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Gene's Chinese Flatbread Coming to Boston

mjg0725 Jun 18, 2013 09:02 AM

Just had a tried Gene's new dish that I had been hoping he would add to his menu for a long time now. It was cumin lamb cut very thinly and stir fried with sweet onion and bell peppers served over his infamous hand pulled noodles with a little chili oil, topped with sprouts and cilantro. The flavor of the lamb really comes thru well in this dish as it's juices become one with the chili oil forming a flavorful sauce for the noodles to slosh in. Best dish he has put on his menu to date IMO.

I was the only person eating so he came out and chatted like he always does. He told me he is opening a new restaurant on Bedford St in downtown crossing. He explained that it is about halfway between Chinatown and Downtown crossing so he should be able to pull both crowds. He plans to open sometime early July as the space is ready and all permitted, just waiting for some paperwork to be finalized. At first, he is going to do lunch only. He is going to split the time with his wife running the restaurant while running the Chelmsford location at the same time. He wants to feed people in Boston and he is very excited about this new venture. He is also happy the Bostonian's will not have to drive out to Chelmsford to get his food as they are a large part of his clientele.

Boston, you should be very excited about this, I know I would be. This man knows his craft and really truly cares about his food and what people think about the food. I will venture to say that this place is going to become a favorite of many soon and a HUGE success. Go Gene Go, and keep smiling!

  1. c
    cambridgedoctpr Oct 18, 2013 06:45 PM

    i tried gene's today; it was very good though the sauces were simpler than those of Xian's in NYC. Of course, the lamb burger and the pulled noodles are pretty interesting.

    Gene's in Boston is now open W-F till 6 30 making it a reasonable dinner option. It was busy but not crazy when i was there on Friday at 6 pm.

    1. m
      mkfisher Aug 6, 2013 09:58 AM

      Question for those more familiar with these noodles than I am...

      I just had the #4 hand pulled noodles. While they were really tasty, they were swimming in a pool of oil at the bottom of the container. Is that normal?

      2 Replies
      1. re: mkfisher
        greygarious Aug 6, 2013 11:28 AM

        Yes. I take that spicy oil home and use it to make delectable stir-fries.

        1. re: greygarious
          KWagle Aug 7, 2013 03:54 AM

          I just eat it with a spoon. It's tough to get sufficient fat in my diet (though vegetable oils are pretty unhealthy, they still do provide energy.)

      2. s
        saria Aug 2, 2013 11:06 AM

        I just went and had the cold noodles and they were DELICIOUS! So nicely vinegary, not too oily, refreshing. Tea egg was great.
        Lamb skewer was good and spicy, but the noodles were the highlight.
        I'll have a hard time not getting the cold noodles again, but I do want to try the hand-pulled noodles. I like thick, chewy noodles (love rice cakes, enjoyed Uncle Zhou's knife-cut noodles in Queens).

        4 Replies
        1. re: saria
          KWagle Aug 4, 2013 11:50 PM

          I also like (okay, love) the thickness and chewiness (also true of sticky rice cake, AKA niangao) but I do appreciate MeffaBabe's characterization of them as "gummy and almost raw tasting" or perhaps more kindly, doughy and in places undercooked. If those aspects weren't mentioned in the previous 127 postings, at least one Chowhounder was asleep at the keyboard.

          It's not always easy to remember that it's much more useful to say something like "If you enjoy chewy things like squid and conch, and don't mind a shortage of actual flavor, you'll probably enjoy the beef larynx at Red Pepper in Framingham. If you don't like the chewiness of the tougher ocean denizens, you should skip this one."

          1. re: saria
            s
            saria Aug 5, 2013 02:23 PM

            I had the hand-pulled noodles today and I don't get the complaints at all. They were substantial, but tender. There was no gumminess, no raw flavor or texture. I was mentally prepared for a much more intense jaw workout and none was to be had (knife cut noodles for example). The noodles were wonderful!
            As for the flavor, I would say they need to be thoroughly, thoroughly mixed otherwise you don't get the necessary bit of acid to coat all the noodles and you get just too strong a punch of raw garlic. I could go for a bit more chili heat, but I thought they tasted great.

            1. re: saria
              l
              lossless Aug 6, 2013 10:05 AM

              It sounds like you got a good fresh batch. Mine didn't require a jaw workout either (they weren't tough in texture) but they had stuck together firmly into one single mass. You could not mix them with the sauce/garlic for that reason; I resorted to turning the mass over and over and coating it with the sauce while I took big bites out of it.

              1. re: lossless
                s
                saria Aug 6, 2013 10:25 AM

                Oh, that I can see being a problem, just that eading both the positive and negative comments I was expecting chewier, tougher noodles that would be more of an acquired taste (I have a friend who hates rice cakes, for example, whereas I find their chewiness addictive), but they really weren't at all.
                The raw garlic I can see being polarizing, because much like raw onion, a lot of people don't find it enjoyable. The noodle complaints is what I'm puzzled by.

          2. s
            ScotchandSirloin Aug 2, 2013 10:31 AM

            Can't really type, food coma. Just finished a hand pulled noodle and a cumin lamb hand pulled noodles. Both were really good but I actually liked the lamb noodle better. Really interesting type of noodle and good flavors, so definitely worth trying. I will go back. It wasn't a life changing experience (although I wonder if the special weekend noodle in Chelmsford might not be), but definitely a good addition to Boston.

            1. l
              lossless Aug 1, 2013 04:35 PM

              Question for frequent eaters at Gene's: Do the hand-pulled noodles always stick together so that it's difficult to pull them apart? I only went once to the Chinatown branch. The noodles came out in the usual takeout bowl, and I set it aside for a couple of minutes to try a bit of the flatbread. When I opened the bowl cover, the noodles had become a single doughy mass, and I ate it mostly by hoisting the whole chunk up to my mouth and taking big bites. Is this normal for their hand-pulled noodles?

              14 Replies
              1. re: lossless
                BlakeGumprecht Aug 1, 2013 05:12 PM

                I haven't had that problem, but I have only eaten at the Chelmsford restaurant. Perhaps the problem is the takeout bowl and the fact that you left the lid on top, which would contain the heat and perhaps cook the noodles further, causing them to stick. I'm guessing, because Gene's serves the noodles in non-takeout dishes in Chelmsford. I wouldn't think the hand-pulled noodles would travel well, but haven't tried.

                1. re: lossless
                  mjg0725 Aug 1, 2013 06:08 PM

                  Take out for me stick together some, more so the longer they are sealed. I always give them a good toss in a larger bowl before I eat em to evenly distribute the love. they separate some then.

                  1. re: lossless
                    greygarious Aug 1, 2013 06:15 PM

                    The serving of the hand-pulled is a single but very long noodle. You have to either "hoist it", as you wrote, or cut it up.

                    I hope this post is not followed by a likewise long list of nay-sayers complaining about false advertising since the dish is not listed as "hand-pulled noodle".

                    1. re: greygarious
                      l
                      lossless Aug 1, 2013 06:47 PM

                      Re: false advertising, do I have to buy the noodle in order to get the free fries? That is the question.

                      1. re: greygarious
                        KWagle Aug 2, 2013 12:40 AM

                        Clearly this must be sarcasm, since the dish IS listed as "hand pulled noodle". And the reason I go there is because I love the noodle, and enjoy the dishes it's served in (though I haven't had the chicken stew yet.) It has nothing to do with obscurity or hype or the character of the owner, and everything to do with the noodles. I can call them noodles instead of noodle because I never eat just one.

                      2. re: lossless
                        s
                        sqboo Aug 1, 2013 06:43 PM

                        I had them once (eat-in, no cover) in Chelmsford and they were a pretty big doughy mass. I wondered if some thicker sections were undercooked, but I wasn't sure what to expect either being a first timer.
                        I liked the thinner sections but the thick not as much. I split a bowl with a friend and we didn't finish them tbh. .

                        http://www.xianfoods.com/menu.php

                        They didn't look at all like these "hand ripped" noodles but I have yet to try these.

                        1. re: lossless
                          l
                          lossless Aug 1, 2013 06:45 PM

                          Ok, good to know. Next time I'll open up and dig into the noodles asap when it comes out. I saw many people getting takeout, and I can only imagine the sticky problem is worse for them if they have to travel more than a few minutes. Having a big bowl to toss them would be great but not really possible at the Chinatown branch.

                          1. re: lossless
                            FinnFPM Aug 1, 2013 07:08 PM

                            Yep. 100% it's just with takeout. The noodles are just like any other fresh pasta: they will stick together if you let them. Try cooking some fresh pasta at home and don't stir them in the pot. See what happens. They'll become a gummy mass. Same with Gene's. Once they get stuck together, there's basically no unsticking them. I just switch from chopsticks to fork. And maybe knife.

