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Chinese food for my non-Chinese food eating wife

b
bobbert Aug 3, 2011 06:49 AM

Will be in Boston this weekend with my wife who doesn't like Chinese food. I'm convinced it's because, living in Maine most of her life, she has never had good Chinese food. She's actually fairly adventurous when it comes to ethnic food but most Maine Chinese places seem to serve the same generic salty, greasy slop. I'm looking for a nice place (if there are fish swimming around in a tank, the water has to be clear), not very spicy, maybe good vegetarian choices. Basically, real solid food in a fairly upscale environment. I'd like to play this safe. This is probably my last chance to convince her that what she has tried in the past really isn't what Chinese food is really about.

  1. StriperGuy Aug 3, 2011 07:03 AM

    Jo Jo Taipei in Allston has fairly nice surroundings and excellent food.

    Their twin lobster prep is amazing.

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

    20 Replies
    1. re: StriperGuy
      Allstonian Aug 3, 2011 07:45 AM

      I've always thought that Shanghai Gate, also in Allston, is a spare but surprisingly nice-looking room, with interesting artwork and a couple of beautiful antique carved room dividers. There are spicy items on the menu (I love the Paradise Mountain chicken), but also quite a few good non-spicy dishes, such as the lion's head meatball and the sauteed rice cakes.

      That said, neither Jo Jo Taipei nor Shanghai Gate can really be described as "a fairly upscale environment." The two Chinese restaurants that I can think of in the immediate Boston area that best fit that description - Golden [Temple] in Brookline and Changsho in Cambridge - will do nothing to change bobbert's wife's mind about the food.

      1. re: Allstonian
        StriperGuy Aug 3, 2011 07:59 AM

        Agreed re: Jo Jo and Shanghai Gate. That said, I think either is "nice enough" as opposed to the usual rough and tumble surrounds of say some Chinatown places.

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

        1. re: Allstonian
          C. Hamster Aug 3, 2011 08:06 AM

          Do you mean Golden Temple? Yeah, it's pretty bad.

          1. re: C. Hamster
            Allstonian Aug 3, 2011 08:18 AM

            Yep, Golden Temple. Thanks for catching that!

          2. re: Allstonian
            barleywino Aug 3, 2011 08:13 AM

            Bernards in Chestnut hill mall comes relatively close to upscale, or at least comfortable. Their shrimp, panfried noodles ("angel hair"), duck, fish filet, beef chow fun (and dimsum on weekends lunchtime) are generally good. Plus she (and you) can do some shopping while there.

            1. re: barleywino
              Science Chick Aug 3, 2011 08:15 AM

              Bernards atmosphere is nice, and the food is tasty, but their preparations are a bit too Americanized for me.

              1. re: Science Chick
                barleywino Aug 3, 2011 08:17 AM

                that's why she may like it ;) Also the dishes I list are pretty authentic imo

            2. re: Allstonian
              Boston_Otter Aug 3, 2011 08:14 AM

              Changsho has an upscale environment, definitely, though the food is Americanized Chinese. It's probably the best Chinese-American place in the area, though, so if the OP is looking for that style of food, as opposed to authentic Chinatown Chinese, it's not a bad option at all.

              1. re: Boston_Otter
                StriperGuy Aug 3, 2011 08:22 AM

                I would NOT go to Changsho or Bernards. Blech.

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

                1. re: StriperGuy
                  barleywino Aug 3, 2011 08:27 AM

                  we're not talking about where WE would go, but where the OP's wife would enjoy the experience the most. Besides, I find the shrimp, panfried noodles and beef chow fun there as good as any in Chinatown, if not better. If you look behind the mall surroundings and the Americanized looking menu, there is a real chef. I may prefer Jo Jo taipei for myself, but she might find the menu offerings too inaccessible, as has been my experience taking some people outside their comfort zone. I once took a couple from Michigan to a Korean fusion restaurant (Rachel Yang, who appeared on Iron Chef America recently) and the wife was so baffled and flustered that we had to leave and go somewhere else.

