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Asia Gourmet in Concord: Very Good Taiwanese

t
teezeetoo Feb 1, 2012 11:21 AM

On my way to see a friend at Emerson Hospital, stopped here for lunch. Very pretty little room, unexpected from the outside (it's on Elm Street just before Route 2 in what looks like a desolate tiny strip mall). Even better, the food was excellent. We always steer clear of lunch menus, so we tried several Taiwanese dim sum items: the best salt and crisp chicken I've had, very good noodles with beef and watercress, and very good sesame chive and egg fried cake. The vegetarian hot and sour soup was subtle, with a lovely balanced flavor. I took the menu with me and we can't wait to go back to try some more Taiwanese specials. Very fine addition to the Concord area.

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  1. h
    hargau Feb 1, 2012 05:28 PM

    Its actually called Asian Gourmet and its a free standing building not a strip mall. We go there sometimes. Been there for several years. We prefer it for takeout as the Hibachi stuff can make the room rather smokey we have found. Dishes are hit or miss, some tend to be VERY greasy especially any of the spicy ones. The hot and sour is decent, just had it a few weeks ago.

    Here is the menu http://www.asiangourmetma.com/uploads...

    Which was the fried chicken you got? Was it the 3 cup chicken? Would like to try that

    18 Replies
    1. re: hargau
      tatsu Feb 1, 2012 06:03 PM

      Actually the original Jo Jo Taipei chef and family took over some months ago.

      1. re: tatsu
        t
        teezeetoo Feb 1, 2012 07:00 PM

        we had the bone-in salt and pepper fried chicken (on the dim sum menu). We didn't find any of items we ordered greasy and the chicken was crisp, spicy, and not at all greasy. The vegetarian hot and sour soup was not spoiled by excessive thickener, had very good balance, and was far more subtle than this soup has become at most places (Jo Jo Taipei still does it well and tatsu's point about the new owner being the former chef at Jo Jo's makes perfect sense, as our reaction was similar to the pleasure we felt when we first discovered Jo Jo's).

        1. re: teezeetoo
          h
          hargau Feb 1, 2012 07:07 PM

          interesting. I didnt realize there was a new owner. About 1-1.5 years ago they revamped the place and went to the current menu. Before that it was all very Americanized. I have only been once in the last few months so will have to try it a few more times.

          1. re: hargau
            tatsu Feb 3, 2012 07:53 AM

            Right, that menu was pretty specialized, lots of kidneys and green mustard, etc. The menu itself was pretty good but the execution was hit and miss. There was some discussion about it here.

            The current menu can't be more than a few months old. It is completely different. It's basically a Jo Jo Taipei or Formosa Taipei menu.

            1. re: tatsu
              h
              hargau Feb 3, 2012 08:12 AM

              I dunno.. I just got a menu from them about 3 weeks ago and its exactly the same as the one i have had for over a year and it matches the website.

              1. re: hargau
                tatsu Feb 3, 2012 08:32 AM

                This is the old thread. It points to a menu dated Sept 2010. I swear it is not the current menu.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/802742

                Also the old website looked like this:
                http://web.archive.org/web/2010091809...

                Finally I remember the old menu being a green letter sized tri-fold. The new owners changed the signs outside too. They changed the chinese name but not the english name.

                It's different, trust me!

                1. re: hargau
                  tatsu Feb 3, 2012 08:37 AM

                  Ah, I just found the *old* menu. http://www.asiangourmetma.com/files/A...

                  1. re: hargau
                    tatsu Feb 3, 2012 08:39 AM

                    And here's the current menu. http://www.asiangourmetma.com/uploads...

                    1. re: hargau
                      tatsu Feb 3, 2012 08:42 AM

                      Sorry the link I posted is bad. However, I found a quick view cache and saved it to my docs.

                      https://docs.google.com/open?id=1ZlVi...