                          2. re: lossless
                            t
                            tysonmcneely Aug 2, 2013 07:42 AM

                            I've eaten at the Chelmsford location and at the new dtx location twice. The time I got hand pulled noodles in DTX, they were definitely not made fresh. (I got them a minute after ordering.) They were made to order at the Chelmsford location and did not stick together, but at the DTX location they certainly did as they had "set." (Due to gluten?)

                            Hopefully the DTX location can find the right balance of making dishes to order or having 30+ min waits...

                            1. re: tysonmcneely
                              l
                              lossless Aug 2, 2013 07:49 AM

                              That's too bad. Yes I hope they can find some ways of balancing both making as much as possible freshly upon order + keeping the line of customers happily moving along.

                              Gene knows Xi'an cooking better than I do (no really) but maybe the noodles could be "greased" with some oil right before being packed up, to keep them from sticking? The way you might work with olive oil on pasta.

                            2. re: lossless
                              t
                              tysonmcneely Aug 2, 2013 07:56 AM

                              I guess this is the inevitable backlash to Gene's popularity. As has been stated before, I think the reason Gene's gets so much love is because it is the ONLY place around here that makes these dishes. The authentic Chinese in Providence sounds great, but there are many good authentic chinese restaurants in this area as well. (Side note: Out of curiousity, what style of cuisine is the one in Providence?)

                              Also, these dishes are new to a lot of people (including myself), which people tend to like.

                              If you start a restaurant with an established cuisine that no one else is doing in the greater boston area, then I bet you too, will receive attention on this board.

                              Personally, I think the flat bread is nothing special. The meats are pretty good, but nothing extraordinary and the flatbread is ok. The lamb skewers are very good, but they can be had a other places such as One of the the Kind. However, the hand-pulled noodles and chilled noodles are excellent. Now that is just an opinion, BUT I ask the naysayers where else can I get a dish like this? That is the draw.

                              Also, my experience with the DTX location has not certainly not been close to my experience at the Chelmsford location, but they just opened up and I hope they can get it down with time. If you are judging them based on the DTX location, I would suggest trying them in a month or two and seeing if you like it any better.

                              1. re: tysonmcneely
                                MC Slim JB Aug 2, 2013 09:12 AM

                                I always found the name One of the Kind amusing, but I like One of the the Kind even better. It's like that old Paris in the the Spring thing.

                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                1. re: tysonmcneely
                                  hotoynoodle Aug 2, 2013 09:23 AM

                                  gene's is my only exposure to this cuisine as well. i eat almost no wheat anymore, so even though i enjoyed the noodles, i got a stomach-ache after. :( so, worth trying while we were zooming through chelmsford, but not a must-have for me. i do want to try the lamb, but again, not if i am @dtx and have to wait 30 mins!

                                  btw, my b/f has taken his teens to chelmsford a few times and they LOVE the noodles. they are pretty fussy eaters of plain food who don't usually like spice, so both of us were shocked by their response. like, stay away from my bowl or i will stab you, kinda thing, lol.

                                  1. re: tysonmcneely
                                    greygarious Aug 2, 2013 11:57 AM

                                    Do you know the Kirgilnix thread? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/612551
                                    Satirical fiction though it is, the comparisons to the Gene's comments are striking.

                                2. MeffaBabe Jul 30, 2013 10:02 AM

                                  Went to Genes Boston location today at lunch. let me start by saying I work in downtown Chinatown Boston. I love Chinese noodles...

                                  I could not decide which dish to get so I got #3 and #9. Lets start with the flatbread sandwich... blah. Salty no taste no sauce and bread that is really just noodle dough cooked (almost burnt) on a flattop. It was still raw inside.

                                  #9 I was lured by the hand pulled noodle description... what a fool for falling for that. Yes, they were hand pulled but they were like lead sinkers in my stomach. They were too gummy, no flavor and almost still raw tasting. They were way, way too heavy.

                                  When I want good noodles I will continue to go to China King on Beach St and get their Chow Mein dishes. The Shanghai is delicious and you can ask for them to make it a bit spicy. The noodles are always cooked to perfection and if I don't get the Udon Noodles for my Chow Mein then I can order my Chow Foon and get the wide flat noodles that aren't lead sinkers in my stomach. Best Noodles in Chinatown.

                                  China King
                                  60 Beach St
                                  Boston, MA 02111

                                  37 Replies
                                  1. re: MeffaBabe
                                    FinnFPM Jul 30, 2013 10:20 AM

                                    The noodles had no flavor, but you didn't like the way they tasted?

                                    1. re: FinnFPM
                                      g
                                      Gordough Jul 30, 2013 11:20 AM

                                      I read the post as saying the noodles had no flavor, were too gummy (i.e. consistency of the noodles), not cooked properly and too heavy. I don't think there is any contradiction there....

                                      1. re: Gordough
                                        greygarious Jul 30, 2013 11:58 AM

                                        Comparing hand-pulled noodles to chow foon is like comparing rustic bread to popovers. They are not supposed to have the same taste or texture. I doubt that MeffaBabe has had hand-pulled before, and has learned that they are not her cup of tea. But to criticize them for not having the taste and texture of a completely different type of noodle is unfair. As a point of interest, the time-consuming cold noodles that Gene's in Chelmsford have on weekends are very tender and silky. They come from the same dough mixture as the hand-pulled but the preparation differs. The dough is soaked overnight, which removes the gluten. That gluten is then drained and cooked separately in bite-sized, chewy pieces similar in texture to very overcooked scrambled eggs. Both the gluten and the soft noodles are combined in the cold noodle dish. In contrast, the pulling and banging of the #4 and #9 noodles activates the gluten, which is promptly cooked so it has no time to relax and results in a chewy noodle.

                                    2. re: MeffaBabe
                                      MeffaBabe Jul 30, 2013 11:52 AM

                                      The noodles had no real flavor were too gummy and were way too heavy in comparison to other noodle dishes in Chinatown. I think it was how heavy the noodles were that had me decide I would never order them again. You can have thick noodles but not have them go down like lead weights on a fishing line. Did not like the place at all and will not be back.

                                      1. re: MeffaBabe
                                        h
                                        hargau Jul 30, 2013 12:01 PM

                                        Meffababe & Nasilemak, you will soon learn that you are not allowed to dislike this place or you will be "wrong".. just like many other overhyped places on this forum.. If you read my posts above though, i am with you...

                                        1. re: hargau
                                          BlakeGumprecht Jul 31, 2013 01:33 PM

                                          You don't have to like Gene's, but I agree with greygarious that's it's unfair to compare Gene's hand-pulled noodles to noodles from restaurants that specialize in cuisines from other parts of China.

                                          Gene's specializes in the food of Xi'an in central China. As far as I know, no restaurant in Boston's Chinatown does that. China is a big country, but most Chinese restaurants in Chinatown specialize in food from the eastern part of the country or Sichuan. Comparing his noodles to noodles from other parts of China is like comparing them to Italian pasta.

                                          Myself, I love them and have gone back to Gene's repeatedly even though it's an hour from my house. They are unlike any other Chinese food I've ever eaten. But if you go to Gene's expecting or wanting typical Chinese food, you may be disappointed.

                                          1. re: BlakeGumprecht
                                            h
                                            hargau Jul 31, 2013 02:25 PM

                                            So you are saying a Xi'an specialty is green giant style frozen veggie mix?

                                            1. re: hargau
                                              greygarious Jul 31, 2013 02:41 PM

                                              That's a low blow, IMO. The unfortunate vegetable mix has been mentioned many times on the two Gene's threads. Nobody thinks it's a great choice but it is hardly the focus of the cuisine he's featuring. I'm not keen on the beverage choices but wouldn't knock the place on those grounds. It's all about the noodles and the meats. I haven't seen the Boston location but Chelmsford has a small kitchen without a lot of fridge/freezer space. It's also Gene's first restaurant venture, and not yet two years old. He may not yet know what all the restaurant supply options are. But he's very invested in making food his customers enjoy. I'll wager that if it grows to include more hands in better-outfitted kitchens, there will be in-house prep of fresh vegetables.

                                              1. re: greygarious
                                                h
                                                hargau Jul 31, 2013 03:29 PM

                                                It is not a low blow there are 6-7 items on the menu and that is one of them. So it is not the same as critiquing the beverages and i would say 1/6 of the menu is a pretty good part of the menu.. I wouldnt say anything there is about meat, there is so little meat in anything...The one thing that had a significant amount of meat was the sandwich which was greasy with no flavor and served on what tasted like a stale hockey puck english muffin.. come on.. It seems to basically be about the 1 dish with the hand pulled noodle with gobs of raw garlic on it. Maybe take that noodle and serve it on a platter with an interesting sauce and some meats, seafoods and chinese veggies and then maybe you have a nice dish. Otherwise it is nothing but a chewy noodle in a bowl with chile paste and raw garlic on it.. ok for a few bites then its tedious to even eat. 2 of us split it and still left some there.. not because we were full but because we were bored,and tired...

