28, 2011 03:43 PM

                  We have eaten at Rice Barn several times. It's not really Chinese, more like Asian fusion. It's fresh, but not very interesting, and it can be quite bland. What I love about the place is their mango sticky rice, which is one of my favorite desserts, and is very well done there.

                  -----
                  Rice Barn
                  1037 Great Plain Ave, Needham, MA 02492

                2. c
                  cambridgedoctpr Mar 30, 2011 02:16 PM

                  i go to CK Shanghai in Wellesley. I speak to the chef who makes special dishes for me. Of course, no one else seems to get good food other than Scotty who also knows him personally. Still, even my friends and partners from NYC are impressed with the quality though no one else seems to duplicate my experience.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                    barleywino Mar 30, 2011 03:48 PM

                    sounds like that's where the OP went?

                    1. re: barleywino
                      c
                      cambridgedoctpr Mar 30, 2011 04:14 PM

                      yes, the difference between what people are getting and what he can give is great. the menu is generally to be avoided.

                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                        EATTV Mar 30, 2011 05:35 PM

                        I'm going to heal myself with a suckling pig dinner for 5 at Quick Pic next week and lunch tomorrow at Shanghai Gate. (I will speak to the Chef)

                        1. re: EATTV
                          barleywino Mar 30, 2011 05:55 PM

                          Please report back on the pig! Thanks

                          1. re: EATTV
                            Nab Mar 30, 2011 05:58 PM

                            Nice. I gotta get back to the Gates of Shanghai myself. Order some lion's balls. The chef's special menu is great, but also many worthwhile things on the regular menu. I'm sure you've seen this thread by now. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/600051 barleywino turned me onto the fish tail in brown sauce, which i think about often. Heck, you'd think they got a mamaw from Mississipi in the kitchen back there, their gravies got soul. Both the brown and the white gravies are luscious. Have fun. Eat the whole menu.

                            http://shanghaigateboston.com/menu.htm

                            1. re: Nab
                              EATTV Apr 2, 2011 01:08 PM

                              Shanghai Gate's take out menu quotes a Globe review,"What you get at Shanghai Gate plain and simple is a chef who really knows how to cook". Fair enough. It was soulful and flavors were right. I am restored...but not wowed. The restaurant was indeed full of asian dinners, always a good sign. I liked what I was seeing on other tables. Service was prompt and cheerful. I had studied the menu. My companion required "foods from her childhood" meaning recognizable. There were spring rolls. Shanghai pan fried noodles had the high heat breath of the wok. The noodles had just the right bite. Rice cakes sauteed with pork and leek had a soulful depth and elegant presentation. Pork Belly and Tofu Skins, a sort of brown sauce dong po rou with bean curd ribbons tied in knots was served with tender baby bok choy. It was a savory big bacon meets braising wicked and fattylicious almost custard like guilty pleasure. Also notable were yóu tiáo (twin tubular crullers) Lions Heads casseroles and Sweet corn pancakes as well as Ma Po Fish a dish I really love where fish and tofu bob about in orange Sichuan oil cracked peppercorn glory. One low note were the well reviewed soup dumplings. I recognized them as a frozen variety that lives in the far back of my freezer. Xia long bao are my favorite dumplings and these I just didn't get. If the high maintenance buns are too much to make then I think perhaps bao out. This aside it was all water to one great huge thirst.
                              Next stop is Quick Pic for the 10lb suckling pig supper and some excellent nose to tail eating. (Not today: NCAA)

                              -----
                              Shanghai Gate
                              204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                               
                               
                               
                               
                    2. KWagle Mar 30, 2011 04:59 PM

                      The Waltham outpost of Mu Lan now has a grand opening sign in the window and people setting up table settings, when I drove by around 7. I don't think they're actually open yet, but they will be soon.

                      1. sheila Mar 31, 2011 06:56 AM

                        You already know where the "relatively" good Chinese restaurants are in the west of Boston. The only place I encourage you to try is Beijing Star in Waltham for their basic but "hit the spot" hand cut noodle. I think they are pretty close to what we can get in China.

                        -----
                        Beijing Star Restaurant
                        835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sheila
                          StriperGuy Mar 31, 2011 07:00 AM

                          Beijing Star is sadly closed.

                          It is now Mulan Waltham.

                          -----
                          Beijing Star Restaurant
                          835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                          1. re: StriperGuy
                            sheila Apr 1, 2011 06:39 AM

                            Oh no. Should have gone there more often to help their business.

                            1. re: sheila
                              EATTV Apr 1, 2011 09:54 AM

                              Sad I missed the Beijing Star. Was on my list. Will the new Mulan keep any of their recipes?

                              -----
                              Beijing Star Restaurant
                              835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                        2. m
                          myladyfae Apr 1, 2011 06:49 AM

                          I have to say that I think the Sichuan Garden in Woburn is FAR superior to their Brookline outpost. Excellent soup dumplings and shredded tea smoked duck. Bonus that it is A, in a 15th century mansion, still cut up into tiny rooms so you feel like it's a private dining experience and B, they have a bizarrely good young bartender there that is making craft cocktails for dirt cheap!