                  1. re: barleywino
                    StriperGuy Aug 3, 2011 08:50 AM

                    Even if there are a few decent dishes there, the likelihood is that they will order something else, and end up with Americanized blech (95% of the menu) which they are trying to avoid.

                    1. re: StriperGuy
                      barleywino Aug 3, 2011 08:55 AM

                      thats why I list what I consider to be good...if they order General Gao, I can't help them ;)

                      1. re: barleywino
                        StriperGuy Aug 3, 2011 11:08 AM

                        You're missing the point.

                        If they go to one of those places, they may, if they are very lucky, order one or two of your recs. But likely not at all.

                        They'll order something that catches their eye on the menu, and for the Nth time confirms their opinion that Chinese food is gloppy yuck.

                        Go to a good authentic place, with good food, and experience one of the great cuisines of the world...

                        1. re: StriperGuy
                          barleywino Aug 3, 2011 11:32 AM

                          if they order poorly despite the advice they get on the board, they only have themselves to blame. It's not luck, it's smart ordering. There are bad dishes at Jo Jo Taipei as well. If they do'nt like greasy, perhaps they will find the scallion pancakes at Jo Jo too oily, who knows? Or the eggplant too spicy? Or the stinky tofu at the next table too smelly? Maybe there's the possibility of more return at Jo Jo, but also more risk. I think if they are skeptical of Chinese food, they should ease into it, rather than get pushed into the deep end. But that's their decision, not ours.

                          1. re: barleywino
                            StriperGuy Aug 3, 2011 11:36 AM

                            A chacun son gout.

                            Personally I would not send anyone to a place where 80-90% of the menu is gloppy Amero-Chinese food as a way to expand their Chinese food horizons. Food failure in the making IMHO.

                            1. re: StriperGuy
                              barleywino Aug 3, 2011 11:41 AM

                              how do you know that 80-90% of the menu is gloppy? Have you tried them? Have you even been there? if the OP is looking for "good vegetarian" choices, Bernards has a spa menu which is light and veggie oriented. I think there are plenty of choices there that would make them happy. Even just ordering the dishes I mentioned, that's plenty of choices for 2 people.

                      2. re: StriperGuy
                        Science Chick Aug 3, 2011 10:40 AM

                        I'm with you, Striper! The point is to introduce her to *good* chinese food. They don't have to order beef tendon or anything "challenging" like that. That is why I suggested a couple of pleasing, easy dishes at Jo Jo Taipei. We need to recommend a few more of the nice accessible dishes there.........This actually reminds me of that scene in "Stranger Than Fiction", when the Will Farrell character says he doesn't like cookies, but then admits that he's never had anything but store bought ones. Then he eats a fresh, warm one out of the oven and is blown away. Someone with good taste, but only ever exposed to nasty, gloppy Chinese food would have every reason to have concluded that Chinese food is not for them! The OP says she is pretty adventurous otherwise.

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

                      3. re: barleywino
                        t
                        three of us Aug 5, 2011 07:15 PM

                        Good distinction re. OP's wife's likely tastes. .

                  2. re: Allstonian
                    j
                    Jenny Ondioline Aug 3, 2011 11:58 AM

                    Shanghai Gate was the first thing I thought of as well. If the OP's wife doesn't like the lion's head meatball, it's official: she does not and will not ever like Chinese food.

                    I get what barleywino is saying about taking her to Jo Jo Taipei -- it's true, if someone already averse to Chinese food catches a whiff of stinky tofu, they're just gonna shut down -- but I disagree that going to a training-wheels place like Bernards is the best recourse. Take her to Shanghai Gate. It's a perfectly nice room, the food is great, she's not going to find "generic salty, greasy glop."

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

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

                  3. re: StriperGuy
                    Science Chick Aug 3, 2011 08:12 AM

                    I second Striper guy on Jo Jo Taipei. Very nice atmosphere and outstanding quality food. Try their eggplant with basil and their scallion pancake for sure.

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

                  4. s
                    Spike Aug 3, 2011 08:33 AM

                    Fusion? If so, Blue Ginger in Wellesley.