                                                I am sure they are very friendly, personable, nice people but lets not confuse good food with liking the owners/chefs..

                                                1. re: hargau
                                                  BlakeGumprecht Jul 31, 2013 04:43 PM

                                                  I drive an hour to Chelmsford and have done so often because of the noodles, not because of Gene. If you don't like 'em, fine. There will be more seats for those of us who do.

                                            2. re: BlakeGumprecht
                                              d
                                              Dinsdale45 Jul 31, 2013 02:37 PM

                                              I'm sure there are many other wonderful dishes from this region of China, and I guess I feel a bit cheated by the limited menu options at Gene's. Westerners don't have the opportunity to try these regional cuisines, and here's a new popular place in my back yard, but pretty much all they serve are big thick chewy noodles. I can get a good spicy cumin lamb dish down the road at Sichuan Palace. I could order a pork or beef stir fry from any Chinese fast food joint, put some between a dry roll, and it wouldn't be far off from Gene's "specialty". And anyone's grandma has made better soups. I'd rather try the varied dishes offered at the many little Cambodian mom and pop places in Lowell. But, the herd has spoken, and Gene's is the greatest place EV-ER.

                                              1. re: Dinsdale45
                                                BlakeGumprecht Jul 31, 2013 05:05 PM

                                                There's more to the menu than that. I'm a vegetarian, so eat only the noodles, but I'm usually in the minority. Most of the Asians in the place order other dishes. Given the continual parade of people who drive to the middle of nowhere to eat there, they must like it. Many speak the same language as Gene, so I'm guessing they probably know more about Xi'an food than you or me. They seem to think Gene's is worth the trip, as do. Perhaps you just don't like Xi'an food. I might add that my 15-year-old told me when we went there yet again on Saturday that Gene's noodles are now his favorite food, better even (remember he's a teenager!) than pizza. I wouldn't go that far, but I love 'em too.

                                                1. re: BlakeGumprecht
                                                  h
                                                  hargau Jul 31, 2013 06:27 PM

                                                  ahh so there is a "secret" menu i dont know about? Perhaps that is the problem.

                                                2. re: Dinsdale45
                                                  greygarious Jul 31, 2013 06:03 PM

                                                  <many other wonderful dishes from this region of China>
                                                  I have never been to China but my best friend is a globe-trotter who spends a lot of time in middle Asia, from the " 'stans" to Mongolia - closer to Xian than coastal China is. She tells me the menus there are very limited. Lots of cheese, milk, and wheat noodles/bread. Not much meat and sparse amount/variety of vegetables.

                                                  The groups of students and tech workers who drive an hour or more, from places like Worcester, to eat at Gene's are proof that his food is close to the home cooking of the area in which they were raised.

                                                  When Gene opened the first restaurant, he added a few typical Americanized Chinese items to the menu since that's what many people who just happened upon it wanted. It was his hope that as time passed, word would get out and the majority of his customers would be people wanting Xian cooking. That has happened. Why others who prefer a different style of Chinese food are so put out by those who like Xian style is a mystery to me.

                                                  1. re: greygarious
                                                    d
                                                    Dinsdale45 Aug 1, 2013 04:08 AM

                                                    http://www.xianfoods.com/menu.php

                                                    Similar dishes, but many more options. That's what I'm looking for. Not just noodles and dry bread. This isn't a remote impoverished region of China, meat and produce are readily available. I realize the limitations of the kitchen, etc., but this is a weak excuse, since many ethnic restaurants are hole in the wall joints. When Gene's first opened, I asked him if he would be expanding the menu, and was told yes, after they got up to speed. We're still waiting, and there seems to be no changes coming with the expansion into Boston.

                                                    I'm sure the expats who visit Gene's are looking for comfort food, and are willing to drive the extra miles for a taste of home. Just like the locals around here packing the 99 and Glenview Pub every night looking for some meatloaf and mac n' cheese. Just because it's familiar, doesn't make it great.

                                                    I just find Gene's ascendance on Chowhound interesting and amusing as a study of a social epidemic. Why Gene's? Why not Gold Stone, a Chow-worthy place serving authentic Chinese food in Providence? Why not any one of the ethnic places in Lowell? I refuse to believe that Gene's is so transcendent, that it is fully deserving of the hype on this board.

                                                    1. re: Dinsdale45
                                                      Nab Aug 1, 2013 05:03 AM

                                                      It's deserving of hype for at least the novelty of this regional cuisine here, the rarity/allure of hand-pulled noodles, and Gene as a personality, too. It'd be great to see more regional cuisines represented here, and I'd particularly cast a vote for idiosyncratic singular specialists. It'd be nice if the food was tasty, too.

                                                      Hoards line up for Jiro-style ramen here in town, does that make that bowl of ramen objectively tasty ? Maybe it's authentic (personally find the style grotesque!), maybe it's hipster hype of the ramen du jour, and maybe somebody in that line genuinely finds it tasty regardless.

                                                      1. re: Nab
                                                        h
                                                        hargau Aug 1, 2013 05:17 AM

                                                        I think Nab is right. I was going to say something similar.
                                                        1)There is a certain "street cred" amongst friends to be able to say your way into something they have not even heard of.. Makes one feel more hip, in the know, etc.. "WHAT you mean to tell me you have not had Xi'an!! OMG you HAVE to try it".. I have seen it happen with dimsum, cambodian, ethiopian, etc..before they became more mainstream..
                                                        2)I also believe its the personality thing as i mentioned above. People have developed a personal relationship for a very nice personable guy who did a chowdown with them and who they have obviously had many conversations with. He is now like a friend who you want to stick up for.
                                                        3)He is an immigrant trying to make it and live the American Dream, a story that we all love to hear/see.
                                                        4) He works his butt off and human nature wants to reward hard work.
                                                        5) Novelty.. People line up to eat all sorts of things they have never had or heard of before. People love this, the show Bizarre foods caters just to that. (not that noodles are bizarre)
                                                        6)And some may genuinely think its the best thing since sliced bread.

                                                        I have nothing against the guy, the American dream, or the people who genuinely think the food is THAT good. What i do have a problem with is the overhyping of something and the steering of people on a forum towards ultimate let down. This does no service to Gene or those people. I live very close to the place and there is so little worth eating in this area (7) this is another reason i think people get excited) that i wanted nothing more to love the place...

                                                        1. re: hargau
                                                          BlakeGumprecht Aug 1, 2013 05:27 AM

                                                          Nah. That's not it. None of those reasons have anything to with why I'm willing to drive an hour to Gene's It's the noodles, pure and simple.

                                                          It doesn't give me or my 15-year old street cred (I live in Portsmouth, NH, for chrissakes), I have no relationship with Gene, there are plenty of other immigrant-owned restaurants that I also patronize and where the owners work incredibly hard. I talk about the ones I like whenever I can to whomever will listen, here and elsewhere.

                                                          Why can't you folks accept that some folks like it and some don't?There's really no arguing taste after all.

                                                          1. re: BlakeGumprecht
                                                            h
                                                            hargau Aug 1, 2013 06:02 AM

                                                            I accept it and listed it as #6 people who genuinely love the noodles. You in other posts have said you rarely eat out in Portsmouth and you drive to boston whenever you want to eat, so the idea that you drive 1hr doesnt really mean much to me.. Interesting too as a vegetarian you find it so great since now the menu is basically 1 item since every other dish but the noodle/garlic dish has some sort of meat as far as i can tell..

                                                            1. re: hargau
                                                              BlakeGumprecht Aug 1, 2013 07:29 AM

                                                              I do go to Boston often (nice to know you've been reading up on me!) but rarely just to eat out. There's zero reason to go to Chelmsford other than Gene's, though, so it is saying something that I will go out of my way to go there.

                                                              I believe the cold noodles (the ones only available on weekends) are also vegetarian.

                                                              1. re: BlakeGumprecht
                                                                t
                                                                T.B. Aug 1, 2013 12:17 PM

                                                                The weekend-only chilled noodles (#6, Chelmsford) are indeed vegetarian, as are the cold noodles (like the ones in the soup) with tea egg & veggies (#31 or #8, depending). I like that combo in hot weather.

                                                            2. re: BlakeGumprecht
                                                              Nab Aug 1, 2013 06:10 AM

                                                              There's certainly no arguing taste.

                                                              Nor should there be arguing for taste based on perceived authenticity or popularity, likewise arguing against taste based on herd hype.

                                                              1. re: Nab
                                                                BlakeGumprecht Aug 1, 2013 07:34 AM

                                                                I argued that the available evidence suggests Gene's is authentic, but that has nothing to do with why I like the noodles. Nor does the fact that many people like the restaurant. I like the hand-pulled noodles dish because it tastes good -- I love the powerful garlic-pepper topping and the chewiness of the noodles. They are addictive. Some of my favorite restaurants (and movies and books and music) aren't hip in the least, so the herd has nothing to do with it.

