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Seeking good "bad" Chinese-American food in the inner western burbs (Belmont / Arlington / Lexington / Watertown / Waltham, maybe Cambridge and Somerville)

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So, I tried it, and Kowloon just does not satisfy my occasional cravings for good, "bad" Chinese-American food. This is the stuff I grew up eating in the '60s. It is NOT authentic. We are talking chicken fingers, egg rolls, egg foo yong with gloppy (but tasty) sauce, that sort of thing. My criteria for what makes it good is

- fried foods are not greasy, but should be nice and crispy. For things like chicken fingers, there should be enough batter to make a definite batter layer, but not too much.

- no western vegetables used (e.g. no celery or zucchini)

- the sauce that is part of a stir-fried item should not be some gloppy brown substance that is the same for everything at the restaurant. (There is an avoid-at-all-costs restaurant in my area, Yours, that does that. A cardinal sin.)

- When served the food should be hot and fresh. It may be inauthentic but it should be done well.

I used to sometimes get take out from the Tiki Inn near Watertown Square to satisfy this need, but have not gone there in several years after some disappointing experiences.

Suggestions, anyone?

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  1. Bamboo in Bedford or Westford
    China Sky in Winchester
    I've heard the Mandarin in Reading but not been

    -----
    China Sky
    27 Converse Pl, Winchester, MA 01890

    2 Replies
    1. re: justbeingpolite

      Mandarin in Reading is owned by the same people as Bamboo.

      There's also a Yangtze River in Littleton.
      Great Wall in Bedford
      Great Mandarin in Woburn

      -----
      The Great Mandarin Restaurant
      186 Cambridge Road, Woburn, MA 01801

      Yangtze River Restaurant
      584 King St, Littleton, MA 01460

      1. re: greygarious

        Yangtze River in Littleton is horrible. They are the kings of celery in everything too. For some reason the lexington location always has better food.

        I have not been in years but our go to place in Waltham for that sort of food used to always be Dragon Chef on moody st. It is takeout only.

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        Dragon Chef Restaurant
        411 Washington St, Brighton, MA 02135

        Yangtze River Restaurant
        584 King St, Littleton, MA 01460

    2. Wait, how can you have 60's Chinese American food without celery? I thought that was one of the essentials? At least it was where I grew up.

      13 Replies
      1. re: cpingenot

        Hehe, I don't remember celery being used in my old neighborhood. But I do have very fond memories of the pistachio ice cream served for desert at one of the two Chinese-American restaurants within a few blocks of my home (in a neighborhood where the Italian kids were still beating up the Jewish kids on account of events since addressed by John XXIII). Looking back, it was terrible ice cream - artificial color, no doubt artificial flavor, ice crystals - but it had cherries in it. (I have to reproduce this. Maybe this summer.)

        I suppose what is Chinese-American is regional. There was a great article in the NY Times a few years back about a midwestern (or was it Missouri?) version of chicken with cashews that is immensely popular, but nothing like what we would be served if we asked for it around here.

        1. re: PinchOfSalt

          I wonder if that ice cream was actually spumoni? I recall Braintree Five Corners, the epitome of 50's and 60's Chinese American food, serving it. Our favorite Chinese meal when I was a kid? Chicken wings, spare ribs (3 children, and my dad would order 2 orders each!) egg foo young, pork fried rice. And, bread and butter dipped in duck sauce.

          1. re: CookieLee

            My family would get wonton soup and egg roll instead of the spare ribs and chicken wings. Bread and butter was not part of the C-A menu in my old neighborhood. But we did get a bowl of crispy fried noodle bits - flat and blistered from frying - that were intended to go into whatever soup was ordered. They rarely made it that far. This is something I have NEVER seen in the Boston area. Has anyone noticed them?

            (Stop and Shop used to have an interesting variety of very regional foods until its most recent change of corporate hands... but that is another discussion...)

            Spumoni we got in the red-sauce Italian restaurant. This stuff was unique. I have never seen pistachio-cherry ice cream anywhere else, then or since.