                    In Boston, if you want good chinese food, Peach Farm.....malaysian food (they have some sorta chinese dishes), Penang.

                    suburban chinese is usually ick... :-P

                    -----
                    Blue Ginger
                    583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Spike
                      Luther Aug 3, 2011 08:46 AM

                      Peach Farm's hygiene won't exactly help OP's case.

                      -----
                      Peach Farm
                      4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                      1. re: Luther
                        BlueMagic Aug 3, 2011 02:52 PM

                        Is there an issue with Peach Farm's hygiene..? This is something good to know. Peach Farm comes highly recommended by tripadvisor.

                        -----
                        Peach Farm
                        4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                        1. re: BlueMagic
                          Luther Aug 3, 2011 03:09 PM

                          I have no special information about the kitchen but the dining room has that sort of grungy-white-tablecloth atmosphere where the carpet is all worn down and the tablecloths themselves are stained.

                          1. re: Luther
                            C. Hamster Aug 3, 2011 03:57 PM

                            It sure does!

                      2. re: Spike
                        Boston_Otter Aug 3, 2011 09:07 AM

                        Blue Ginger is a really good call. Though it's by no means typical Chinese, so if the OP's wife is a fan, he'll be hard pressed to repeat the experience anywhere else!

                        1. re: Spike
                          m
                          mkfisher Aug 3, 2011 10:29 AM

                          If you're going out to Wellesley, why not CK Shanghai instead of Blue Ginger. It's good americanized chinese food in a Wellesley environment

                          -----
                          Blue Ginger
                          583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482

                          1. re: mkfisher
                            h
                            hargau Aug 3, 2011 11:07 AM

                            Id highly recommend against CK Shanghai...I dont find the environment or the food good.

                            1. re: hargau
                              k
                              Klunco Aug 4, 2011 01:29 PM

                              +1 I visited this place several times and can't understand what the fuss is about.

                        2. m
                          makonna Aug 3, 2011 09:18 AM

                          Maybe a PF Changs? A modern twist on Chinese food? My sister loves their lettuce wraps. I wouldn't call it authentic. But it is usually a fun date night place. Good luck!

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: makonna
                            BlueMagic Aug 3, 2011 02:55 PM

                            Another vote for PF Changs...the lettuce wraps are really good. They have a lot of delicious vegetarian dishes..and they are probably actually more authentic than any place that serves up Crab Rangoon on the menu. One thing I like about PF Changs is that you can get plain brown rice. Also, the vegetables are always fresh and crisp and the service is always great. I have only been there with friends..but I can see the possibility of it being a fun date place.

                            1. re: BlueMagic
                              Luther Aug 3, 2011 03:09 PM

                              Or you could go to Best Little Restaurant and eat some lettuce wraps while having Actual Chinese Food.

                              1. re: Luther
                                StriperGuy Aug 4, 2011 05:52 AM

                                Yes!

                              2. re: BlueMagic
                                l
                                LeoLioness Aug 3, 2011 05:52 PM

                                Per their menu, PF Chang's serves crab rangoon....

                                The presence of American items on a Chinese restauran'ts menu isn't always indicative of its authenticity--it just means it also caters to unadventurous palates. Wang's in Somerville manages to serve both crab rangoon and chicken fingers as well as intestine, bitter melon and sea cucumber, for example.

                                1. re: LeoLioness
                                  BlueMagic Aug 4, 2011 06:38 PM

                                  I have never seen Crab Rangoon on the menu at PF Changs. If you are referring to the Crab Wontons they offer as an appetizer..they don't resemble any crab rangoon I have ever had. My point was PF Changs offers a different type of Asian cuisine ( albeit Americanized) that you get at most "Chinese " restaurants. They are not authentic however in the sense of what the Chinese actually prepare and consume.

                                  1. re: BlueMagic
                                    Science Chick Aug 5, 2011 08:13 AM

                                    PF Changs is a national chain restaurant. It may be good quality and may suffice in a market where independent, authentic restaurants are sparse/non-existent. I once visited Nashville and was taken to one there. Fine, since there isn't much else in the Chinese vein to choose from there. But here in Boston, with a wealth of wonderful Chinese cuisine represent many of the different Chinese regions, I would vote against it.