                                                        2. re: Dinsdale45
                                                          hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 10:42 AM

                                                          as for lowell, both simply khmer and red rose get loads of love on this board.

                                                          1. re: Dinsdale45
                                                            g
                                                            grant.cook Aug 1, 2013 01:00 PM

                                                            Now I think you have gone a bit over the top. Why doesn't a Providence restaurant get much love here? Because its probably being talked about on the Southern New England board instead. And the Lowell ethnic places, as well as places like Golden Garden get tons of mentions on Chowhound.

                                                            As for having a diverse menu, I don't care about diversity in many areas if the specialty is good. Bahn Mi joints don't offer a ton of other Vietnamese options, yet we still love 'em. Would I like more options at Gene's? Not sure - the two "regulars" on the menu I get, I'd probably still get, accompanied by a couple of delicious lamb skewers.

                                                            1. re: grant.cook
                                                              hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 02:09 PM

                                                              gene switched careers to open his place-- he's not a trained chef, so i don't see a problem with him offering a small menu. less overhead and in chelmsford he was often the only person working.

                                                              not everybody likes every place.

                                                              plenty of spots on here get love that i simply don't get. feh. i don't go back.

                                                              1. re: grant.cook
                                                                d
                                                                Dinsdale45 Aug 1, 2013 05:44 PM

                                                                C'mon man, you miss the point. I mentioned the Providence place because I posted about in in the appropriate forum (and Providence is essentially Greater Boston), and it received zero responses, because I am not a well-known Chowhound poster. If I were one of the respected mavens on here, the place might get a little love. But this is how the Gene's phenomenon began.

                                                                I take your point about a banh mi joint not offering a lot of choices, but I also don't see two separate hundred post celebratory threads on CH about Hong Cuc Sandwich shop in Lowell, either.

                                                                I might've said this before, but I wouldn't gush incessantly and recommend Not Your Average Joe's just because I like the focaccia and garlic oil dip. And if I did, I would be on the receiving end of a lot of snide remarks.

                                                              2. re: Dinsdale45
                                                                FinnFPM Aug 1, 2013 07:30 PM

                                                                I think people are missing a relatively straightforward factor in the popularity of Gene's: the biangbiang noodles are so conveniently iconic. There's a big psychological difference between a restaurant that serves 60 dishes (even if 10 of them are exceptional) and a restaurant that serves six, one of them exceptional.

                                                                Gene's has "the noodles" -- none of the praise diffuses anywhere. Ten people might say Sichuan Garden is amazing, but they might all have different things. Ten people might also say Gene's is amazing -- but the difference is that they all have the noodles. That creates something of an illusion that the noodles are the most talked-about thing in the greater Boston area.

                                                                A restaurant is something you go to. A dish is something you eat. Talk of the latter is always going to be more salient than talk of the former -- and, love the noodles or hate them, it's easier to dismiss a single dish than a single restaurant. That's why it *appears* that this board overhypes the place. There are a number of people who genuinely love the noodles. They are just as many people who genuinely love Simply Khmer. But it's easier to spot the biangbiang chatter than the Simply Khmer chatter. On the same token, if you go to Gene's and you don't like the noodles, you can comfortably dismiss "the hype." But if you go to Simply Khmer and you don't like what you get, you should be less comfortable dismissing the place wholesale, because maybe you just didn't get the right dish.

                                                                1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                  d
                                                                  Dinsdale45 Aug 2, 2013 04:12 AM

                                                                  Good point.

                                                                2. re: Dinsdale45
                                                                  c
                                                                  cambridgedoctpr Aug 5, 2013 04:07 PM

                                                                  i have not eaten at Gene's but have been to Xian's a few times. I like Xian cuisine, and I look foward to trying Gene's.

                                                                  It is a nice addition to the Boston scene to have some Xian cuisine here in Boston.

                                                                  The problem with the Lowell places is distance from Boston.

                                                                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                    g
                                                                    grant.cook Aug 6, 2013 11:31 AM

                                                                    yes, though Gene's is essentially the same distance. I work in Burlington and its still a long lunch if I head up there..

                                                                    1. re: grant.cook
                                                                      c
                                                                      cambridgedoctpr Aug 8, 2013 03:33 PM

                                                                      that is why people are excited about gene's coming to boston though i will wait until things quiet down.

                                                                      Is there a cuisine in Lowell that is not available here in Boston?

                                                                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                        Prav Aug 8, 2013 03:38 PM

                                                                        Cambodian; you're joking right?

                                                                        1. re: Prav
                                                                          c
                                                                          cambridgedoctpr Aug 8, 2013 03:53 PM

                                                                          So Thmor Da does not make Cambodian food? and there is always the watered down but still pretty good Elephant Walk.

                                                                          I have not tried Gene's but it is the only Xian restaurant in the Boston area. i plan on giving it a try when after they have had some time to stabilize things.

                                                                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                            Prav Aug 8, 2013 03:58 PM

                                                                            Didn't know Revere was Boston.

                                                                            1. re: Prav
                                                                              c
                                                                              cambridgedoctpr Aug 8, 2013 04:00 PM

                                                                              a short drive or ride on the t for those of us in cambridge/boston/etc.

                                                                              want to try some Xian's; the closest restaurant that i know about is in Manhattan.

                                                                              That is why people are excited by Gene's; I have not tried it to determine whether it is good; it is unique

                                                                  2. re: Dinsdale45
                                                                    d
                                                                    Dinsdale45 Aug 8, 2013 05:34 AM

                                                                    For those of you led to the Gold Stone thread in S. New England from this posting, I put up menu pics over there.

                                                      2. g
                                                        Gordough Jul 30, 2013 08:36 AM

                                                        Just got back from an early lunch at Gene's. I have a question re: pricing. Against my better judgment, I ordered two #3s (pork flatbread). The price on the menu is $4 each. Lady at the register said I owed $9 for two. Are they just not dealing with change and rounding everything up? Even if the total tax being charged is 10%, they are still overcharging. I don't care about the 15-20 cents but I thought it was a curious practice and thinking back, I think the same thing happened when I first went a few days after they opened. Anyone have any insight? Perhaps my math is off.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Gordough
                                                          c
                                                          calvnhobs6 Jul 30, 2013 08:45 AM

                                                          I actually was rounded up $.01. My food total was 18.40. Add 7% (6.25 state, .75 local) tax to bring total to 19.69. They rounded .01 to 19.70. No biggie for me at that time.

                                                          Rounding up to $9 seems a bit high considering the actual total after tax should have been $8.56.

                                                          1. re: calvnhobs6
                                                            h
                                                            hargau Jul 30, 2013 09:00 AM

                                                            I had never even known about the .75 meal tax till i read this...

                                                            1. re: hargau
                                                              c
                                                              calvnhobs6 Jul 30, 2013 09:28 AM

                                                              Yep, this was put into place I believe starting in 2010. Sometimes I forget and still think I'm paying 5% taxes. But that was in the before-time. The long long ago.

                                                            2. re: calvnhobs6
                                                              g
                                                              Gordough Jul 30, 2013 09:09 AM

                                                              Damn, I guess I should have said something to the cashier. Oh well, perhaps others will be more vigilant after reading my post. Really kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth and it has nothing to do with the quarter or two they stiffed me on.

                                                              1. re: calvnhobs6
                                                                FinnFPM Jul 30, 2013 10:18 AM

                                                                When Gene's started doing receipts, I noticed the $0.01 rounding with amusement.

                                                                This is an interesting observation though. I basically never look at my receipt when I purchase anything, unless I'm buying something that is heavily discounted and I want to make sure the discount is applied. So I have no recollection of what they've been charging me. Someone will have to do the heavy lifting here and go for some investigative eating.

                                                            3. n
                                                              nasilemak Jul 28, 2013 07:39 AM

                                                              Made the mistake of getting No.5 which is the spicy noodle soup with bits of pork and what looked like frozen peas and carrots. Thought that perhaps the amount of noodles used was too much. The broth was ok. (not really spicy-did they alter the broth for the downtown lunch crowd?) but disappointed that noodles were not the hand-pulled variety. Cumin lamb skewer was flavorful but a tad dry and chewy. Not sure what the hype and excitement is all about.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: nasilemak
                                                                KWagle Jul 28, 2013 09:41 PM

                                                                The hype and excitement is all about the hand pulled noodles.

                                                                Was that unclear from the 227 previous replies?

                                                                1. re: KWagle
                                                                  n
                                                                  nasilemak Jul 29, 2013 05:54 PM

                                                                  Your snide comment is uncalled for. Had no idea that i was supposed to follow the advice of Chowhounder 'experts' to the t like you or risk such remarks. The board above the register did not state that the noodle soup was made of regular non-hand pulled noodles and i was in the mood for noodle soup.