            1. re: PinchOfSalt

              I know it's not in your area, but 10 days ago, Itook my daughter to the City Buffet, a Chinese buffet place in Derby, CT (She loves their clams and Sushi) and they had Pistachio/Cherry Ice Cream in the dessert freezer. I pulled out the Tub, but the only label was in Chinese. My daughter can read this and unfortunately it merely said ice cream and 3 gallons, no mfg info.

              1. re: bagelman01

                Holy cow, it (still) exists! The Chinese-language label thing is intriguing.

              2. re: PinchOfSalt

                I think the crispy noodle thing is a NY State/ NYC metro area thing. I travel to NJ for work about twice a year, and I love getting Chinese-American takeout there - it's exactly like what I remember from growing up in the NY suburbs. But, the C-A food there is very different than the C-A food here. I never even heard of crab rangoon until I moved to Boston.

                1. re: VintageMolly

                  I completely agree. My early years were spent in Brooklyn. There were no crab rangoons. Even though I have lived most of my life here, I still don't "get" crab rangoons!

                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                    I've pretty much given up on Chinese-American food in Boston, it just doesn't hit the spot well enough for me to get into it. I've also completely given up on pizza, but that's a whole other thread entirely.

                    I travel a lot for work, and one of my chain avoidance strategies it to hit the local chinese takeout joints. I've had Chinese-American food in rural parts of Indiana and Alabama that hits the spot better for me than anything I've had in Boston.

                    Jennifer 8. Lee's The Fortune Cookie Chronicles has a plausible explanation of why this is - she says most chinese restaurants in this country are staffed by an underground network based out of NY's Chinatown. The difference in the food in Boston and the food in parts of the country likely to be staffed by that network make me think that Boston isn't a part of this system. I could be wrong, just a hypothesis.

                2. re: PinchOfSalt

                  I think East Asia in Teele Sq. actually has the crispy fried noodles.

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

                  1. re: maillard

                    I agree fully with this - East Asia is amazing and has surprisingly great sushi

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                    East Asia Restaurant
                    868 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                  2. re: PinchOfSalt

                    Just for the record, I grew up eating those crispy fried noodles, intended to go into soup like croutons, in Louisville, KY. (In the 1990s, 2000s.) So it's not purely a New York regional dish.

                    1. re: PinchOfSalt

                      They serve crispy noodles at China Inn in Pawtucket, RI. Not exactly next door but if you're in the area. I haven't eaten there in 4 or 5 years. It used to be good but last I went it was pretty sad.

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                      China Inn Restaurant
                      285 Main St, Pawtucket, RI 02860

                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                        Tahiti on Route 1 in Dedham used to have those crispy flat noodles - and they would last all of about two seconds on the table. Used to love dipping them in duck sauce and mustard. That was about 40 years ago, though. I'm pretty sure the current incarnation shed the noodles with the awesome Polynesian decor probably in the 80s.

                3. Jade Garden in Arlington, Yangtze River in Lexington, the Chinese-American food at Qingdao Garden in Cambridge....

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                  Qingdao Garden Restaurant
                  2382 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

                  Yangtze River Restaurant
                  21 Depot Sq, Lexington, MA 02420

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: hiddenboston

                    I really like New Yummy Hut in Somerville. Awesome ribs and Scallion pancakes.

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                    Yummy Hut
                    217 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      Ill 2nd Jade Garden and add

                      Mary Chung in Central Square Cambridge

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                      Mary Chung Restaurant
                      460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                      1. re: Locutus

                        I'm guessing Mary Chung is closer in than they're looking for, but I really dig the place. I don't know that I'd call it "good bad chinese-american food" so much as "chinese-american food done right". Not sure how best to describe the difference, but the former category I think of stuff that I remember from my childhood, just not in a sucky way. Mary Chung OTOH seems to have similar dishes, just done in a much tastier way - for instance their general gau there is different than any I can remember ever having but it's quite tasty.