                              3. re: makonna
                                StriperGuy Aug 4, 2011 05:52 AM

                                Absolutely positively disagree. Blech.

                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                  m
                                  makonna Aug 4, 2011 01:51 PM

                                  I know that most replies are pointing to authentic chinese places. My response looks at the fact that the requestor asked for upscale. Clean and trendy is my interpretation. Honestly, if I got dressed up on our vacation ready to go to and upscale restaurant, and my husband took me to JoJo Taipei's, I'm not sure that I would be that happy, especially since he notes that his wife has never shown an interest in Chinese food. That was my midground/play it safe choice, and I believe it would make a fun date night and a small step towards less gloppy chinese good.

                                  1. re: makonna
                                    Science Chick Aug 5, 2011 08:16 AM

                                    Please note that the OP has responded and said "clean and nice" is what he meant, not "upscale". He just doesn't want a grimy, fast-food atmosphere, which I imagine has been his wife's "chinese" experience up to this point. If I was looking for good Chinese and someone took me to JJTP, I'd be delighted.

                                    1. re: Science Chick
                                      StriperGuy Aug 5, 2011 08:21 AM

                                      Yesssssssss!

                                      1. re: StriperGuy
                                        t
                                        teezeetoo Aug 5, 2011 08:56 AM

                                        just, in fact, took someone to JJTP for lunch yesterday, who hasn't had much Chinese food experience. We stayed simple: the fried dumplings, scallops in orange sauce, steamed pea pods - she loved it. The staff is invariably cordial and there's nothing wrong with the room. And if the OP is more adventurous than his wife, he'll be thrilled at his options.

                                        1. re: teezeetoo
                                          s
                                          Spike Aug 5, 2011 03:36 PM

                                          orange sauce? :-P

                                          1. re: Spike
                                            Luther Aug 5, 2011 04:34 PM

                                            Must be Sichuan dry tangerine peel of course...

                              4. l
                                lergnom Aug 3, 2011 09:20 AM

                                You might consider a place like Sichuan Gourmet in Brookline. They serve Americanized food along with Sichuan dishes in a nice environment. You can try a few different things and see how she responds. For example, their Dan Dan noodles is very different from the glop you might get. It's an appetizer so the investment isn't much. You could try something like family style tofu, which is an easy dish to like with clean flavors. You've certainly seen Chinese restaurants that call themselves Sichuan or Szechuan. This is much more the real thing. You will not get the same brown sauce on every dish.

                                There are many Chinese cuisines. You can explain that. The coastal ones tend to be lighter, but they also tend to be the ones that have been changed, some would say degraded in the US into heavy, fried & greasy. It's not only that she hasn't had good Chinese food but that she's unaware of what Chinese food is. That's like thinking Southern Italian cooking is like Northern Italian and then thinking an Italian-American red sauce place is "Italian food".

                                -----
                                Sichuan Gourmet
                                1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: lergnom
                                  b
                                  bear Aug 3, 2011 11:47 AM

                                  Sichuan Gourmet is an excellent suggestion. Good for a date night and lots of great choices food-wise.

                                  -----
                                  Sichuan Gourmet
                                  1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                  1. re: bear
                                    StriperGuy Aug 3, 2011 11:56 AM

                                    I agree, a good alternative.

                                    1. re: bear
                                      t
                                      teezeetoo Aug 3, 2011 12:18 PM

                                      honestly sichuan gourmet, while good, is not good unless you like spicy sichuanese food (it's non-sichuan dishes are bleh). Jo Jo Taipei and Shanghai Gate offer great range and rarely miss their mark. Bernard's is pretty but also pretty ordinary. Blue Ginger is delightful but not really "Chinese." Maybe the new Q in chinatown is more upscale and more authentic? I haven't been but perhaps others could comment?