                      1. re: tatsu
                        h
                        hargau Feb 3, 2012 09:47 AM

                        Ok i checked my menu drawer in the kitchen and i have both menus here. You are correct they are different. What threw me was the new one has alot of the unique things the old one had that i dont see at many places. The old menu was very confusing with multiple sections and alot more specialty items as you mentioned

                        1. re: hargau
                          h
                          hargau Feb 3, 2012 12:41 PM

                          The "old" menu i was thinking of was even older. Back when it was all Americanized food. May have had a different name then,cant recall.

                          1. re: hargau
                            tatsu Feb 3, 2012 01:57 PM

                            This is like the last episode of star trek TNG where all 3 Enteprises meet at the same place and blow up, ha ha. Except we are looking for menus not time space distortions, lol.

                            But at least we get good chinese food, good ending!

                            1. re: tatsu
                              h
                              hargau Feb 3, 2012 02:23 PM

                              i look forward to going to try it again. When we had it a few weeks ago for takeout we didnt get too many things. Hot&sour soup, house special rice cakes and dumplings in chili oil. All of it was quite good. Especially the rice cakes.

                        2. re: tatsu
                          m
                          makonna Feb 3, 2012 03:21 PM

                          Is the file attached from cache the current menu? I just realized that we are in the area tomorrow and it might be a nice takeout lunch.

                          Thanks so much!

                          1. re: makonna
                            h
                            hargau Feb 3, 2012 03:37 PM

                            The current menu is here http://www.asiangourmetma.com/uploads...

                            1. re: hargau
                              tatsu Feb 3, 2012 04:15 PM

                              Thanks hargau. I changed permissions so the old menu is not out there. Makonna, enjoy your lunch! You might stay in for some Taiwanese brunch style items, always a treat.

                2. re: tatsu
                  h
                  hargau Feb 1, 2012 11:58 PM

                  In another thread you say its the Formasa Taipei chef??
                  I used to like that place in Nashua and was bummed they closed. Hoping its them.. Have not been to the lexington one though.

                  1. re: hargau
                    tatsu Feb 3, 2012 07:55 AM

                    Yep he worked at both places. To me, Jo Jo Taipei and Formosa Taipei still kept up the quality. I visit them all really.

              2. m
                makonna Feb 4, 2012 06:52 PM

                Got some take our of the juicy pork buns and the peking meat sauce noodles and both were very tasty. Had big dinner plans, so didn't explore more of the menu. I did notice that at lunch time (12:30ish), most of the partons were Chinese. Can't wait to go back and try more.

                4 Replies
                1. re: makonna
                  opinionatedchef Feb 4, 2012 09:30 PM

                  we're hoping to go soon for the duck. the juicy pork buns- bao?steamed or baked?or are these the soup dumplings? thnx!

                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                    lipoff Feb 5, 2012 06:53 AM

                    On their menu anyway, "Steamed Mini Juicy Pork Buns" (item TT29) are written as 小龍湯包 or "little dragon soup buns", that is, the comon name for Shanghainese soup dumplings. These are very common in modern Taiwan. In fact, several of my Shanghainese friends prefer Jo Jo Taipei and Taiwan Cafe's renditions to that at Shaghai Gate.

                    1. re: lipoff
                      h
                      hargau Feb 5, 2012 10:05 AM

                      We went today and we had the tt29 and they are in fact the soup dumplings. Quite good.
                      We also had the salt/pepper fried chicken app, chive/pork dumplings (too similar to the soup but without the soup), the daikon radish cakes (excellent), hot& sour soups (excellent) and the house special rice cakes. Everything was really good. Saw many dishes on other tables that looked excellent too.

                      1. re: hargau
                        t
                        teezeetoo Feb 5, 2012 10:56 AM

                        i'm so glad you liked it. I was excited to find such a good little place in a rather difficult area. and i'm still a big fan of Jo Jo's, even after the various changes, so I'm happy that tatsu pointed out the relationship. we're looking forward to going back and trying out other things on the menu. we liked the room and the staff too.