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                        Mary Chung Restaurant
                        460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        1. re: jgg13

                          I have eaten at Mary Chung's for years and years and years, spanning multiple physical locations. While many Hounds would say it is not authentic, it is definitely MORE authentic than anything I am thinking about for my bad Chinese American cravings satisfy-er.. Love the suans and the fried tofu with ginger sauce, though. Come to think of it, there was no tofu in those 1960's dishes, heh. There was no General Gao's on the menu either, but plenty of sweet-and-sour variations.

                          -----
                          Mary Chung Restaurant
                          460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                          1. re: PinchOfSalt

                            " it is definitely MORE authentic than anything I am thinking about for my bad Chinese American cravings"

                            That sums up the difference I was trying to describe pretty well.

                        2. re: Locutus

                          4rth Jade Garden. Love their food, I get take out from there delivered about once a month. Really like their hot and sour soup, chicken wings (big, meaty and not too greasy) and Amazing Chicken, which is delicious. Have never eaten there but have read on the board that there are a lot of Asian-American customers. Their egg foo yung is better than what I ate growing up in exactly the kind of places the OP described, real comfort food. The Peking raviolis are a little too tough and there's too much dough-to meat ratio for my taste. It might be the delivery trip, but I've ordered them fried and steamed - PF Chang's are much better.

                        3. re: hiddenboston

                          I've been dying to know more about Jade Garden. How about Three Gorges just over the line in Lexington? Or is that just bad bad?

                          -----
                          Three Gorges
                          211 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420

                          1. re: digga

                            I haven't been to Three Gorges, but went to one of the Chinese restaurants that was in that spot before it. THE PLACE WAS REALLY LOUD.

                            1. re: hiddenboston

                              for what it's worth, Three Gorges has no relation to New Asia which was the previous tennant :D

                              i just recommended it somewhere else in this thread actually though - its my go-to place since they have delicious delicious peking raviolis (crispy and flavorful without being drowned in grease) I also really like their tangerine shrimp - its not fried like you'd expect, but is stirfried with tangerines, tomatoes, and cucumbers

                              -----
                              New Asia Restaurant
                              326 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                              Three Gorges
                              211 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420

                          2. re: hiddenboston

                            My (many) Asian friends and neighbors in Lex won't touch the first two above w/ a 10 foot pole. Some have directed me to Asiana Bistro in Bedford, but you must order from the Chinese menu, not the general bad Chinese-American menu. When I went armed with my special Chinese menu, the waitress accusingly asked "Where you get this?" I answered, "From friends." All was ok.

                            -----
                            Asiana Bistro
                            200 Great Rd, Bedford, MA 01730

                          3. Changsho on Mass Ave in North Cambridge is really good! If you like a rummy Mai Tai, ask for the "Special" Mai Tai. The Peking Dumplings are very good. Smaller, not doughy and nicely seasoned pork filling - with excellent ginger sauce. The boneless spare ribs are also perfect - where some places serve a sticky pile of overcooked, stringy pork bites, these are succulent and perfectly glazed. My guilty pleasure are the fatty ones!!

                            -----
                            Changsho
                            1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Small Plates

                              2nd the Ho for this type of food. When dining in the food comes out fast and piping hot. Their lo mein is tops. 2nd the boneless spare ribs. Generals, Lotus Seed Chicken, Crab Rangoon, Spick String Beans, Chinese Eggplant. Everything is pretty good.

                              1. re: Gabatta

                                i'm intrigued (and really trying not to write what I'm laughing to myself about right now) ; what's a Spick String bean?

                              2. re: Small Plates

                                Definitely thumbs up for Restaurant Changsho. Great Gen. Tso, anything salt-and-pepper style... spareribs and rangoon are excellent. Tasty drinks (I like the Jade). Uniquely Chinese/American dishes like the Pineapple Shrimp (shrimp in a tropical mayonnaise sauce) that are right out of the Trader Vic stable. Lovely restaurant too.

                              3. I don't indulge in these kinds of guilty pleasures, but I'm curious to try Bernard's in the Chestnut Hill Mall. It's not a takeout joint however, I understand it's kind of classy.

                                Probably one the the New Asia's is just as good as any of these take-out emporiums.