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

                                      Blue Ginger
                                      583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482

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

                                      1. re: teezeetoo
                                        h
                                        hargau Aug 3, 2011 12:33 PM

                                        I agree. Sichuan Gourmet is not a good choice if you dont like spicy. There are some good non-spicy sichuan dishes but they tend to be salty...

                                        -----
                                        Sichuan Gourmet
                                        1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                    2. re: lergnom
                                      g
                                      Gabatta Aug 4, 2011 05:23 PM

                                      OP: "not very spicy"

                                    3. a
                                      ace52387 Aug 3, 2011 12:03 PM

                                      I agree with most of the posters here in recommending Jojo Taipei and Shanghai Gate. If you go during the weekend for brunch, Jojo Taipei has Taiwanese style dimsum along with the regular menu. When I last went they carried small dishes around, including salted, roasted peanuts and pickled cabbage.

                                      I would also get the soup dumplings, because who doesn't like soup dumplings. Actually, any dumplings would probably be good choices, as well as their stuffed pancakes and noodles.

                                      While I enjoy the eggplant with basil and the 3 cups chicken, it's a bit sloppy, thickened with cornstarch. It's not as gloppy as most of the chinese food in Chinatown, granted, but it may not be palatable for your wife.

                                      Kung pao chicken is a little spicy but it might be a good choice? My relatives seemed to like it much more than Chinatown versions when they were visiting. It's definitely salty so eat rice accordingly.

                                      Shanghai gate also has soup dumplings on the weekends (though they aren't as good) and I personally prefer it overall to Jojo. I would definitely DEFINITELY advise against listening to the suggestions of the servers. Stir fried rice cakes (really, just thick cut, somewhat chewy noodles) with pork, lions head meatballs, steamed fish, fish in brown sauce (I think that's the english name. It might be Hong Shao fish on the menu, or if it's not, you can say it and they'll understand). There are bones, and usually there's a head but it doesn't sound like she should have issues with that since trout is often served whole. All of these dishes are really good and not gloppy.

                                      Penang is technically not a Chinese restaurant but it has many Chinese dishes along with malaysian curries that may be more familiar to your wife. Hainan chicken is an interesting chinese dish now much more associated with singapore.

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

                                      1. Prav Aug 3, 2011 12:30 PM

                                        Not necessarily traditionally Chinese, but do you think she would enjoy shabu-shabu? Plenty of vegetarian raw ingredients to dip in your choice of broth(s). Kaze Shabu Shabu, in Chinatown, is very clean and modern inside.

                                        I think it can be a fun experience and it will put her in control of what she eats, which would be good if she's timid to certain foods or textures.

                                        -----
                                        Kaze
                                        41 Essex St, Boston, MA 02111

                                        Shabu
                                        397 Hancock St, Quincy, MA

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Prav
                                          e
                                          emc Aug 3, 2011 01:06 PM

                                          I was going to suggest shabu shabu as well. And agree with your reasoning..

                                          Shabu Zen on Tyler St is also nice.

                                          -----
                                          Shabu Zen
                                          16 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                          1. re: Prav
                                            Boston_Otter Aug 3, 2011 01:22 PM

                                            Little Q Hot Pot, in Arlington, is a great place to get introduced to this style.

                                            1. re: Boston_Otter
                                              C. Hamster Aug 3, 2011 03:58 PM

                                              Or the upscale Chinatown location. With parking in the building.

                                          2. Bob Dobalina Aug 3, 2011 12:34 PM

                                            I know the OP said "not very spicy" but my wife also finds typical American/Chinese preparations unappetizing, but really enjoyed our spicy Szechuan preparations at Fuloon in Malden, and now even requests it on occasion.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                              t
                                              teezeetoo Aug 3, 2011 12:53 PM

                                              I'm not a fan of Myers and Chang but a lot of reliable posters do like it and it is certainly "date night" worthy.

                                              1. re: teezeetoo
                                                C. Hamster Aug 3, 2011 04:16 PM

                                                That's a pretty good idea. Better than Blue Ginger.

