Take Out for 10 - Recs
I'm helping to plan a take-out dinner for about 10 people next Sunday evening and am looking for recommendations for restaurants.
Dinner will be at my friends' house in Somerville close to Powder House Square. Their family will be visiting from Seattle, plus some more of us driving in from Western MA and Maine.
We're thinking of doing Asian; either Thai, Vietnamese, or Taiwanese.
We'll have a few cars and are willing to pick up from a few places if it is worth it. We will be a mix of spicy and non-spicy eaters.
So far restaurants we are considering are:
Rod Dee (the Porter Sq location)
My brief research on this board puts Mulan at the top of the list. There seems to be plenty of good recs for dishes we can consider from there.
Are there any other menus we should be perusing this week? Is it worth it to get dumplings from Wangs, but look elsewhere for main dishes?
Thanks in advance for your help!
More details of our great meal from Mulan:
8 of us (including some no-pork and no-spicy eaters) shared:
100 layers pancake (mediocre)
pork & leek dumplings (decent)
vegetable dumplings (decent)
scallion pancake (decent)
1/2 smoked duck (mediocre)
stir-fried peapod stems w/ garlic (very good)
sautéed bean curd sheet w/ bamboo shoot and black mushroom (very good)
Taiwanese style pan friend noodles (decent)
house special fried rice w/ shrimp chicken and veggies (decent)
chicken in spicy garlic sauce (very good)
We were happy with everything we ordered, and were particularly surprised with the peapod stems, bean curd sheets and chicken in garlic sauce. All three of these were well prepared, and each was unique and flavorful. The peadpod stems were a great success, as I was worried they would be soggy and a bit bitter after the car ride back from the restaurant. Luckily for us these maintained great flavor until mealtime. Both the bean curd sheets and chicken in spicy garlic sauce were surprisingly unique, the chicken having a great spiciness that promoted flavor as opposed to masking it, and the bean curd sheets unlike anything I have had in the past.
I was surprised about the smoked duck, since I thought I had seen positive references to it in other posts here on CH. Maybe we ordered the wrong thing, but this was nothing special; just cold smoked duck with little flavor. The slices of breast meat had slightly better duck flavor than the pieces on the bone, but overall this was lacking any distinct flavor at all. It was a good size portion however, and everybody got plenty to try.
The dumplings, scallion pancake, and the other ‘decent’ dishes mentioned above were on average with other take-out meals of this cuisine I have had in the past. There was nothing bad here, but nothing noteworthy, either.
We took a gamble with the 100 layers pancake, since none of us had ever ordered anything of that nature before. It ended up being similar to the scallion pancake, just a bit flakier. I suspect this is something that would better ordered for a dine-in meal, and maybe it has an appropriate pairing with another dish that I am unaware of.
All of us agreed that Mulan was the right decision for our take-out meal. We ordered plenty of food, and I thought the price was right with bill total in the low $90s (with enough leftovers for one more person). Next time I’m back in that neighborhood looking to dine out or for take-out I will definitely consider going back here, especially for the peapod stems, chicken w/ garlic, and bean curd sheets.
Thanks to everybody for all the suggestions!
re: Mike CP
re: Mike CP
re: Dave MP
The vegetable dumplings were filled with a mixture of finely chopped greens and tofu(?). The texture of the filling was okay, but it didn't really congeal with the wrapper at all, so it ended up as a mushy mixture on my plate (maybe a one-bite technique should have been used here, but these were decent-sized dumplings). It could have been the take-out factor that made them this way, but it seemed more like the veggie and tofu filling just released too much water while being steamed to really stay together.
I guess the flaw in general with veggie dumplings is the lack of any fat to really make it all stick together, but I definitely have had a more complete veggie dumpling experience elsewhere.
Regarding the smoked duck: I don't remember if the menu we were using to order mentioned 'tea', and it did not taste as if it had any external flavor. Looking back at a different(?) online menu now I see a salted smoked duck, and am wondering if this is really what we should have ordered in response to older posts about duck from Mulan.
Oh well, next time!
Along the Thai route, I'd suggest looking into Lemon Thai (on Highland Ave). Their country pad thai is my favorite in all of Boston. I'd like to think that says a lot, since I don't normally care for pad thai ...
If you care to go towards South Asian food (and not just East or South East), there's Guru the Caterer.
I would say there's no reason even to go as far as Mulan. I really like Rod Dee (although in our new vow to be more adventurous in ordering outside our comfort zone, this past weekend we ended up with something dreadful from the specials board with mixed seafood in red gravy. Avoid that.). You could easily go down Mass Ave and pick up a ton of dumplings from Quingdao and then hit Rod Dee for entrees. I really haven't found much spicy at Rod Dee (again, perhaps my ordering needs work), but you can get some heat at Quingdao.
I like Mulan very much. My own go-to mix for a large group comes from Brighton: Bon Chon chicken from Bon Chon and everything else from Jo Jo Taipei's, including the dumplings and the stellar Taiwanese hot and sour soup. I get the chicken 1/2 spicy and half not and have never had anything but happy eaters..