HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Finally, Mary Chung: order what?

Somehow, after 15 years of eating across Boston, I've never made it to Mary Chung. What are the classic dishes there?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Suan la chow show, grandma's pie (a frequent special), pan-fried Peking ravioli, and dun dun noodles (maybe with chicken) are the standards.

    I also recommend something yu shiang (shredded pork, or chicken with green beans), chicken velvet shrimp soup, trotters (a less-frequent special), hot stuffed eggplant, and peapod shoots.

    A friend once ordered the crab rangoon here. I was surprised that they were nice and not disgusting at all.


    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      I was also surprised by the crab rangoon. Usually I find those unpleasant, but I ended up filching several when someone else ordered them. Not greasy at all.

    2. Thanks, Slim. I was hoping you'd chime in all concise like that!

      4 Replies
      1. re: newhound

        Happy to help! Mary Chung won't make you forget more traditional Taiwanese or Sichuan places, but it hoes its own little row nicely anyway. And the t-shirts are awesome.


        1. re: MC Slim JB

          IMO if one considers MC to be it's own style of chinese it's a healthier view point than trying to shoehorn it into a comparison w/ one of the more authentic cuisines. They really have their own flavor profile which I've not really seen elsewhere.

          1. re: jgg13

            Quite agree, and I'm a longtime fan, despite generally favoring more traditional styles; just trying to set expectations.


            1. re: jgg13

              I like their weekend dimsum scallion pie the best. As for it's own style, it is indeed. The closest I've come to Mary Chung's dishes is in Taiwan. Sorry to say but the equivalent dishes in Taiwan are much better in Taiwan.

        2. Seconding suan la chow show and dun dun noodles; they're the canonical Mary's dishes. When I worked in Central Square I got the "suans" for lunch once a week and never tired of them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dfan

            So cool!: googling a bit brought up the info that MC worked at Colleen's long ago, where she learned the Suan la chow show (like the Hunan Palace chef/owners who worked at Joyce Chen's long ago and learned the Strange Flavor Chicken) and an MIT fan came up with this back in 1990, but looks like some tinkering is in order to get them as special as MC's are now:

            <OK, OK. Here's Colleen's recipe for Swans. This comes by way of a friend who took her cooking class several years ago. I tried this recipe recently, and while I got something that resembled swans, they just weren't the same. I'll have to figure out what needs changing. -Mark

            SUAN LA CHOW SHOW


            2 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
            4 Tbsp Water
            1 tsp Vinegar
            1 Tbsp chopped Garlic
            1/2 Tbsp minced Ginger
            1 tsp Hot Oil or Hot Oil Paste
            Dash of White Pepper

            Combine all ingredients. Make sauce a day ahead of time to allow
            taste to blend. If you want to double the portion, DO NOT ADD
            additional Garlic, Ginger or Hot Oil.


            2 1/2 cups White Flour
            3/4 cup Hot Water
            1/4 cup Cold Water

            Stir hot water and flour together with chopsticks. Add cold water and
            work dough with fingers. Roll dough into a ball and cover with damp
            cloth or plastic. Leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
            Knead the dough again for approx 10 minutes. Form it into a long roll
            about 1 inch in diameter. Cut it into 20 to 24 small pieces. Press
            each one flat with the palm of your hand. Roll it out thin.


            1 lb ground pork or beef
            1/2 to 1 lb Chinese Cabbage
            3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
            2 Tbsp Wine
            2 Tbsp Oil
            2 tsp Salt
            1 tsp Sesame Oil
            2 Tbsp chopped Scallion
            1/2 tsp minced ginger
            1 egg
            Dash of White Pepper
            Bean sprouts

            Boil a large pot of water. Mix together everything but the cabbage in
            a bowl. When water starts to boil, add cabbage. Turn off heat and
            let cabbage soak for approx. 2 minutes. Rinse cabbage in cold water
            and squeeze out excessive water. Chop cabbage finely and squeeze
            again. Sprinkle a dash of salt onto cabbage and stir it into the meat

            Boil another large pot of water. Wrap filling in skins, and drop
            wontons inside boiling water and wait. When it starts to bubble, pour
            in 1/2 cup of cold water and wait for it to boil again. When it does,
            repeat with another 1/2 cup of cold water. The enxt time it starts to
            boil, the wontons that are floating on top should be done. Scoop them
            out and rinse under cold water.