                                                -----
                                                Blue Ginger
                                                583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482

                                                1. re: teezeetoo
                                                  b
                                                  bear Aug 3, 2011 04:21 PM

                                                  Myers and Chang is a very good suggestion.

                                                  1. re: bear
                                                    g
                                                    Gabatta Aug 4, 2011 05:19 AM

                                                    M&C would be my choice for this request.

                                                  2. re: teezeetoo
                                                    StriperGuy Aug 4, 2011 05:55 AM

                                                    Disagree. If they want real Chinese they should try it. Myers and Chang ain't it.

                                                    I stand by the original reccos of Jo Jo or Shanghai Gate. Nice clean places, Some interesting decor, excellent food. Genuine Chinese cuisine not some foofed up, dumbed down, Americanized version, which even M&C is.

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

                                                    1. re: StriperGuy
                                                      c
                                                      cambridgedoctpr Aug 13, 2011 12:54 PM

                                                      maybe the fish in the tank restaurants in Chinatown would also be something completely different for the OP's wife? Peach Farm or East Ocean Seafood?

                                                      -----
                                                      Peach Farm
                                                      4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                                      East Ocean Restaurant
                                                      3704 Washington St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                                                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                        KWagle Aug 14, 2011 05:15 AM

                                                        While those fish may taste delicious (and they do) they sure don't look delicious, swimming around lopsided with open sores. So it's probably better to find someplace with live fish in the back.

                                                        Tai Lake in Philly has a tank of live frogs out front, and they JUMP when you go to look at them, which made ME jump. :D

                                                        1. re: KWagle
                                                          Allstonian Aug 14, 2011 05:17 AM

                                                          Yeah, since the OP specifically said "if there are fish swimming around in a tank, the water has to be clear," I'm not sure that's the best idea.

                                                          1. re: KWagle
                                                            StriperGuy Aug 14, 2011 06:27 AM

                                                            Your description of the fish tanks is NOT at all accurate for all places in Chinatown and really does a disservice to Chinatown in general.

                                                  3. b
                                                    bobbert Aug 3, 2011 04:50 PM

                                                    Thanks for all the recs. This will keep me busy for most of the week. I guess I should replace "upscale" with something a little easier to find, like "nice" and "clean". I actually fear that I might have been asking for Americanized Chinese. The hope was to find some authentic Chinese while trying not to scare her away. I think most of you got that and I appreciate the help. I definitey wanted the places you would eat at where you think she'll find some good options as well- I think I have some good options to go with.

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: bobbert
                                                      g
                                                      gimlis1mum Aug 3, 2011 06:57 PM

                                                      Take a look at All Season's Table, too - very clean, very sleek dining room. They have jazz music on the weekends. We usually order sushi but their (Americanized) Chinese dishes and others are pretty tasty - no gloppy food, and nicely presented on the plate.

                                                      http://www.astrestaurant.com/

                                                      1. re: gimlis1mum
                                                        yumyum Aug 3, 2011 08:44 PM

                                                        Totally agree on all seasons table. Been there with adventurous diners and everyone has found something to their taste. The bar is great for a lunchy brunchy loungey meal on a weekday afternoon.

                                                        1. re: gimlis1mum
                                                          Bob Dobalina Aug 5, 2011 05:59 AM

                                                          Great suggestion. All Seasons is a very fun place.

                                                          And when you are ready to graduate to the real thing, the Fuloon is right around the corner!

                                                          1. re: gimlis1mum
                                                            t
                                                            threetix Aug 5, 2011 05:33 PM

                                                            I live in Vancouver & after looking at the websites of the above mentioned restaurants,I would choose All Season's Table based on their menu, (varied enough to please most palates) & their room,( looks very nice).I think this would accommodate your needs.However,the proof is in the eating.
                                                            Wherever you end up I hope you enjoy your meal.