                2. MrsCheese Mar 3, 2012 09:04 PM

                  We ate here for the first time tonight and it is a wonderful addition to the area. We ordered 7 dishes from the dimsum portion of the menu. Salt and pepper chicken - I couldn't stay away from this one even after I was full. Crunchy flavorful and juicy meat. Soup dumplings were good and new to my family. Potstickers were as expected but with a tasty spicy dipping sauce instead of the usual soy. The beef wrap in scallion pancake kind of reminded me of Mulans but the pancake was thicker. Not too greasy and one I went back to for seconds. The daikon cake was nicely brown and my husband proclaimed it the best he'd had - he's not usually a big fan of those. The noodles with sha cha beef and watercress were good but not particularly memorable. Steamed pork buns were probably my least favorite - more like a meatball inside and I prefer the BBQ pork ones that have minced up stuff inside. But they were eaten! Overall not a stinker in the bunch and Asian gourmet will go into the regular rotation. Thanks for the recs!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: MrsCheese
                    h
                    hargau Mar 3, 2012 10:28 PM

                    We went today as well.
                    Braised pork over rice. This was disappointing.. basically a bowl of white rice with some small bits of pork fat and some fatty drippings over it. Had a small bit of pickled veggies on top as well.

                    Hot & sour soup. Tasty as usual..

                    Spicy noodles in soup with beef sirloin. Im not a fan of the five spice flavor of this dish but thats just a personal preference. The noodles were very good and maybe homemade/hand cut, hard to say. The beef pcs were odd, some being very fatty or just large chunks of vein.

                    Seafood dumplings from the specials menu. these were not too good. fishball sorta middle with no real flavor kinda spongy.. Should have stuck with the soup dumplings but we were trying to try new things..

                    1. re: hargau
                      Kat Mar 5, 2012 04:58 PM

                      Is this the place next to Papa Razzi?

                      1. re: Kat
                        peregrine Mar 5, 2012 07:23 PM

                        yes

                        1. re: peregrine
                          Kat Mar 6, 2012 05:57 AM

                          Thanks!

                  2. n
                    nlg Mar 7, 2012 08:55 AM

                    I have passed by here thousands of times while driving on route 2. I'm so happy to hear that the food is good - and even more happy to find out that the chef used to be at Jo Jo Taipei. Menu looks terrific. Will have to stop there sometime when I'm out that way.

                    1. Kat Mar 11, 2012 06:22 PM

                      Sooo happy to have read about this restaurant here; we went for dinner on Friday and it just made my life brighter to have a good place to go now to eat here. Started with the dried anchovies with peanuts; salty and spicy with a nice crunch, I could have eaten another bowl. Steamed juicy pork buns were good, as others here have said, full of hot soup. Pickled mustard soup with fish was delicious. The fish itself was bland, but the veg in the soup was sour with a mustard tang that made me want to eat it all, so good. Salt and pepper chicken was crispy with a good peppery kick, would definitely order that again. Shredded pig ear was next, with a sesame flavor. I stripped the meat away and ate it, spouse ate it cartilage and all. The hostess said that they also do a spicy shredded pig ear, which I'd like to try next time. Sticky rice
                      was dark brown, like it was made with soy sauce, but no soy flavor. Thought we ordered too much food for two adults and a kid, but we made a "victory dish", as my grandparents used to say. Such a delicious meal, I'm looking forward to returning.
                      to try more of the Taiwanese specialties.

                      1. s
                        snippet Apr 20, 2012 05:19 AM

                        We'd given up on this place years ago but have gone twice since hearing about the changes. We like that it's different than the Chinese at most places around here and everything we've had has been pretty good and sometimes excellent. Lots of Chinese customers. Service is very efficient, orders taken promptly, things arrive quickly, orders always correct - almost too efficient sometimes with trying to clear things before we're quite done with them.

                        Portions are large with reasonable prices and it's easy to order too much food in the the course of wanting to try a variety of things. 2 of us wound up with food for 6 the first time. We learned and wound up with food for 4 the second time. Which is fine, I'm just as happy to take some home.

                        1. Ferrari328 May 1, 2012 10:58 AM

                          Stopped by today for the Soup Dumplings (delicious) and the Bone in Salt and Pepper Chicken and both was outstanding. Very extensive menu, and the menu itself was really nice with pictures of dishes and really nicely done.
                          Wish someone would do a Chow down in this place since I would love to try the more obscure items on the menu.