                                Just about all of the "authentic" Chinese places have American-Chinese items. Extensive menus in fact, as previous hotly debated before over Robert Nadeau's Sichuan Gourmet review. Why not just order bad things from good places? Or are you too embarrassed, ha ha!

                                -----
                                New Asia Restaurant
                                326 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                Sichuan Gourmet
                                1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: tatsu

                                  Well, no, let's not revive that old debate, but for me the problem with ordering "bad" things from "good" places is that I expect to get a better version of what I want (whatever it may be) from a place that specializes in it. Practice makes perfect, plus, they will have tuned their recipes to customers who want just what I am craving at the time.

                                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                    Chang-An in Concord is probably better than Yangze River in Lexington, but that's getting out of your driving range.

                                    I admit, I ordered General Gau's Tofu at Formosa Taipei, a couple weeks ago. It was good, very soft silken tofu, expertly fried. What can I say? I'd trust them with Moo Goo Gai Pan or whatever you are jonesing for. I like making up orders at Chinese takeout places. Black Bean Sauce Chow Fun, for example.

                                    It's hard to imagine "bad specialists" putting a whole lotta love into Egg Foo Young, but maybe it's out there!

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

                                    1. re: tatsu

                                      One of the reasons we haven't been to Chang-An in years is we found it to be way overpriced for meh Am.Chinese. Remember that robins-egg blue house/restaurant in Acton near the train station? They used to do great things for the blink of an eye time they were around.

                                    2. re: PinchOfSalt

                                      I'm totally cringing at the thought but what about....PF Chang's?

                                      1. re: tatsu

                                        Xactly. (And for someone who doesn't indulge in this stuff, you sure do know a bit about it! ;-)

                                        But for this kind of thing, I'd go to Changsho because as the OP says, they actually want properly prepared food, even if it's inauthentic.

                                        Also out of the OP's desired geography, Billy Tse's does this kind of grub really well.

                                        -----
                                        Billy Tse's
                                        240 Commercial St Lbby 1, Boston, MA 02109

                                        Changsho
                                        1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                        1. re: tatsu

                                          PF Chang's oh dear!

                                          FWIW, really, I am seeking a place that is not too far from my home, somewhere I can go on the spur of the moment with a friend for an unfussy meal, or drop by to grab some take out when the gotta have hits. So far Jade Garden is leading the pack (decent proximity, definitely does the good bad C-A food thing) with Yummy Hut coming in second (LOVE the name, but Arlington is much easier for me than Somerville). But this discussion is fun and it is indeed so interesting to see "certain people" chiming in. Ha ha! Guess I am not alone in the occasional craving for the stuff.

                                          -----
                                          Yummy Hut
                                          217 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                          1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                            I have sent people to East Asia in Powderhouse Sq. for this sort of thing and they have been happy. It's been a while but I remember carefully prepared food. Can't speak to your craving, I grew up with no Chinese and that stuff has never called to me.

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

                                      2. re: tatsu

                                        With the qualification that it's been over five years since I last ate at a New Asia, they're certainly where I've gone to scratch this itch in the past. Any recent reports?

                                        Years ago, I would have told you to go to Quan's Kitchen on Comm Ave in Allston for good-bad C-A dishes, but they changed owners about five years ago and the elderly cook retired, and their quality level immediately plummeted. They're now bad-bad C-A, I'm afraid.

                                        -----
                                        New Asia Restaurant
                                        326 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                          Haha thanks, JO. Yeah, this kind of cooking might well find its experts in the cadre of older cooks who learned it back in the bad-old days.

                                          Personally, I have been leery of New Asia in its various branches. There was one in Belmont that was okay when it opened, but then was largely empty for years (for reasons that shall not be discussed here) before being seized. The bad rep of the Belmont location has influenced me to stay away from its other branches. I will be most interested to read responses to your question about it.

