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Where to eat in Chinatown on a Sunday night?

I'm coming to Boston for a conference next week, and am trying to plan a nice solo dinner for Sunday. I would appreciate your help in figuring out where to eat in Chinatown! I'm staying at the Doubletree downtown on Washington St, right near the Tufts Medical Center T stop. I'm moderately adventurous when it comes to Asian food, and I like Thai and Chinese (especially Hunan/Szechuan) as well as noodles - no Indian, though. One last request: I'd like to stay within walking distance of the hotel, as this will be my only night of peace and quiet before conference insanity takes over. :) GoogleMaps had some suggestions, but I never really trust the reviews they refer to there... I trust my fellow CHers much more!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Peach Farm, on Tyler St. is only a couple of blocks away. Fish in the tank seafood.

    1. There are a ton of Chinatown threads on here, so a quick search might be your best bet. I had lunch today at New Shanghai, which is one of my favorites for Szechuan. If I were eating by myself, I'd probably pick Shojo since it's a little more comfortable than most Chinatown spots and I'd be able to sit at a bar.

      1. Closest to you is Dumpling Cafe (Washington at Kneeland), a Taiwanese place with the best Xiao Long Bao in town. Also Tawianese and close are Taiwan Cafe (Oxford at Beach) and Gourment Dumpling House. For Szechuan, I concur with mkfisher on New Shanghai (Hudson at Kneeland). For Cantonese/Fukien, Best Little Restaurant (Hudson near Beach).

        3 Replies
        1. re: gourmaniac

          I've been meaning to start a thread on solo dining in Chinatown, as it's not a trivial task to figure out a meal for one. I'm talking about sitting down to properly eat a complete meal, as opposed to going into a restaurant and ordering 5 dishes and taking most of it home (that's cheating). gourmaniac, I know you know your way around all the lunch specials (which are nicely designed for a single diner), I wonder if you also have some good insights to share about particular dinner strategies when eating for one. Not that I mind ordering baskets of XLBs, a platter of pork chops and scallion pancakes for myself but, you know, it is bikini season.

          The BBQ joints immediately come to mind (Vinh Sun, Kantin, HKE, Wai Wai, Quick Pik, etc) - roast meat, rice & veggies, that's a nutritionally complete meal for one person right there.

          Vietnamese cuisine (eg. Xinh Xinh) I find is also well-suited to solo eating. A bowl of soup, a plate of bun, a rice plate ... each are all pretty well set up with everything you'd need to make a meal. I'll occasionally superfluously supplement an appetizer or a salad, but it's unnecessary.

          Cafe de Lulu (HK-style diner) has a great pick-3 option which is another good one, especially if variety is what you're looking for (almost a hundred dishes to choose from).

          I'll occasionally pop into Winsor or other dim sum joints for a bowl of congee and maybe an order of dumplings if I'm feeling particularly carb-deprived, so it can work too, but it's much better done with company.

          I don't know how the hell you'd do it at Montien. I don't think there's any single dish, or two dishes, that would comprise a civilized portioned dinner for one person, as much as I like the place (Thai menu, that is). The curries and soups are pretty big and intended to be a part of a larger group meal. I guess ordering one of the rice plates could work, though they are rather large and also portioned for sharing it would seem, but at around only $12-14, I guess it could work.

          Penang there are a coupla ways to go about it. A bowl of laksa, done. Noodle dishes are huge and also seemingly intended for sharing, but I think the rice plates, particularly nasi lemak offers a nutritionally complete and portioned meal for one person.

          Again, not sure how the hell one would do it at New Shanghai, or Best Little Restaurant, or Taiwan Cafe or most of the other restaurants in Chinatown, but I'd be curious to hear the strategies from others out there. I guess one could sit down to a bowl of mapo tofu and rice (New Shanghai) and call it meal.

          What I'm interested in are places where there's already an option specifically designed and intended for one person to make a meal, or other suitable strategies for making a reasonable meal for one that don't involve just ordering multiple dishes with intentions for leftovers or ordering any one particular plate without regard to its appropriateness to be consumed in isolation as a meal. I hope that makes sense, but it dawns on me now that I am in dire need of coffee.

          1. re: Nab

            I'm sure you know this but for others reading along who don't, the lunch specials are a good option.

            My favorite is probably New Shanghai, which offers a small bowl of soup, hot and sour or egg drop, decent spring roll (my choice) or chicken wing and main course w/rice.