                          http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                           
                          1. a
                            al3h May 2, 2012 04:44 PM

                            Is the Taiwanese menu available all day or is it more of a brunch thing?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: al3h
                              tatsu May 2, 2012 05:24 PM

                              Anytime you want it, which is a big bonus. Formosa Taipei did this too a while back.

                            2. t
                              taterjane Jun 3, 2012 08:00 AM

                              We went to Asian Gourmet last night, spurred by this thread and a rec from my dad's friends. It felt a little bit strange to be eating Taiwanese dim sum items at night, but we persevered and ordered massive amounts of food. There were 3 of us and we ordered 10 dishes:

                              - pan fried daikon cake (very good; I couldn't stop eating them and usually I'm just ok with these)

                              - seafood hot pot (surprisingly deep dish, lots of noodles, not so much seafood and other stuff, but a good broth)

                              - snow cabbage with dried bean curd (I didn't know what this was when my parents ordered it. It's a cold dish of what looks like edamame with a tiny bit of wilted green stuff -- the snow cabbage, I guess-- and some small cubes of tofu. Tasted good.)

                              - tofu sheet (another cold dish, just a whole bunch of tofu skin with a nice sweet flavor)

                              - salt and pepper fried chicken, minus the spice (good)

                              - sliced beef wrapped in scallion pancake (the winner, for me. Delicious. Excellent sauce. And just as good eaten cold the next day, which I might have done a few minutes ago.)

                              - oyster pancake (my parents said this was very good)

                              - steamed mini juicy pork buns (very good, but I think Dumpling Cafe's is still better as I like the thinner skin of the dumplings at DC. The ones at Asian Gourmet have slightly thicker skin and tasted a little saltier, but were still good.)

                              - pan fried dumplings with chives and eggs (I liked the filling but didn't care for the skin as it tasted just like fried flour without much flavor. But I think I just don't like this dish. My parents thought it was very good)

                              - some kind of green vegetable that I think is called sauteed water spinach in english. Good.

                              Within 5 minutes of our ordering, dishes starting arriving. Granted, we had gotten there early and the room was only half-full, but it was pretty impressive that everything arrived within 15 minutes, and the waiter who dropped off the soup dumplings advised us to eat them immediately.

                              We had recently gone to Chung Shin Yuan and found the food had taken a turn for the average, and of the dishes we ordered at Asian Gourmet that we've had at CSY also, we all agreed Asian Gourmet was better.

                              Service was good, everyone was friendly, and we will be returning during a more lunch-ish time. Soy milks and shao bing/you tiao are only available on weekends (but all day), and the other items we ordered are available all the time.

                              The lower level (the hibachi and main area) was full by the time we left around 6pm. It was quite hot in there because of the hibachi, so I think next time we will sit upstairs in the sushi house part. They own both of them, and told us we could sit in either place and order from any menu.

                              The cost was about $70 before tip and with a 6% cash discount, and that fed 3 of us plus made 2 meals for my parents. We were very pleased with it, so thank you for the rec!

                              1. StriperGuy Mar 11, 2013 06:51 AM

                                Got some takeout from this place on Saturday. As good as any of the other (excellent) Taiwanese places in town these days. So glad to have it nearby our new digs in Concord.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                  t
                                  teezeetoo Mar 11, 2013 01:09 PM

                                  I'm so glad most folks have liked it. We don't get there as often as we'd like (not in Concord that frequently) but we are so happy it's there when we're in the neighborhood.

                                2. hungrytommy Mar 11, 2013 03:48 PM

                                  I went once to the Sushi House on the second floor and had a terrible experience. The fish didn't taste very fresh. I wasn't impressed with the rice (the most important part of sushi to me). And over all the restaurant wasn't very clean or well run. I never thought to try downstairs after the bad luck above. Has anyone eaten at both and seen a difference. I'm glad to hear so many good things since I live near by, but I'm still al little gun shy.