                                                            1. re: threetix
                                                              d
                                                              drbangha Aug 6, 2011 01:33 PM

                                                              Just so you know, Fuloon is considered by many to be one of the best sichuan restaurants on the east coast. Sichuan food is typically spicy, but not all of it is. All Season's Table is a nice place with varied food, but after you eat there please walk up the street, ask to speak to Dianne, explain you heard about Fuloon on chowhound and that your wife doesn't like chinese, and then order a dish of pork with bean curd and one other item Dianne recomends. Take it home and have it for leftovers if you are full. You will be back to Fuloon, I guaranty it.

                                                              1. re: drbangha
                                                                l
                                                                lergnom Aug 6, 2011 05:13 PM

                                                                I love Fuloon, but they bristle if you call their food Sichuan. They're from Beijing.

                                                                A lot of the food at Fuloon is not spicy hot. It is spicy, meaning flavorful but not hot. Dishes like wok based whatever are just plain good. They also make a wonderful, totally not gloppy General Tso's Chicken. I take people there who only eat Americanized Chinese food and it opens their eyes.

                                                                1. re: lergnom
                                                                  almansa Aug 6, 2011 05:47 PM

                                                                  I was going to recommend Fuloon's wok baked beef for the wife. She won't even know it's Chinese food. And I'm just not feeling the love for All Season's Table. It reminds me of countless suburban pan-Asian restaurants, like the Sato's 1+2 (w/ whom it shares an owner and the menu is identical), or Imari in Winchester.

                                                                  1. re: lergnom
                                                                    s
                                                                    Spike Aug 7, 2011 06:38 AM

                                                                    That explains it...went there a while back expecting sichuan flavors like Sichuan Gourmet and they didn't use any sichuan peppercorns. Didn't realize they're Beijing style which makes sense.
                                                                    Still don't like it as much as the Billerica SG though...

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Sichuan Gourmet
                                                                    502 Boston Rd, Billerica, MA 01821

                                                                2. re: threetix
                                                                  KWagle Aug 11, 2011 04:28 AM

                                                                  "Varied enough to please most palates" except the palates that want actual Chinese food, of which there is none on their online menus. I think that's exactly *not* what the OP wants, since he wants to introduce his wife to Chinese food.

                                                              2. re: bobbert
                                                                j
                                                                Jenny Ondioline Aug 3, 2011 11:46 PM

                                                                That clarification only furthers my faith in recommending Shanghai Gate. I think it's exactly what you're looking for.

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

                                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                  t
                                                                  teezeetoo Aug 4, 2011 05:24 AM

                                                                  which reminds me, JO, to say thank you again to you and Allstonian who were the source of my trying Shanghai Gate which has become one of our five favorite "go to" places.

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

                                                                2. re: bobbert
                                                                  s
                                                                  Spike Aug 4, 2011 08:59 AM

                                                                  I think you have to ask yourself "authentic chinese" (if so, cantonese vs. szechuan vs. taiwanese and then whether you'd want homestyle or chic environments...chic we don't have much of in Boston so you'd have to visit NYC or Toronto), or "americanized chinese", or "chinese fusion".

                                                                  It's actually similar to going to an italian restaurant....mediterranean, northern, americanized (pizza etc.). If your idea of italian is suburban, it's probably pizza, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs...LOL... :-)

                                                                  1. re: bobbert
                                                                    barleywino Aug 11, 2011 05:04 AM

                                                                    where did you end up and how did she like it?

                                                                  2. Luther Aug 4, 2011 06:33 AM

                                                                    Nthing JoJo Taipei and Shanghai Gate. Neither is "elegant" or fine dining but both are solid casual dining environments with plenty of nonthreatening, delicious food that's prepared with considerable technical skill. There are some mid-spicy dishes at JJTP but they're not the majority of the menu.

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

                                                                    1. Mike5966 Aug 6, 2011 07:07 PM

                                                                      I was at Dumpling Cafe last night and I thought of this thread.

                                                                      Cleanest non-Q dining room in Chinatown with good food. A hot and sour soup to define the genre. The best XLB in the city. Snow pea leaves, julienne pork with bamboo shoots, beef with longhorn pepper, and an excellent rendition of twin lobster in ginger/scallion sauce, and you have a meal of greatest hits that is similar enough to Americanized Chinese that it won't seem completely foreign, but will be light years away from anything P.F. Chang's could ever offer. If someone does not enjoy this meal, they will never enjoy Chinese or Taiwanese food.