                                                                  1. re: nasilemak
                                                                    KWagle Jul 29, 2013 09:52 PM

                                                                    Many people posted about the noodle soup. It's true none of them stated literally that it doesn't use the hand-pulled noodle. But the consensus has been that it's pretty blah. And it's pretty clear from reading the threads what dishes are the standouts and why.

                                                                    At least on Asian food (as well as many other things like finding the best ice cream or fresh produce or mangoes) Chowhound is an extraordinary resource for helping you have a great meal every time, one that lives up to the hype and excitement and which you genuinely enjoy. But in order for that to happen, you actually do have to read what people have already posted.

                                                                    (The dishes that use the hand-pulled noodle do specifically mention it in the title--perhaps Gene should call the other one just "soup," or even drop it entirely.)

                                                                    1. re: KWagle
                                                                      Prav Jul 29, 2013 10:05 PM

                                                                      edited

                                                              2. 9
                                                                9lives Jul 26, 2013 06:23 PM

                                                                I stopped in for an early lunch on Thurs..11 ish.

                                                                Never been to the original in Chelmsford and was very excited to try it. 15-20 min wait which didn't bother me and the young lady explained the noodles are cooked to otder. No problem for me...might be for nearby office workers with a limited time for lunch???

                                                                To the food. Another strike against me. I think Winsor Café used to be a hand job type noodle operation...ehh.

                                                                Botttom line, I'm not a starch lover...noodles, pasta..ok.won't spit or seek it out.

                                                                With this background, I had a #9.,.cumin lamb noodles..

                                                                I loved it..cilantro, cumin,lamb...these are a few of my favorite things. While not a noodle lover, the craftsmanship of these won me over.

                                                                Wonderful addition to the area.

                                                                1 major complaint. I wish I bought a second portion for dinner cuz it would sure be nice about now..:)

                                                                1. rlh Jul 25, 2013 01:36 PM

                                                                  I was excited to get to the new location and try these noodles for the first time. The $9 hand-pulled noodles were truly outstanding in their own right.

                                                                  That said, I did not love the cumin lamb preparation - it seemed overwhelmed and unbalanced by a flood of raw (but not sweet at all) onion slices, little to no green peppers, a LOT of chili oil, and there were very fresh / tasty sprouts and cilantro. The serving was generous. Maybe they are still training the guys on how to balance the ingredients - the dish didn't do justice to the noodles.

                                                                  They are clearly working out the service kinks of serving lunch downtown - it took 52 minutes from the time I ordered until I my number was called and I was handed my noodles and two lamb skewers (with tasty hot spices but powdery dry and way overcooked - think I will stick to the "lamb teriyaki" skewers from Golden Garden in Belmont going forward) - this seemed to be the norm for waiting unless you ordered cold noodles or the pork flatbread (both of which my co-worker loved).

                                                                  The reason for the LONG wait appeared to be ONE very continuously hardworking guy hand pulling every order of noodles - not sure whether that was Gene or whether Gene was tending the broth and prep of the noodles. Hopefully they can train another person or two to do this equally well.

                                                                  The cashier was very efficient. The place was full of people standing and sitting to wait for their orders - very little eating going on inside. A few did ask for (cheerfully provided) refunds and left after 30-40 minutes

                                                                  It's only open 11a-4p and cash only with no online or phone orders being taken yet.

                                                                  The hand pulled noodles themselves were REALLY good, but until they can work it out, I think they should disclose the extreme wait when you order them, and let you choose something that's ready a bit faster or to head somewhere else that day (like China King a few blocks away for their Shanghai Chow Mein - a very worthy substitute for me in the future for housemade noodles)

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: rlh
                                                                    BostonZest Jul 26, 2013 03:51 AM

                                                                    @rlh, yesterday my #4 hand-pulled noodles were $6. was that a typo? The #9 Cumin lamb hand-pulled were $8.40. Perhaps that's the one you meant.

                                                                    Line to food was about half an hour for me around 1pm.

                                                                    Thanks to everyone who led me to this place.

                                                                    Penny
                                                                    http://www.bostonzest.com/

                                                                    1. re: BostonZest
                                                                      rlh Jul 26, 2013 07:38 AM

                                                                      Sorry for the confusion - my order was #9 which was the hand pulled noodles topped with the cumin lamb (and an additional two lamb skewers) - and pretty good value in terms of downtown lunch portion size for $9 vs. some of the small sandwiches and salads at the same price point in other spots and at some of the trucks.- sounds like our arrival at about 12:45p may have been the absolute peak waiting time yesterday - I expect it will smooth out with time (but I would not head there today unless it's pouring).

                                                                    2. re: rlh
                                                                      rlh Jan 21, 2014 11:25 AM

                                                                      I have to update this six months later - stopped in today looking for comfort food as another snow bears down and the temps are dropping.

                                                                      Gene's totally delivered on this - the pork flatbread was awesome (siracha was great condiment addition), as were the #9 cumin lamb noodles - they now had plenty of sprouts, cilantro, and carrots to balance the right amount of chili oil and the flavor-packed lamb - and the onions are cooked, almost even carmelized (HUGE improvement!) and the proportions were good all around.

                                                                      My visit took under 10 minutes and everyone was friendly (same very efficient cashier) - Gene was not visible on sight, but the guy hand pulling the noodles instead did a great job. Prices are unchanged.

                                                                      I will be back far sooner than another six months from now! Glad it's in the neighborhood!

                                                                    3. l
                                                                      lossless Jul 25, 2013 10:44 AM

                                                                      For the recent posters who went there for lunch - is it the kind of place where things would be sold out if I managed to get there around 2:30 or 3?

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: lossless
                                                                        nsenada Jul 25, 2013 10:53 AM

                                                                        Not sure - my medical condition (gluttony) doesn't allow me to eat later than 1. They definitely seemed slammed, and I was actually surprised that I got my order within about 15 minutes.

                                                                        1. re: nsenada
                                                                          l
                                                                          lossless Jul 25, 2013 11:22 AM

                                                                          Ok I'll try my luck. If unlucky, I can always try to find another Chinese restaurant somewhere nearby, God knows where...

                                                                        2. re: lossless
                                                                          g
                                                                          Gordough Jul 25, 2013 11:30 AM

                                                                          I was there at 2:15 today and it was still packed with at least a dozen people waiting for orders. You can always call them before heading over.

                                                                          1. re: lossless
                                                                            greygarious Jul 25, 2013 11:31 AM

                                                                            They are only open for lunch, so do check the hours before going.

                                                                            1. re: lossless
                                                                              l
                                                                              lossless Jul 25, 2013 12:50 PM

                                                                              Got there 2:35, no line except for 2 people waiting for their food. Had 3, 4, one lamb skewer. They were good but I think my expectations were raised too high. By the end of the meal, I started to get a bit bored of the noodles. Still planning to come back and try the other dishes.

                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                            2. c
                                                                              calvnhobs6 Jul 25, 2013 10:24 AM

                                                                              Just got back from my very first Gene's experience! I had never been able to get to the one in Chelmsford, so I was thrilled to be able to finally try it. We arrived just before the line started snaking out the door.

                                                                              We ordered the #3 Pork Flatbread ($4), the #4 Hand Pulled Noodles ($6), and the #9 Lamb Cumin noodles ($8.40).

                                                                              The #3 was a fantastic little sandwich, it basically tasted just like a concentrated pork bun on a toasted english muffin sized roll. The #4 noodles were clearly the highlight- they had so much flavor, yet not too spicy, and I absolutely devoured it. The noodles were super chewy and filling. You can order both of those, and have it only be a slightly-too-big lunch.

                                                                              On the other hand, I wasn't a big fan of the #9 noodles.There just didn't seem to be any flavor in the noodles or vegetables. The lamb itself was excellent, I would probably order the lamb skewers on their own ($1.50) next time instead.

                                                                              All in all, friendly service, they kept the line moving, a total bargain, and a clean, nice-looking, only slightly cramped space. I will be back to try the cold noodles, and scarf #s 3 & 4 again.

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: calvnhobs6
                                                                                nsenada Jul 25, 2013 10:29 AM

                                                                                Just had lunch there as well, and also got the #3 and #9. I really enjoyed both, but the #3 was really salty - I probably shoudl have seen if there was some kind of sweet condiment to squirt in there. Likewise, I wish I had thought to put some of the chili sauce in with the noodles. I though they were excellent - I loved their ginormousness, and the chew. --Dan

                                                                                1. re: calvnhobs6
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  tysonmcneely Jul 25, 2013 11:05 AM

                                                                                  Like you two, just had lunch there. We were probably all there at the same time. it took me over 30 minutes to get my food (!) my receipt said 12:58 and I left there at 1:30. I had the Soup (#5). It was good, but not as good as their other items (comparing it Chelmsford). The broth was pretty nice, a bit sour/tangy and topped with Chili oil. The noodles resembled ramen is style and size, but they didn't have the bite that their other noodles have. Also in the soup was some of their beef (good) and then some seemingly frozen vegetables (peas, corn, etc) and potatoes. I'll obviously go again, but a less packed time and probably stick to #4 or their chilled noodles.