            Dinner is more of a challenge..:)

            1. re: Nab

              Nab, you raise a great point. As 9lives points out, almost every place has rice plates in the $6-8. Supplemented with a app or veggie and your running under $15 for a full and substantial meal. One problem is that most places don't have their most interesting/costly items as lunch plates. Royal Palace, Great Taste and Taiwan Cafe are nice exceptions. The braised pork belly with preserved mustard greens (Moo Choi Kao Yuk) on rice at Royal Palace is one of my favorites and comes with soup for $6.15. Amazing value. The place in the alley (Lucky something) does three courses on rice with soup from a steam table for $5.75 and has an excellent variety of items from standard American to Fujian cuisine. Turnover is pretty rapid so even the fried things are fine (excellent wings and OK salt and pepper shrimp with heads). The Japanese places of course have bento boxes or all day lunch specials with salad and miso (Irashi). That's all I got.

          2. You are just a block or so away from Chinatown.

            I like all the recs mentioned already.

            If you feel like Thai, Montien is close. Be sure to ask for the Thai menu.

            If you want to have Malaysian, Penang is nearby on Washingto.

            Xinh Xinh for Vietnamese.

            Q Hot Pot,.also on Washington has a full bar also and is a more upscale room than some of the CTown recs.

            1. Yum, thanks! I'll report back...

              1. Oddly enough, your best nearby Sichuan options are at a place called New Shanghai, an easy walk from your hotel. It has two chefs, one from Chengdu, the other from Bejing, and the menu reflects that duality. (New owners didn't bother to change the English-language name.)

                Also consider Best Little Restaurant for Cantonese / Fujian, Bubor Cha Cha for cartless dim sum, Dumpling Cafe or Taiwan Cafe for Taiwanese, Hong Kong Eatery for Cantonese (notably roast meats), Q Restaurant for Chinese hot pot, China King for Beijing / Shandong cuisine (if you have the foresight, order their three-course Peking duck the day before and bring two or three friends to help you eat it), and Shojo for an interesting, modern take on pan-Asian cuisine (with good cocktails) in a cool setting.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                1. Nowadays I usually go to Winsor Dim Sum Cafe and occasionally to Taiwan Cafe.

                  Based on recommendations on this board, I've been anxious to go to Best Little Restaurant, but I need a Chinese speaker along to translate the specials on the wall (I could do it with the help of Pleco, but the restaurant would be locking up before I finished.)

                  New Shanghai does have good Sichuan food, but not as good as in the suburbs. Gourmet Dumpling house has several decent Sichuan dishes, and also has many other fine dishes, but there's always a line and I'm not sure it's worth waiting for.

                  1. Being alone is a good opportunity to get into gourmet dumpling house without waiting in line. There usually seems to be to be at least one seat at one of the communal tables. New Shanghai has more Szechuan dishes than GDH, but the ones GDH has, I think are better (in particular the Sliced Fish Szechuan style, and if you don't believe me ask Ming Tsai or Ken Orringer, both of whom have recommended it, hence the lines). As others have said, Taiwan Cafe and Dumpling Cafe would be my other choices, unless you want whole fish or salt and pepper anything, in which case I would go to peach farm.

                    1. It occurs to me that if you don't want a solo dining experience, you could invite all of Chowhound to join you. I've had some good dinners and made some new friends that way.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: KWagle

                        Thanks for the suggestion. Normally I would be all over a dinner with new friends... however, I'm really, REALLY looking forward to one night on my own before a week of conference-related social gatherings, aka "mandatory fun." And I rarely get to eat out without DH and DS (almost 3), so the peace and quiet will be a little treat for me. I promise I'll be more social on my next trip to Boston!

                        1. re: truman

                          lol, none of these places are especially quiet.

                          when i am solo down there, i usually wind up at penang or montien and just leave the stuff i can't finish.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            Winsor is quiet at night. Taiwan Cafe isn't loud late at night.

                      2. Dumpling Cafe gets my vote. They are open late every night and I agree they have the best XLB (soup dumplings) we love the crab and pork.

                        They offer rice plates and combos which include many options. http://www.dumplingcafe.com/dumplingc...

                        1. Reporting back as promised... I was feeling a bit intimidated by the dumpling houses (sitting with strangers), and so my reading material and I dined at New Shanghai. The Mongolian beef was great; I didn't care for their Szechuan dan dan noodles, though - perhaps they were authentic, while I was expecting something more PF Chang's-like (yes, I'm embarassed to admit it!).

                          On a side note, dinners later in the week at City Landing and Kingston Station were delicious as well!

                          Thanks again for the suggestions.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: truman

                            I go to Windsor a lot on my own. Sometimes I need to work quietly; other times I sit at the communal tables and (sometimes) meet amazing people and wind up sharing.

                            1. re: truman

                              Hmm, this makes me wonder where it is you've eaten Hunan or Sichuan food before. I know of only a handful of Hunan restaurants in the US (literally--I know of five, two in NYC, one near Baltimore, one in SF, and maybe one in Las Vegas, I think)) although Sichuan is certainly available much more widely (by which I mean a number of smaller cities have an authentic Chinese restaurant with a few Sichuan menu items, much like GDH.)