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Best Chinese w/ good decor

I'm looking also for a good Chinese restaurant that is somewhat on the fancier side. Nice decor is a must. Price is less of a concern. The closer to the Pru, the better.

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  1. How authentic do you want your Chinese to be? There's a PF Chang's in the Pru. Most good Chinese restaurants aren't super close to the Pru. How far are you willing to travel? Something like Shojo in Chinatown could work well for your needs.

    5 Replies
      1. re: addiez

        Not too far and authenticity does matter. If anyone knows of a restaurant that has "made to order" not necessarily on the menu items, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

        1. re: jkpavel

          Unfortunately, you're asking for three things that don't go together easily. The more 'authentic' Chinese places in and around Boston don't tend to be fancy, and 'authentic' Chinese food does not exist in the immediate vicinity of the Pru (for reference: my 'immediate vicinity' = 15 minutes' walk).

          Chinatown would absolutely be your best bet overall for non-Americanized Chinese food, and it's two stops away on the Orange Line (train) or about 10-15 minutes by cab, traffic permitting. (I'd recommend not driving yourself: parking is expensive and can be hard to find even in lots, especially on weekend nights.)

          Again, though, you're going to run into the authentic vs posh issue. I haven't been to Shojo, but the menu veers well into pan-Asian territory and it's not where I'd go if I were looking for Chinese food specifically. Q Hot Pot is supposed to be great too and the decor's good (more trendy than classically fancy, but still feels like A Night Out), but if you don't like hot pot I'm not sure you'd have much else to choose from.

          Outside of Chinatown, Sichuan Gourmet in Brookline does excellent Sichuan food, but the tip is usually to avoid the non-Sichuan dishes, which could present a problem if anyone in your party has a spice aversion. The decor is... fine. It's clean and comfortable, clearly a restaurant and not a cafe or diner, but you're not going to see it in 'Architectural Digest' anytime soon. On the other hand, if you're looking at anything other than the massive heap of dan dan noodles in front of you, then you're doing it wrong.

          For mine, I'd chuck all considerations of decor and focus on finding the best Boston's Chinese specialties (seafood, Sichuan, and more recently dumplings). I'd rather eat good food on an ugly chair than average food on a gold throne. But your priorities are your own, and if on the night it's more important to look impressive than to taste impressive, that's totally your call. Unfortunately, I think you're going to need to decide on what's most important to you for that meal, because I don't think Boston's going to be able to grant your three wishes all in one restaurant.

          Final thought: would you be amenable to a less-fancy dining experience if you followed it with a dessert or drink somewhere posh afterwards? That, I reckon, we could do.

          1. re: TimTamGirl

            " I'd rather eat good food on an ugly chair than average food on a gold throne."

            Well-said, ma'am!

            1. re: eatinjeff

              Quite agree. I'd rather bring clients to ICOB or Row 34 than Legal, or to just about any local independent than a high-end chain steakhouse, but sometimes you don't have the luxury of choice.


      2. Are you there to eat or look at the walls?

        1. Golden Temple in Brookline does high-quality American Chinese food, with occasional toe-dips into less Americanized stuff as well. It's not especially close to the Pru but I reckon it'd only be about 15 minutes in a car/cab if the traffic's not bad, and they have valet parking.

          There's also Myers + Chang in the South End, which is geographically closer but would still probably require a car unless you're up for a good walk - it wouldn't be easy to get there on public transportation. I'd say it's less Americanized overall, but it's also less specifically Chinese and more pan-Asian.

          Both places have strong bar selections and are lovely inside, and both have good labeling and options for vegetarians and people with allergies.

          1. My two suggestions would be in Chinatown too. Either the Peach Farm or East Ocean City. Neither are fancy places although East Ocean has slightly nicer decor than the Peach Farm but both have very authentic food and feature a lot live seafood taken from tanks in the restaurants. My hands down favorite dish (although very expensive) is the Alaskan King Crab with Salt and Chilli Pepper. The crabs are quickly flashed fried (no batter) and then tossed with salt and red chilli pepper. The combination of the sweet crab and that salt and pepper is amazing. A large crab can easily be shared with 6 or more people as a part of a multi course dinner. They also do great steamed fish, clams with black bean sauce and a very good geoduck clam sashimi.

            3 Replies
            1. re: RoyRon

              While I haven't been for a while I recall at one point that New Shanghai was a bit fancier than most Chinatown restaurants (e.g., tablecloths, decor). Maybe someone who has been there most recently could confirm/dispute.

              1. re: FoodTruth

                Yes, New Shanghai has decor that's a step up from Peach Farm with still excellent food. If decor is the primary concern, I wouldn't recommend Peach Farm.