                                                                      1. KWagle Aug 11, 2011 04:26 AM

                                                                        I think Shanghai Gate is certainly a good possibility, despite being a bit dark inside. There's a well-dressed young man at the counter who can help with the menu, and the rest of the staff is pretty good as well. I'm a bit concerned about the suggestion of JoJo Taipei, if the smell of stinky tofu is actually bad. I once had a large weekend-only snack item there that smelled unpleasantly of rotting fish when I opened it up, and tasted divine. I've never had durian but I assume the experience is similar. Fuloon certainly has a reputation among some hounds as a purveyor of excellent examples of the food of many regions of China, but I have to admit I was generally underwhelmed on my one visit, especially at the premium price.

                                                                        Sichuan Garden 2 in Woburn has an extensive menu that is not entirely made up of spicy food, and Ran, the bartender and the son of owner Michael (and therefore an owner as well) is also fluent in English and happy to help with the menu. Their smoked duck is especially good IMO.

                                                                        Chill Garden in Medford also has an extensive Sichuan menu, which is about half spicy. The staff's english is not as good as one might wish, but their menu is very well translated and the food is awesome--a bit more creative in execution than the other Sichuan places. Their (mostly) cold appetizers are particularly good.

                                                                        And I have to wonder about Joyful Garden--the decor is certainly upscale for a Chinese restaurant and they do have an authentic menu. But how does the OP insure he isn't getting Americanese food, which, no matter how expertly prepared, is presumably not what he's actually looking for? I stopped by today to take some high-quality pictures of their menu, but I haven't had time to translate it yet--and frankly, with Pleco's amazing live OCR, working on written translations holds a lot less appeal than it did a year ago. If someone else wants to take a crack at it the pictures are on Facebook under the same username as I have on CH.

                                                                        https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.677954172248.2175270.713347&l=2d1f0dd38c&type=1

                                                                        http://www.pleco.com/

                                                                        1. q
                                                                          qianning Aug 12, 2011 07:22 AM

                                                                          Bobbert---So what happened did you try any of the recc's? If so, what was the response?

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: qianning
                                                                            b
                                                                            bobbert Aug 12, 2011 10:03 AM

                                                                            A fairly long story but we ended up eating street food at some festival in the North End but... we will be visiting our son in Alston in the next few weeks and I believe I have a good shot at going to Shanghai Gate as my son also raves about the place and will join us and, as my wife likes him way more than she likes me, she seems to be willing to try it out. I will resurrect this thread when we finally go. It's been a pretty interesting thread. Thanks.

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                                                                            Shanghai Gate
                                                                            204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                                                                            1. re: bobbert
                                                                              q
                                                                              qianning Aug 13, 2011 07:00 AM

                                                                              :)
                                                                              thanks for the update. we have lots of friends who aren't much in to asian food, which is pretty much what eat, so i'm always curious to hear what works and doesn't work in the soft introduction department.

                                                                          2. s
                                                                            sablemerle Aug 15, 2011 01:11 PM

                                                                            Perhaps your wife is a harder sell (my kid couldn't care less about atmosphere), but we went into Chinatown yesterday to Cafe de Lulu. It's not fancy in the slightest as it is trying to recreate a Hong Kongdiner atmosphere (plastc plates, cups, and chopsticks), but it was my kid's first introduction to honest Cantonese/HK food, and he found that he liked it very much. The two fish dishes were especilly good (one of them was a mistake, supposed to be eggplant with shredded beef, but it was so good,that we didn't bring it up to the waiter).

                                                                            Now that my son knows he likes "real" Cantonese, it will be that much easier to get him to try more authentic dishes

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Cafe de Lulu
                                                                            42 Beach St, Boston, MA 02110

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: sablemerle
                                                                              c
                                                                              cambridgedoctpr Aug 15, 2011 06:07 PM

                                                                              i agree with you and with striper; try good chinese and hope for the best,

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