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Sep 22, 2012 01:06 PM

Not-so-Chinese in Chinatown?

A relative is visiting Boston and she is very taken with wanting to visit Chinatown for a meal. Trouble is, she actually hates real Chinese food and came undone when I brought her to Chow Chau City for dim sum one time a few years back. She loves American-style Chinese food and does appreciate well-executed American-style dishes. I can't think of any place IN Chinatown which might cater to her tastes. Does anyone have any suggestions? Otherwise, it's Golden Temple for us. I haven't been in over 20 years but it sounds like it might work for her, despite not being in Chinatown.

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  1. Don't most of the Chinese places in Chinatown serve the Americanized dishes she'll love?

    3 Replies
        1. re: Prav

          Yes but do any of them do it particularly well? In my limited experience in ordering faux-Chinese in Chinatown ( usually to appease a picky member of the dining party) it has never been very good.

        2. Try Shojo. More upscale that the typical Ctown design and food...Below China Pearl.

          2 Replies
          1. re: 9lives

            Out of curiosity, I just looked at the menu at Shojo. A very limited menu and none of the Americanized dishes found in suburban Chinese restaurants.

            1. re: 9lives

              Bad call by me. I read the OP's post too quickly.

              Montien has great Thai and very good sushi.

              New Shanghai also does a good job with more Americanized dishes; as well as more authentic.

              2 of my faves in CT. Haven't tried Shanghai.

            2. I like Shojo a lot, but I don't think it quite fits this bill. It's modern, pan-Asian, inventive, with a serious cocktail program and DJs later in the evening on weekends. More in the vein of a Myers & Chang or Momofuku Noodle Bar, with pretty sleek atmosphere for the neighborhood. Nice people running it, too. It's a brave experiment that I hope succeeds.

              Best bet in my book is Shanghai Restaurant, corner of Stuart Street and Tremont: quite respectable American-Chinese, full bar, a karaoke crowd some nights. Menu: My mom would be very happy here: she loves her some Golden Temple, though Shanghai is not quite as fancy as that. But it does have gentler prices.

              Don't confuse it with New Shanghai on Hudson Street, which despite the name does traditional Beijing and Sichuan cuisine. Actually, New Shanghai might be a good compromise for a crowd that wants the real deal and the Americanized stuff: it's a rare white-tablecloth place in the neighborhood, another relatively rare full bar, too. And many of the Beijing dishes, despite not being dumbed down, will be recognizable and enjoyable for the timid.


              1 Reply
              1. re: MC Slim JB

                I'm with you on New Shanghai, assuming that "Americanized" means beef and broccoli, etc.

              2. This suggestion may take the "not-so-Chinese" criteria too far, but I've found that Montien can please a pretty wide range of people. It is Thai, of course, so not what you had asked for, but if eating in Chinatown is really important to your relative, maybe it would be an acceptable compromise?


                10 Replies
                1. re: wandergirl

                  I have been working in CTown for 6 years now and I have grown to love the "Chinese" food of CTown once I realized it's not the Chinese food of my local restaurant at home. My favorite dish to eat is chow mien (the bean sprout, onion, chestnut soupy white sauced American style stuff) and there is NO restaurant in CTown that makes it like the neighborhood places. It is done with Lo Mein noodles and fresh veggies stir fried, not soupy white sauced stuff and never any bean sprouts! Once I got over my shock and many dollars of trying to find my neighborhood version of this dish in CT I came to now love the real version of chow mien. So I don't believe the food in China town reflects the "Americanized" versions- especially since you see nothing but the Chinese, Asian and Vietnamese dinning in these restaurants all day long. Now if I want my Americanized version of chow mien I now walk up to downtown crossing in the food court and get it in there otherwise I just enjoy the freshness of the Chinese version of this wonderful chow mien dish made the way the CT restaurants make it. I have expanded my tastes to an entire world of dishes over the past 6 years and each day is a new adventure in dinning here in CTown.

                  1. re: MeffaBabe

                    You're very fortunate to be right in CT every day. 1 of my favorite dishes is at East Ocean City. 8 delights chow mein. Pork and an assortment of seafood. For an extra kick, I ask them to do it in black bean sauce. I really enjoy it..can seldom finish it. I hope you give it a try.

                    1. re: MeffaBabe

                      MeffaBabe, have you tried the chow mein at the somewhat-recently opened China King? It was praised in the review.

                      1. re: bear

                        Yes I did. they use really thick long noodles. They are very heavy (like bad gnocchi) so I haven't been back there for that. I have had their soups which are good but the noodles really turned me off.

                        1. re: MeffaBabe

                          Although they're also called "chow mein," they're an entirely different type of noodle. I can understand a sense of dismay if you were expecting something else, but I absolutely love those thick, chewy Shanghai-style noodles, and they're not all that easy to find around Boston.

                          1. re: Allstonian

                            I love those noodles, too. On my first visit, my server suggested them, and I demurred, thinking of those crunchy things and wondering if I'd wandered into the wrong kind of place, or whether I had just gotten a patronizing suggestion for dumb white customers.

                            I managed to get something I liked, but as dinner wore on I noticed all the Chinese ex-pats eating these awesome-looking bowls of noodles. "What are those?", I asked. "That's the chow mein I was telling you about." "D'oh!"


                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Yes, the first time Jenny Ondioline & I ate at King Fung Garden we ordered the rice cake, which is another type of noodle that I absolutely love (and which were quite good.) Then we saw that every single other table in the packed little restaurant had a plate of the Shanghai chow mein, and we realized we had missed a bet.

                              1. re: Allstonian

                                Those noodles were part of the second-course stir-fry from the wonderful Peking duck three of us had last week. I couldn't decide which I loved more, the crispy skin in the pancakes in the first course, or the chewy noodles with flavorful sauce and duck meat that followed.

                            2. re: Allstonian

                              Maybe I will have to go back and try them again. I much prefer the lighter almost spaghetti type noodles better (not those crunchy fake fried things in a can), I think it was just they were so thick, heavy and just reminded me of gnocchi when not made right, they felt like lead sinkers. I may have to go there for lunch tomorrow and report back.

                            3. re: MeffaBabe

                              So as I said yesterday I went to China King for lunch and got the Shanghai Chow Mien. It was the thick noodles as I stated before, the difference was I was prepared for them when I opened the take out box... They weren't as heavy and awful as I first remembered them to be but they still are not something I can say I absolutely love. I still much prefer the "spaghetti" type noodles. The Shanghai Chow Mien had what looked like port and cabbage/onions with the noodles. A light flavor, mostly soy sauce. I still think I prefer the chow mien from LuLu's or New Golden Bridge. Still my absolute favorite meal is the Spicy BBQ Beef Bahn Mei from 163. I also love their Spicy Beef with rice dish and their dumplings and the avocado rolls... don't forget a Jasmine Tea or an Avocado Bubble Drink while your waiting...