                                  www.hungrytommy.com

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: hungrytommy
                                    h
                                    hargau Mar 11, 2013 06:29 PM

                                    How long ago was that? They have changed owners a few times over the years.

                                    1. re: hargau
                                      hungrytommy Mar 11, 2013 07:34 PM

                                      I was there for sushi probably about a year ago. I always went to Ginger in Bedford, which I hope reopens soon! When it closed, I went looking for a new regular spot and struck out at Sushi House. Maybe they have new ownership since then?

                                      www.hungrytommy.com

                                      1. re: hungrytommy
                                        t
                                        teezeetoo Mar 12, 2013 03:55 AM

                                        I can't speak to the sushi - only eat the taiwanese menu and love the dim sum items such as the beef wrapped in scallion pancakes, salt and pepper chicken, daikon cakes. it does surprise me that, given the quality of the taiwnese food, the sushi would not be, at least, fresh, but then I'm not sure I understand why a Taiwanese place would also run a sushi bar.

                                        1. re: hungrytommy
                                          justbeingpolite Mar 12, 2013 05:03 AM

                                          I think the sushi staff has changed as well. Not the best, now, but pretty serviceable. I've had mostly good luck. And I like that I can get an order of mini juicy pork dumplings upstairs before some sushi :)

                                          1. re: hungrytommy
                                            peregrine Mar 12, 2013 09:32 AM

                                            Ginger's "opening soon" banner is up in the new building. No date yet. Ken's Deli likewise.

                                            1. re: peregrine
                                              hungrytommy Mar 12, 2013 10:56 AM

                                              The banner has been up for a few months now. A little longer than "soon" to me. I asked when they closed how long they would be gone. They told me six months but it has been way longer than that. I can't wait, but I am worried it might not be as good. They had almost no space and no kitchen. I hope they don't try to change it up too much when they get a newer, bigger space.

                                              As for Ken's I can do without. Never had much luck there.

                                              www.hungrytommy.com

                                              1. re: hungrytommy
                                                justbeingpolite Mar 12, 2013 11:01 AM

                                                Same owners at Ginger are coming back, hopefully it will be as good as before. New owners (or a previous employee) at Ken's. Not a problem for me, I hear they'll have pizza. Fingers crossed on quality. And a new tenant that every town now needs, a froyo shoppe. Hoping for the end of the month, I hear.

                                        2. re: hungrytommy
                                          s
                                          snippet Mar 12, 2013 10:42 AM

                                          Downstairs Taiwanese is one of our favorite places to eat around here lately. Ordering food from upstairs while sitting downstairs is a nice option to have, but of cousre you lose something of the Japanese dining experience. Be prepared that the servers downstairs may not be familiar with things - last time I tried that I didn't get the things it was supposed to come with (like miso soup) and had to wait around for soy sauce. Maybe the reverse would work better, dunno.

                                          Had sushi upstairs a few months ago and it was great. Been meaning to get back. Chatted with a sushi fan sitting next to me at the sushi bar and he raved about it - said went out of his way to get there whenever nearbyish (he was from Andover or someplace not too close.)

                                          (Upstairs did used to be problematic way in the past, with some previous owners, I had given up on it. I don't even recall what the food was like, as service was so messed up you were even lucky to get what you ordered.)

                                        3. FinnFPM Mar 11, 2013 06:46 PM

                                          Wow. Shocked at all the recs. I completely write this place off every time I drive past it. Very much look forward to trying it next time we have the opportunity.

                                          1. Ferrari328 Jul 8, 2013 10:47 AM

                                            Stopped by for lunch and had the soup dumplings again and they were delicious but the top where they twist together was very dry. I also tried the Chefs Special Lamb in Spicy Sauce. Lamb, green & red bell pepper & onions in special spicy ma la sauce is what the menu said. It had plenty of la (heat) but was lacking the ma (numbing) part. The chef must have grabbed the wrong bin of meat because this was beef and not lamb. I'm not too happy about that and since I was filled up from the dumplings and only had a few bites of this and it was spicy enough that I didn't realize this until I started in on the leftovers later on.

                                            http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                                             
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