                          EDIT: darn chinese places and their similar sounding names! I meant Sichuan Garden, not Gourmet :)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: myladyfae
                            Allstonian Apr 1, 2011 07:12 AM

                            I think you mean an 18th century mansion - I don't know of any architecture in the northeast, mansions or otherwise, that goes back to the 14oos!

                            1. re: Allstonian
                              m
                              myladyfae Apr 1, 2011 07:55 AM

                              No, not 18th.

                              I believe it was built in 1661, so I guess I subtracted 1 instead of added. That'd make it 17th I guess.

                              1. re: myladyfae
                                Allstonian Apr 1, 2011 08:15 AM

                                Interesting building history - the first homestead was in fact built in 1643, but that was a one-room house, expanded in 1661 into a 2-story salt-box (typical New England house of that period.) It was expanded further, and much remodeled (into its current style and form) in 1803. So in fact the mansion in its current form should probably be considered 18th or early 19th century.

                                There's a nice history of the Baldwin family and the mansion here, including an illuminating series of drawings illustrating the evolution of the building from the original single room to its present form: http://www.middlesexcanal.org/towpath...

                          2. c
                            cherrytomato Apr 13, 2011 03:03 PM

                            Had some of the worst chinese food I have ever had today. Jumbo seafood in newton centre. Shrimp lo mein was so dry with not an ounce of flavor. Orange beef was without a doubt the worst meat I have ever been served. In edible and not even able to cut through it. I would not let my dog have a piece because I was scared he would choke. Hot and sour soup was not hot or sour. The quality of the food was poor. What happened to this place? Why was it so bad?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: cherrytomato
                              g
                              Gordough Apr 13, 2011 04:03 PM

                              Yikes. I admittedly have not been in about 1-2 years but prior to that we dined there quite a bit. There shrimp was always very good. Never tried their beef or soups. We usually stuck to the seafood but it sounds like your shrimp was awful. Thanks for the report.

                            2. n
                              noodlechef Apr 13, 2011 07:54 PM

                              We like the new Mulan in Waltham so far. On our first visit, we ordered a few of the "must try" dishes, which seem to be mostly Taiwanese. The tofu with dry bean sauce was great.. The second time, my husband chose what I think of as "white person" dishes: orange chicken, kung pao shrimp, which were not as good. The Taiwanese dishes were really worth trying.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: noodlechef
                                EATTV Apr 14, 2011 06:00 AM

                                NC
                                I will return to Mulan even though the rice cakes were super chewy. The owner/hostess was quite congenial and service was attentive. It was week 1 after all.

                                Tried a local joint with "New" in the name last night. Very sad. All bad. Why can't American Chinese restaurants turn out good dumplings. Fundamental one would think and last night very "Old". (The noodles were the worst of all)

                              2. y
                                yummieeee Apr 14, 2011 07:22 AM

                                sichuan gourmet in framingham is wonderful. Never had a bad meal. Tried the dinner buffet at lotus flower in framingham last Saturday it was good. They had all the usual stuff. They also had mussels in a cream sauce. They had bbq fish. They had scallops. My favorite was the shrimp in garlic sauce. They had very good steamed dumplings. I'm not a buffet guy and i was dragged here against my will. I'm glad i went.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: yummieeee
                                  h
                                  hargau Apr 14, 2011 08:25 AM

                                  try it on a sunday for the brunch/dimsum buffet.

                                  1. re: yummieeee
                                    tatsu Apr 14, 2011 08:43 AM

                                    I finally got to Sichuan Garden in woburn. quite honestly i prefer their Jin Gu (which is pronounced more like "shwee ju", waiter had NO idea what I was talking about, but it's #47 on the menu ha ha) over Sichuan Gourmet's. The bowl may not be as big and it's not a fiery bright red sauce, but it's more subtle and more flavorful.

                                    I like Sichuan Garden in Brookline Village too, but it's been years since I've visited. That was my intro to Jin Gu, and it was a bit rough the first time in, I have to admit.

                                    S. Gourmet gets all the praise, but Garden is fine too. I would choose Red Pepper (Framingham) or Garden (Woburn) over Gourmet in Framingham personally. But they are all very close in quality to each other.

                                    -----
                                    Sichuan Garden
                                    295 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

                                    Red Pepper
                                    122 White St, Haverhill, MA 01830

                                    Sichuan Gourmet
                                    1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                    1. re: tatsu
                                      brandywiner Apr 14, 2011 08:40 PM

                                      Haven't tried Red Pepper, but I agree that Gourmet & Garden are definitely in the same ballpark. I've never been to the Brookline location of either, but I've been a happy camper anytime I've gone to Gourmet (Framingham or Billerica) or Garden (Woburn). If you want ambience, Gourmet in the old Baldwin's mansion blows everything else away, but the food is wonderful at all three.

                                      1. re: brandywiner
                                        h
                                        hargau Apr 15, 2011 10:05 AM

                                        I have been to red pepper a few times and i do not think the food is as good as at gourmet or garden. Last time was just 2 weeks ago, ended up throwing out all the leftovers as nobody wanted to eat them. The service is some of the worst i have got anywhere and the room is like being in someones poorly refinished basement. To each their own..

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