                                                                                  1. re: calvnhobs6
                                                                                    t
                                                                                    tysonmcneely Jul 25, 2013 11:06 AM

                                                                                    hahaha.
                                                                                    Also, they've only been there for 2 days, so I don't think anyone knows. They have definitely run out of items such as the weekend cold noodles at the Chelmsford location.
                                                                                    2 might not be a bad time to go though as the wait today was brutal. (although not unexpected due to growing pains.)

                                                                                    1. re: calvnhobs6
                                                                                      g
                                                                                      Gordough Jul 25, 2013 11:28 AM

                                                                                      I just got back from there and ate my lunch. I got the pork flatbread (Number 3) and the hand pulled noodles (Number 4). It took over 30 minutes for the food to be ready and I ordered at 1:40pm. Place was packed with 95% of the customers being of Asian descent.

                                                                                      Similar to some of the other posters, I really liked the Pork Flatbread but one is probably not enough for lunch and 2 seems like too much porky goodness if that's possible.

                                                                                      The noodles were ok but nothing I would ever wait 30+ minutes for. I was talking to a guy next to me who had been waiting 40 minutes for his food at that point and they finally called his order 5 minutes later for a total of a 45 min wait.

                                                                                      I'll be back but will probably only stick to the flatbreads. By the way for those who do not like cilantro, do yourself a favor and ask for the noodles without it. My noddles had a TON of cilantro and while I don't hate it is much as others, it is not my favorite.

                                                                                      1. re: calvnhobs6
                                                                                        justbeingpolite Jul 25, 2013 01:07 PM

                                                                                        calvin, two options on that, I often get the cold noodles (#8?) with two lamb skewers and an extra tea egg, but you can also ask for the lamb cumin noodles to be made on the hand pulled noodle.

                                                                                        1. re: justbeingpolite
                                                                                          c
                                                                                          calvnhobs6 Jul 25, 2013 03:35 PM

                                                                                          Thanks for the advice! That sounds like exactly what I'm looking for.

                                                                                          It appears I had a more mild waiting experience than most. We got there at 12:10, and there were probably 10 people in line and another 5-10 waiting for food. We ordered at 12:24 (according to my receipt), and we were out of there with our food by about 12:40. Seemed okay to me, especially being the first (big) day.

                                                                                      2. nsenada Jul 25, 2013 09:06 AM

                                                                                        Aaand...packed!

                                                                                        1. m
                                                                                          mats77 Jul 25, 2013 06:16 AM

                                                                                          Cash only or CC too?

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: mats77
                                                                                            FinnFPM Jul 25, 2013 06:48 AM

                                                                                            Cash only right now, and for the next couple of weeks at least. I want to hook them up with LevelUp or something.

                                                                                          2. nsenada Jul 24, 2013 10:57 AM

                                                                                            "open" sign was lit today

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: nsenada
                                                                                              FinnFPM Jul 24, 2013 11:12 AM

                                                                                              I just got back from a #4. I can confirm they are indeed OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

                                                                                              1. re: nsenada
                                                                                                j
                                                                                                joth68 Jul 24, 2013 11:26 AM

                                                                                                #9 just did right by me. I expect this place will packed very soon.

                                                                                                1. re: joth68
                                                                                                  r
                                                                                                  rebeccact Jul 25, 2013 04:55 AM

                                                                                                  Is the menu the same as in Chelmsford?

                                                                                                  1. re: rebeccact
                                                                                                    FinnFPM Jul 25, 2013 05:39 AM

                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9060...

                                                                                                    1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                      r
                                                                                                      rebeccact Jul 25, 2013 06:33 AM

                                                                                                      Thanks-- and sorry I missed that.

                                                                                              2. SEH Jul 23, 2013 06:19 AM

                                                                                                I'm curiious, is anything on the menu vegetarian/vegan?

                                                                                                Thanks.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: SEH
                                                                                                  KWagle Jul 23, 2013 03:29 PM

                                                                                                  I'm pretty sure the hand pulled noodle is vegan.

                                                                                                2. FinnFPM Jul 22, 2013 12:03 PM

                                                                                                  Looks close over there. Here's the menu they have posted in the restaurant:

                                                                                                  Pork Flatbread (#3)
                                                                                                  Hand-Pulled Noodles (#4)
                                                                                                  House Noodle Soup (#5)
                                                                                                  Xi'An Cold Noodles (#31)
                                                                                                  Cumin Lamb (#9)

                                                                                                  Lamb Skewer
                                                                                                  Tea Egg

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                    KWagle Jul 23, 2013 05:02 AM

                                                                                                    Wait, no lamb stew with bits of flatbread? That's not good.

                                                                                                  2. c
                                                                                                    cambridgedoctpr Jul 5, 2013 08:11 AM

                                                                                                    does Gene have an estimated time when he will open in Boston?

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                                                      FinnFPM Jul 5, 2013 11:18 AM

                                                                                                      A few weeks ago, his wife told me "maybe in July," so I would guess late August early September. Haha.

                                                                                                      1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                        greygarious Jul 5, 2013 12:47 PM

                                                                                                        I think sooner. As I posted upthread, everything is set to go and he is holding off only till the staffing is up to speed. He told me he could open immediately if he wanted to. Reminder, as the OP wrote: Boston will be open only for lunch.

                                                                                                        1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                          KWagle Jul 16, 2013 06:40 PM

                                                                                                          My friends were there on Sunday and Gene says he plans to open in a week or so. The sign is up and is quite nice. The location is completely dead at 8pm, I wonder how busy it is during the day.

                                                                                                          1. re: KWagle
                                                                                                            FinnFPM Jul 17, 2013 08:20 AM

                                                                                                            Sa Pa gets a fair amount of business. They only plan on being open for lunch right now anyways.

                                                                                                    2. greygarious Jul 4, 2013 11:48 AM

                                                                                                      For the first time in many months, I went to Gene's earlier in the week. It was late afternoon and I was the only customer
                                                                                                      so Gene came out to chat as I waited for my takeout order.
                                                                                                      He had a bunch of people in the kitchen, in training for the Boston location. He is planning to spend most of his time in Boston once it opens, but is confident in the ability of the two cooks who've been in Chelmsford since he opened there 20 months ago. All is set for opening there; he's just waiting till the staff is ready.

                                                                                                      I expressed my worry that Boston will be such a success that he closes Chelmsford. He wants to keep both open and has 3 more years on the Chelms lease, with the option of two 5yr renewals. However, a neighboring business told him the owner of the property wants to sell it to someone who wants to develop 40B housing on the parcel, and both have approval to do so. The buyer has yet to finalize financing and Gene's lawyer is looking out for the cafe's interests. The sale agreement was negotiated without notifying the lessees - notice of the sale was in the newspaper. I imagine that either Gene will have the property for 3 more years or that he'll get a good chunk of money to agree to void the lease.

                                                                                                      I ordered the new lamb/noodle dish and asked to have the garlic added, which Gene said was no problem (though I have no idea if it would be an imposition when they are busy). It was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! I am a devotee of the #4 but this takes it over the top.

                                                                                                      Also, I was happy to notice that the seating area is decently air-conditioned - although Gene said it was 120F in the kitchen and it's a miracle to me that he is still as cheerful as ever.

                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                        FinnFPM Jul 5, 2013 05:46 AM

                                                                                                        Thanks for the awesomely detailed but wholly depressing report. Writing seems to be on the wall. Really tough to stop affordable housing plans. Between the very bearish outlooks on both Woo Jung and Gene's, and the basically sure-thing development of a Market Basket at the new mixed-use site in Littleton that chunk of 495 is looking lame.

                                                                                                        1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                          hargau Jul 5, 2013 07:41 AM

                                                                                                          what is happening to woo jung??
                                                                                                          Market Basket in littleton? First i have heard of that, seems odd with the 2 already in westford, plus a new one in hudson.

                                                                                                          1. re: hargau
                                                                                                            FinnFPM Jul 5, 2013 08:03 AM

                                                                                                            Someone posted in the June openings/closings thread that the owners are retiring soon and the children have no interest in taking over the restaurant, so they're just going to close it when they're done with it.

                                                                                                            And yes, MB will be going in at "The Point" which is a planned development right off 495 at the old Cisco site (495 Great Road). It is odd/crappy, with the MB right down the road in Westford, but they're apparently being very aggressive with their locations in the region.

                                                                                                            There won't always be the 2 in Westford. Whole Foods is taking over the old one when the lease expires, but that is a couple years out.

                                                                                                            1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                              hargau Jul 5, 2013 08:21 AM

                                                                                                              hmmm bummer. We just ate there about 2 weeks ago.

                                                                                                              495 great road shows as being in acton.. Not sure where cisco was in littleton..