                                          -----
                                          New Asia
                                          93 Trapelo Rd, Belmont, MA 02478

                                          1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                            Good reason to be leery. I ate at the New Asia in Arlington right before it was shut down by the health dept 5 years ago (little did I know of all of their health violations!). I was 38 weeks pregnant, and after eating there my daughter decided that was her cue to exit - my water broke right after dinner. :-)

                                        2. re: tatsu

                                          if you go to Bernards, their shrimp dishes are good, and their "angel hair" pasta dishes. most things i've tried there (duck, ss crab, chilean sea bass, chow fun) are not bad. and they throw in some free crab rangoons ;)

                                        3. Su Chang in Peabody.

                                          1. Noodle Stix on Belmont St in Cambridge does OK

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Locutus

                                              They're my go to place for crappy chinese delivery - that's not so much a statement of their quality so much as a statement of my pathetic options, but they do an OK job. OTOH I've been told to never, ever actually go there in person if I would like to be able to eat their food.

                                            2. I recall a post on Joyful Garden (Days Inn on Soldiers Field Road). It praised the authentic Cantonese food but it may also do the C-A stuff well. I'm always tempted to try it but I work a block from CTown and prefer to try other cuisines when not at work.

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

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: gourmaniac

                                                I will attest to Joyful Garden, on both accounts. Their spare ribs are usually v. good. I don't like their duck sauce. We tried their Peking duck, and it wasn't nearly as good and plentiful as Chef Chang's was. Have to try the place on rte 9 in Brookline next.

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

                                              2. Also there is Suns Kitchen on Lowell St Arlington

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Locutus

                                                  I like Sun's, but there's no dining room there, if that's important.

                                                2. If you live near Yours in Belmont (I always wondered if they ever got actual paying customers! lol) then probably the closest fake chinese food place of quality is Three Gorges in Lexington. Their Peking raviolis are some of my absolute favorites. I also really *really* apreciate that if I ask them to go easy on either the grease or sauce, they not only do but are excited about it. It's just over the Arlington line, so not too far at all :)

                                                  There's also Tiki Inn in Arlington that I'd put firmly in the not too shabby criteria, as well as sichuan gourmet in Woburn.

                                                  -----
                                                  Three Gorges
                                                  211 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: myladyfae

                                                    Indeed, I can walk to Yours. However I don't. Many many years ago, when they first opened, they were actually kind of okay. They even had a few dishes I liked. But that was many many years ago.

                                                    Great Taste (or some similar name), also on Trapelo Road, is even closer to my home. Very nice people. That's where I go these days when The Craving hits, but really, every time I do that I wish I had a better alternative. Hence this thread.

                                                    I wonder if the Tiki Inn in Arlington has any connection to the Tiki Inn near Watertown Square that I used to like. It is just down the street from Barismo, a definite plus when considering whether I want to drive to get a meal.

                                                    -----
                                                    Great Taste
                                                    201 Main St, Milford, MA 01757

                                                    Barismo
                                                    169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                    1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                      I got the answer for you then. Sichuan's Garden on Waverly Oaks Road. I think it's Waltham or Belmont. It's pretty refined in it's tackiness, they even have a dinner buffet. My unadventurous friend from Ohio LOVES that place. Hilarious website. Totally totally unrelated to Sichuan Garden of Woburn and Brookline Village. It's "Sichuan's" not "Sichuan". Actually, they don't really have anything Sichuan.

                                                      I would think you'd like it. To me the food was completely uninspired but executed fine, to be honest. They have this White Seafood Hot and Sour Soup that is one of my favorite Chinese soups around. It's in this weird semi-industrial park, and it's huge inside, bigger than Changsho. I thought Changsho really dropped off over the years and is expensive, so I'd choose this place over that.

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

                                                      Changsho
                                                      1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                      1. re: tatsu

                                                        if you don't mind expensive and Brookline is in your geographic circle, Golden Temple has an excellent bar and, imo, high quality chinese american (or american chinese) food. They use organic meats, the seafood is very fresh, and the martinis are excellent. they make super spareribs and a darn good chop suey. Beware: it isn't cheap.