                1. re: VintageMolly

                  If decor trumps the food, or is at least as important, they should avoid Peach Farm.

                  The Dumpling Cafe on Washington St. has delicious food, and the "decor" is maybe a half step above Peach Farm. Certainly the bathrooms are somewhat nicer.

            2. Not so close to the Pru, but East by Northeast in Cambridge is good and nice, although more modern. Same for Mei Mei on Boston/Brookline border.

              1. It's not near the Pru, but adding to the 'nice decor' thread, I'd suggest Chang Sho in Cambridge. Some of the better Chinese-American food in the area, too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  Little Q on Washington Street is either a long walk or a short cab ride and both the food and the bar are good. Szichuan Gourmet is a short ride on the Green line to Brookline. Myers and Chang is another long walk or short taxi ride from the Pru. I can't think of good Chinese anywhere close to the Pru though Chinatown is not that far and I'd second the suggestion of New Shanghai there. Frankly, the best Chinese food is in Allston at Shanghai Gate or JoJo Taipei.

                2. I'd go with Q, Myers and Chang or Shojo.

                  1. Lot of good info here.

                    As a general rule, the most authentic Chinese don't offer much in decor.

                    I'm a huge fan of New shanghai, but I'll borrow a term used elsewhere. It won't be in a spread in Architectural Digest..cut above most of CTown, but far from the fancier side.

                    East Ocean City has a nice room, great fresh tank seafood..white tablecloth but again, no AD spread.

                    If the room and ambience are important, I think I'd strongly consider going to Meyers & Chang, very good pan Asian in a nice room and a short cab or ambitious walk from Pru.

                    Another option would be Shojo. I've been but haven't eaten there. Hve mostly heard good things about the food. Decor would meet your needs. I think it's where I'd go, given your inquiry.

                    Eta, I like Little Q, also, nice room. I think the menu is mostly hot pot or sushi so check website to be sure that you'll be happy with menu.

                    1. I'd add another vote for New Shanghai for a good combination of authentic food in a decent setting (white tablecloths, far from a dive). A nice meal for two would be:

                      - Any Szechuan fish dish (boiled fish & red pepper bean sprouts; fish with spicy bean sauce; dry spicy fish; family-style whole fish-- I've enjoyed all of these)

                      -Bean curd with black mushrooms and bamboo shoots (sweet and cooling; feels great on the tongue if you get a fish dish with Szechuan peppers)

                      -Rice cakes (the Chinese ones, not the ones labeled "Korean style"; these are some of the best rice cakes in town).

                      I've been going here every other month or so for a few years and I've always liked it, but I've actually noticed an increase in quality this year, across the board-- could just be in my head, but it seems that way!

                      1. Agree that traditional Chinese places are rarely fancy. While I like the suggestion, the Chinatown one is called simply Q Restaurant; Little Q was its Quincy ancestor. Very good hotpot, swank surroundings by neighborhood standards, full liquor.

                        New Shanghai might be the only place in Chinatown that does white tablecloths, but it is actually very good, a nice mix of Beijing/Shandong and Sichuan cuisine, and it too has a rare full liquor license.

                        Also love the Shojo and Myers & Chang recs: both are pan-Asian and not traditional, but have atmosphere, charm, and good service. Shojo has terrific craft cocktails, to boot; M&C does a few "cordial"-based cocktails, but is better for its well-chosen beer, wine and sake.

                        I'm a fan of Peach Farm's food, but its bare-bones basement decor is just short of grim.


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          every time i go downstairs to peach farm i expect to see guys smoking cigarettes and playing poker.

                        2. Shanghai Gate looks perfectly nice inside, is steps away from the Harvard Avenue stop on the B line, and has the distinct advantage of being the best Chinese restaurant in Boston.

                          1. Taiwan Cafe remodeled a while back and is pretty nice inside, though it's still clearly a place you go to eat good food, not to admire the furniture. And Winsor Cafe is pretty plain, but not uninviting like some of the other great places we go.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: KWagle

                              I like winsor but i certainly wouldnt classify it as having decent decor or being upscale.. It is small, cramped and often smells of the bathrooms which are about the size of phone booths and practically in the kitchen. Doesnt sound like what this poster is looking for.. I think pf changs or golden temple is more what they are looking.. Too bad weylus is gone, that would have been PERFECT for them.

                            2. Know you're looking for close to the Pru, but for pleasant decor, my vote goes to the new Dumpling House in Cambridge at 950 Massahusetts Avenue.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Taralli

                                Agreed—the new Dumpling House in Cambridge is a lovely space, with non-crowded seating and excellent food.