                                                                                                              1. re: hargau
                                                                                                                FinnFPM Jul 5, 2013 11:17 AM

                                                                                                                http://www.littletonma.org/content/12...

                                                                                                                1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                  hargau Jul 5, 2013 11:21 AM

                                                                                                                  thanks! I was wondering about that area.. They made a nicely paved / landscaped road with lamp posts years ago, that lead nowhere. then lately they have been moving a lot of dirt around..

                                                                                                                  1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                    p
                                                                                                                    poundcake Jul 5, 2013 11:32 AM

                                                                                                                    Where are you getting the info about Market Basket coming in? Are other restaurants or shops confirmed?

                                                                                                                    1. re: poundcake
                                                                                                                      FinnFPM Jul 5, 2013 02:02 PM

                                                                                                                      Nothing's been announced but I'd heard multiple rumors about the developer's very cozy relationship with the Market Basket folks, and so I asked a manager at the Westford MB last weekend if there was a Littleton MB in the works. She said yes, and that the Westford employees who live in Littleton are all angling to be in line to transfer there when it opens.

                                                                                                        2. FinnFPM Jun 22, 2013 03:57 PM

                                                                                                          I was in there today and asked Gene's wife. It is in fact the old Burritos Express location.

                                                                                                          1. greygarious Jun 21, 2013 10:05 AM

                                                                                                            The latest responses suggest that Gene's noodles may be going the route of Kirgilnix. I love them, so I disagree with the dissenters.

                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                              d
                                                                                                              Dinsdale45 Jun 21, 2013 11:36 AM

                                                                                                              I had to look up the reference. Funny post. But these disenters have always dissented. The ones you have to watch out for are the ones who love the place then decide it's worthless when the next exotic shiny thing comes along.

                                                                                                              1. re: Dinsdale45
                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                hargau Jun 21, 2013 12:19 PM

                                                                                                                exactly... There are certain people i think who like things just cause they are new/exciting/different.. I sometimes think i could sell a scoop of vanilla ice cream with 6 tablespoons of raw garlic on top and there will be a group of "foodies" who rave about it!

                                                                                                                1. re: hargau
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                                                                                                                  bear Jun 21, 2013 12:57 PM

                                                                                                                  When are you opening?

                                                                                                                  1. re: bear
                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                    hargau Jun 21, 2013 01:07 PM

                                                                                                                    Im starting a kickstarter campaign soon!

                                                                                                                    1. re: hargau
                                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                                      bear Jun 21, 2013 01:08 PM

                                                                                                                      Count me in!

                                                                                                                  2. re: hargau
                                                                                                                    FinnFPM Jun 22, 2013 10:34 AM

                                                                                                                    I'm going to make this an eat it, just to spite the sentiment.

                                                                                                                    1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                                      hargau Jun 22, 2013 12:18 PM

                                                                                                                      you can try but it wont be the same cause i have a "nice touch" with the scooper

                                                                                                                      1. re: hargau
                                                                                                                        hotoynoodle Jun 22, 2013 04:18 PM

                                                                                                                        http://openroad.tv/blog/wp-content/up...

                                                                                                                        it's all been done.

                                                                                                                    2. re: hargau
                                                                                                                      lipoff Jun 25, 2013 07:14 AM

                                                                                                                      Sounds like the garlic ice cream I had in Gilroy CA last summer!

                                                                                                                2. h
                                                                                                                  hargau Jun 20, 2013 04:33 AM

                                                                                                                  I am still curious what all the hoopla is over this place.. I tried it only once but must have missed something.. We tried both flat bread sandwiches, found that they tasted stale and had bland meat dripping with grease in them..

                                                                                                                  Then we tried the house soup that had tasty noodles but contained green giant type veggie mix which we found very weird. The broth itself just seemed like hot water with oil floating on it, very tiny bit of meat..

                                                                                                                  Lastly we tried the hand pulled noodles and again the noodle was interesting maybe a bit too chewy for our tastes and yea it was a great novelty that it was one big noodle, but the sauce wasnt very appealing.. seemed like chili oil/crushed chili straight from the bottle and wayyy too much raw garlic, the type that come crushed in the bottle.. the sauces at any of the sichuan restaurants are far more appealing we thought..

                                                                                                                  I feel like i am from another planet though after reading all the raves on here and not one other person who feels this way!?

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: hargau
                                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                                    Dinsdale45 Jun 21, 2013 06:47 AM

                                                                                                                    You are not alone. As much as I want to support Gene's and wish him success, chewy garlicy noodles and tiny lamb skewers aren't enough to draw me there. The bread for the sandwiches is cold and dry, the lamb stew has a few sinewy bits of meat, there's one dish containing veggies, the other soup is like Campbell's chunky with oil and 5-pice powder, the cold noodles are meh...I don't get the raves. Hell, I happen to like the focaccia and dipping oil at Not Your Average Joe's, but that doesn't make me swoon over the place and write 5-star reviews.

                                                                                                                    1. re: hargau
                                                                                                                      Nab Jun 21, 2013 08:53 AM

                                                                                                                      It's a cool place with all the elements of chowhound charm. Gene is a heckuva personality, the cuisine is unique and novel for Boston, and of course hand pulled/ripped/cut noodles gets everybody excited these days. My experience mirrors yours. The green giant vegetable medley was off-putting and the broth (chicken) was watery with a few droplets of oil and vinegar, though I did enjoy the spaghetti. The hand-pulled noodles made for good rappelling but I must confess to being a sucker for that ultra simple chile oil garlic bomb sauce.

                                                                                                                      1. re: hargau
                                                                                                                        mjg0725 Jun 21, 2013 05:35 PM

                                                                                                                        Been addicted to his noodles since day one. Nothing else like them around here. Love the fact that he finally got a noodle dish with Lamb & veggies in it too. Never had his soup, hate soups for the most part.

                                                                                                                        As for some of the dissenter's issues. I am not here to change your mind, I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion and tastes. However, the kitchen Gene works with is the size of a shoe box in case you have not noticed. One of the main issues he has is the small amount of the refrigerator space. He tried to rent space from the consignment shop next door to put in a double door fridge, but they did not want to give up the space. In order to be able to fit his last noodle masterpiece onto the menu, he needed to get rid of most of the Americanized Chinese dishes he served.

                                                                                                                        I am sure he is able to expand his menu and I sure hope he does in the future, but I am very happy just having a cuisine like this within striking distance.

                                                                                                                      2. lipoff Jun 19, 2013 07:00 PM

                                                                                                                        Best news ever! =)

                                                                                                                        1. sheila Jun 19, 2013 07:25 AM

                                                                                                                          Yay!!!!

                                                                                                                          1. divinebaboon Jun 19, 2013 02:23 AM

                                                                                                                            This joint reminds me of Xi'an Famous Foods in NYC, in a good way. Can't wait, hopefully it won't disappoint.

                                                                                                                            1. KWagle Jun 19, 2013 02:12 AM

                                                                                                                              I wish him the best of luck, but I'm skeptical that such a small operation can be expanded safely. And, I don't think "infamous" is the right word for those noodles.

                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: KWagle
                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                cambridgedoctpr Jun 19, 2013 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                well, they certainly have cloned Xian's multiple times, and the results have been great.

                                                                                                                                I would limit the menu though.

                                                                                                                                Anyone try Xian's and Gene's?

                                                                                                                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                  hargau Jun 19, 2013 01:35 PM

                                                                                                                                  You would limit a menu of 9 items?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr
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                                                                                                                                    ColoradoXJ13 Jun 19, 2013 01:56 PM

                                                                                                                                    I've had both, twice each. I like the noodles better at Gene's, they are truly hand pulled, and much thicker and chewier than Xian's which seem to be machine made (I'm not certain) but they are more uniform. I prefer the sauce/lamb that Xian puts on the noodles over the garlic/chili that Gene's uses, not that I would skip Gene's for any reason, I just don't love the load of raw garlic. Now as the post above states, Gene may have a new dish with the cumin lamb on his hand pulled noodles...that sounds delicious. Need to get up there again soon.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ColoradoXJ13
                                                                                                                                      lipoff Jun 19, 2013 07:13 PM

                                                                                                                                      I've been to both as well many times. I would say that Gene's is my preference over all --- the noodles and yang rou pao mo (the lamb stew with bread bits) are better at Gene's, and the lamb skewers are the best I've had, including in China. On the other hand, the rou jia mo (the "burgers") are significantly better at Xi'an famous foods. Xi'an Famous Foods has a larger menu, with more vegetables, including a terrific spicy salad, and always has the liang pi cold noodles available. Having been to Xi'an and neighboring regions in China, I can assure you that both Xi'an Famous Foods and Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe are the real deal. In addition to the various XFF locations, they also have a restaurant, Biang, in Flushing. Biang has some interesting dishes and lots of skewers, but the noodles are not in the same league as Gene's.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: lipoff
                                                                                                                                        KWagle Jun 22, 2013 12:58 AM

                                                                                                                                        I went back tonight for the first time since last April :-( and was amazed that the woman at the counter (Gene's wife?) remembered me (where I had come from) after a year and a single visit.