                                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                                          I recently went to Golden Temple for the second time and found it to be very bad. I liked it pretty well the first time, especially the general gao's chicken, but this time nothing was good and everything was expensive. Even the general gao's chicken was kind of gross. The sauce was over thickened to a sneezy consistency. We also got some sort of beef and onion dish (ordered beef udon, but that's not what we got) that was suuuper bland and an okay but nothing special green bean dish. I would definitely just go to a food court chinese place for chinese-american food next time rather than return to Golden Temple.

                                                          1. re: maillard

                                                            "The sauce was over thickened to a sneezy consistency"

                                                            Great line. Knew just what that sauce looked like!

                                                        2. re: tatsu

                                                          Ha, it's been a few years since I have tried Sichuan's Garden. I drive by frequently. It's been a few years since I tried it. My last impression was not bad but not especially good. But that, if memory serves, was the buffet. Certainly, with your recommendation, it is worth another taste.

                                                          -----
                                                          Sichuan's Garden
                                                          411 Waverley Oaks Rd, Waltham, MA 02452

                                                          1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                            Highly recommend Bamboo House in Wakefield(not related to other Bamboos). It is small, family run and really well cooked food. The fried shrimp, or what we call shrimp donuts are nice and crispy with good amount of batter and recognizable shrimp. Crab rangoon also really crispy and chive-a-llicious. Egg Fu Young is best around nice and browned with good balance and tasty sauce, although not gloopy. Your only problem may be the presence of celery and zucchini, however we ask for the veggies to be well done so the end up delicious and melt in your mouth in a very non-zucchini way. We love this place because everything is extremely fresh and well prepared with excellent flavors, but still old school. If you go once, they will remember your prefernces forever. If you stray from old school a bit, we love the salmon (pieces not filet) with the vegetables in an old fashioned white sauce. Its 8 bucks and change including 2 apps, or 6 without apps.

                                                        3. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                          The two used to be owned by the same 2 guys, but I'm not sure if that's still true - I feel like they sold the watertown one a few years ago. It's literally only a few doors down from Barismo. Also next door is a GREAT hole in the wall Thai place...I go in and get lotus flour coated shrimp while my hubby gets his super-fake on!

                                                          -----
                                                          Barismo
                                                          169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                      2. Changsho in Arlington. Very good crapy Chinese food. Just watch out if you get take out. Three times getting take out......Three times somthing was missing out of the order. They were good about giving the credit on it but with the 20 min. ride for me and my family it is a pain.

                                                        -----
                                                        Changsho
                                                        1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: josephlapusata

                                                          Changsho is in Cambridge, not Arlington. It is just south or Porter Square on Mass Ave, so it can take awhile from Arlington depending on the time and traffic.

                                                          Just another data point, but we have gotten their takeout over a dozen times and never had anything missing or incorrect.

                                                          -----
                                                          Changsho
                                                          1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                        2. I had always loved Lily's Kitchen in Waltham for chinese american takeout- my fave dinner combo was the shrimp with mixed vegetables with rice and chicken wings. The owner's kids (or who I assume are their kids) are sometimes in there coloring or doing homework...reminds me of my childhood days when I hung out in my parents' chinese american restaurant after school.

                                                          -----
                                                          Lily's Kitchen
                                                          70 River St, Waltham, MA 02453

                                                          1. Two places a little more North-ish:

                                                            Imperial Jade Garden in Wakefield. The Mandarin Reading... in Reading.

                                                            The first is a hole in the wall near the T train stop. Very short on atmosphere but great for old school good "bad" food. The second is a little more upscale but still does "bad chinese" rather well...

                                                            -----
                                                            Mandarin Reading Restaurant
                                                            296 Salem St, Reading, MA 01867

                                                            Imperial Jade Gardens Restaurant
                                                            39 Tuttle St, Wakefield, MA 01880

                                                            1. So far nobody has mentioned Shangri-la, on Belmont St. in Belmont. Is it too authentic?

                                                              Maybe you can't have the experience you're looking for in a place with pork intestine and cattle tendon on the menu, but if you stick to the C-A classics, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

                                                              The General Gau's, in particular, is superb. As are the Peking Ravioli.