                                                                                                                                        I drove up to try the lamb noodles. They were amazingly good--the noodle even more wonderful than I remembered, and the lamb, onions and cilantro went well together--milder and rounder in flavor than the chili-oil and garlic version, but also much more expensive, almost twice the price. (I have to admit thinking it was a bit overpriced compared to the other one.) The slices of lamb were a bit on the large side, but thin and tender and thus easy to eat. But the noodle was really the standout here.

                                                                                                                                        I also had four of the tiny lamb skewers, and while they're tiny I have to concur with Sam's opinion--they're really damn good. I mentioned that Sam liked them better than the ones he'd had in China, and Gene said some of his Shaanxi student customers say the same thing. He attributes it to being able to get better ingredients at lower prices.

                                                                                                                                        Several tables had the chicken stew with hand pulled noodles, which looked quite interesting. Gene said that the smallest order would serve five, and considering the size of the plates, I can believe that.

                                                                                                                                        I still haven't had the liang pi, but maybe I'll drive up tomorrow for that... and Sunday for more of the hand pulled noodles.

                                                                                                                                        They have a web site, which i didn't know about until now.

                                                                                                                                        http://genescafe.com/

                                                                                                                                      2. re: ColoradoXJ13
                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                        cambridgedoctpr Jun 20, 2013 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                        btw, i have seen them hand pulling the noodles at Xian's in their southern Manhattan location.

                                                                                                                                      3. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                                                                                        FinnFPM Jun 20, 2013 08:06 AM

                                                                                                                                        I'm a bigger fan of Gene's as well. XFFs' dishes are hotter and spicier, whereas Gene's are decidedly more garlicky. The flavors at XFF are more complex, but the flavors at Gene's I find to simply be more enjoyable.

                                                                                                                                        Nothing at Gene's is truly spicy, and it'd be interesting to see what he could do with a hot dish. Gene's has basically totally changed my palate. I'm crazy about that style of food now.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                                          greygarious Jun 20, 2013 10:27 AM

                                                                                                                                          The special chicken dish that we had at the Chowdown is not on the menu, and is a LOT spicier. I have also seen it being served to the groups of Asian students who drive there from Worcester. It's a large platter that demands at least 6 people.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                                                            FinnFPM Jun 20, 2013 11:40 AM

                                                                                                                                            Ah. I forgot about this dish. I've yet to be in a position to try it, so didn't realize it was spicy. Good tip.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                                            lipoff Jun 25, 2013 04:33 AM

                                                                                                                                            At Gene's there are small glass jars of la4 jiang4 (thick chili paste) on the counter that you can take your table. Different regions of China have different typical styles of la4 jiang4. Wang's in Somerville has an excellent one on their tables, which has crushed red peppers in a thick red pepper oil. However, the one at Gene's is quite different, and typical of Shaanxi province. It's thicker and much drier, with a different mix of peppers. It's not in-your-face spicy like that in many Sichuan restaurants, but if you put enough in, it'll definitely make things spicy. Note that this different than the wetter, redder and more one-note spicy sauce provided with the hand-pulled noodles in a small container. I recommend both of them.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: lipoff
                                                                                                                                              justbeingpolite Jun 25, 2013 05:12 AM

                                                                                                                                              Gene told me that the thick sauce is the leftover after he makes the chili oil that is served on the dishes. I love it. It's great to put on your plate and dip the lamb skewers in.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: justbeingpolite
                                                                                                                                                FinnFPM Jun 25, 2013 06:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                I've never had the chili paste -- I assumed it was just storebought stuff, but now that I know they make it, I will. Thanks for the tips.

                                                                                                                                                I wish you could just order some of the flatbreads to spread that stuff on. I don't want to add anything to the #4, it's too perfect IMO. I'll add it to the cold noodles next time I get those.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: FinnFPM
                                                                                                                                                  hotoynoodle Jun 25, 2013 06:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                  yup. it definitely kicked the cold noodles up a notch.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: lipoff
                                                                                                                                                KWagle Jun 25, 2013 06:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                WHY did you not mention this until after I made two visits in three days. :-(

                                                                                                                                        2. Luther Jun 18, 2013 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                                          Wow, looks like he beat Xian Famous to Boston!

                                                                                                                                          1. tatsu Jun 18, 2013 11:29 AM

                                                                                                                                            It's a pretty tucked away, a bit isolated due to the huge State Street building, the Hyatt, and that brick building that I always wonder what it was (electricity station?) but I'm sure he'll do ok. Well, this place is reported as closed, http://www.yelp.com/biz/hot-tomatoes-..., 92 Bedford St.

                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: tatsu
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                                                                                                                                              mats77 Jun 18, 2013 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                                              SaPa is currently in the old Hot Tomatoes spot. Are they throwing in the towel already? Perhaps the former Burrito Express spot?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mats77
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                                                                                                                                                9lives Jun 18, 2013 12:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                Sa Pa is still in the old Hot Tomatoes spot. Vietnamese from the Kingston Station owner.

                                                                                                                                                The old Burrito Express and the next door Clement Textile are papered over. Burrito Express (which I really liked) is a pretty small space. Maybe Gene's Flatbread will take both spaces??

                                                                                                                                                Great news for people that live/work in DTX or Financial District.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: 9lives
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                                                                                                                                                  mkfisher Jun 18, 2013 12:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I'd be curious if it is this spot. I know the Burrito Express(which I also really liked) folks had some issues with the alley back there. Lots of drug use/other shady stuff from the shelter on Kingston St.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mkfisher
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                                                                                                                                                    9lives Jun 18, 2013 01:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I'm just guessing on the spot.

                                                                                                                                                    I had heard about that "alley issue" from Burrito Express.

                                                                                                                                                    I think if rats and drug use in alleys behind restaurants were that big an issue, there'd be a lot of closed restaurants around town..:)

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: 9lives
                                                                                                                                                    FinnFPM Jun 19, 2013 09:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                    I jumped up and peered in the windows of the old textile place today -- there were a couple of guys milling around in there, and some plug-in refridgerator equipment, but no kitchen hookups visible. I don't think it could be a joint space, since there's an alleyway separating the buildings.

                                                                                                                                                    The smart money is on Burritos Express since per mjg0725, Gene said the space is all ready to go and the old textile spot is certifiably not ready for much of anything.

                                                                                                                                              2. greygarious Jun 18, 2013 10:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                This could be bad news for the Merrimack Valley area, as I can envision the next step being the closure of Chelmsford.
                                                                                                                                                I wish he were moving to someplace midway, accessible via the T for the benefit of the carless.....like Arlington/Somerville/Medford/Newton.

                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                                                                  Chris VR Jun 18, 2013 11:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                  I was thinking the same thing. Plus, how he is going to be SLAMMED in Boston. Good for him though!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                                                                    mjg0725 Jun 18, 2013 11:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                    I sure hope not Grey, but you never know. His wife is stopping her full time gig for this expansion, so I am sure they are hoping both are highly profitable. They plan to split the duty at each of the locations. He is confident that his current chef in Chelmsford can handle it too. Let think positive and hope there is enough business for both the locations to thrive.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                                                                      t
                                                                                                                                                      T.B. Jun 20, 2013 10:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                      I share that fear. Chelmsford, although not exactly convenient, is easier for me to get to than Downtown Crossing, as are most of the other towns you list. But if that's where he found a spot, I hope it works out and doesn't turn into a repeat of what happened when Floating Rock moved out of Revere. (And there they got a good local replacement for the cuisine; I somehow doubt the next resto in the Chelmsford location would be Xi'anese.)

                                                                                                                                                      I did notice that my most recent order was ready very quickly despite them being slammed, and that Gene was spending his time behind the counter and not in the kitchen, so it looks like he has more and better-trained staff now. I'll keep my fingers crossed and enjoy those noodles while I can.

                                                                                                                                                    2. c
                                                                                                                                                      cocoabrioche Jun 18, 2013 10:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!! It's a hike to either location, but I get to Boston more often (plus could hit Union Square Donuts on my way home, if they aren't sold out!). Great news!

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cocoabrioche
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                                                                                                                                                        mgerstenblatt Jul 25, 2013 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Ha--I went there today for lunch and followed them up with a 1/2 dozen donut holes from Union Square Donuts.

                                                                                                                                                        Lunch was great. The place was packed by 1145am!

                                                                                                                                                      2. t
                                                                                                                                                        tysonmcneely Jun 18, 2013 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Great, now everyone in my office is looking at me, wondering why I shouted and then did a back flip.

                                                                                                                                                        1. g
                                                                                                                                                          gourmaniac Jun 18, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                          excellent news.

                                                                                                                                                          1. r
                                                                                                                                                            rebeccact Jun 18, 2013 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                            THIS IS SO EXCITING.

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