            Serve wontons over bean sprouts topped with sauce.>

          2. I like a nice dish of whatever sauteed greens they're making- usually water spinach or pea tendrils. Makes me feel more healthy while stuffing myself on the dishes everyone else has suggested.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Parsnipity

              I try to pick one items from the specials board upfront. I recall an asparagus dish that made me wish it was always on the menu.

              Dun Dun noodles, spicy green beans, and the pan fried ravioli are choices when I'm with have a group.


            2. Along w/ the SLCS, dun dun noodles & grandma's pie, another favorite of mine is something like "fried chicken with yu shiang sauce and spicy salt". It's pieces of fried chicken, a bowl of yu shiang sauce and a little dish of a salt/spice mixture (definitely white pepper, not sure what else). Dip in sauce then in salt and pop in your mouth.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jgg13

                Two more items that I really dig are the hot & sour soup w/ wonton and there's a cold/spicy cabbage appetizer, I forget the name.

                Also while I'm not generally a huge fan of The General, their version is much better than usual.

              2. Pig feet with soup noodles is good.

                1. Since you will prob order a number of items, i would advise her more unique dishes. I recently did my own CH-crawl for peking ravs, crab rangoon and hot 'n sour soup.If you dine at Winsor,imo you can skip M Chung's pek ravs because Winsor's are so superior to M Chung's and to all the others i have had.

                  the dish that she does that i just love is the small dish of large triangles of fried soft tofu with a sweet chicken stock sauce and slivered ginger. man, i could live on it!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Not only do I disagree with you on the "pek ravs", but your comparison is silly. Not many people are eating at both of those places in a row.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      What is it with the assumptions? who said anything about eating at both places 'in a row' ? i simply thought that, if the OP was trying to make choices at MC, AND if they often ate Winsor's pek ravs, then they could skip MC's pek ravs (maybe get the similar but unique signature Suan la chow show instead.) Certainly no malice intended, so i don't understand JO's or yours.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        The only assumption I see anyone making is that the OP only ever wants to eat the very finest version available of any given dish.

                        Given that the OP is asking specifically for recommendations of specific dishes to try at this specific restaurant, it matters not that that a different restaurant several miles away across the river has a better version of something. There's a big difference between saying that Mary Chung's Peking ravioli are just okay and there are better things on the menu and saying "you can skip M Chung's pek ravs because Winsor's are so superior to M Chung's and to all the others i have had."

                    2. re: opinionatedchef

                      The concept that you can never order a dish at one restaurant because it's better at another restaurant is inherently silly.

                    3. This is a really special place - you're in for a treat.

                      As mentioned already, standouts include a lot of dumplings: suan la chou show, fried Peking ravioli, pork and chive, and the small steamer buns (weekend dim sum menu only). The scallion pancakes are very good, too, and are served with the same spicy, garlic-heavy sauce as the pkr.

                      Other favorites are dun-dun noodles, Chinese romaine, Chinese broccoli, Szechuan spicy chicken with celery and carrot, chicken with basil pot (lots of ginger in this), beef with scallions and Chung's spicy bean curd. My SO, who has a high tolerance for fat, sodium and five-spice powder, is a fan of the hung shao pig's feet and the beef soup noodle, though only in colder weather and when he has time to be physically immobilized for a few hours after (no joke).

                      My favorite way to eat here is to order a stir-fried green (love the Chinese romaine most of all), a small brown rice and a boatload of dumplings.

                      Hope you love it!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: pocketviking

                        pv, this is the first i've heard of chinese romaine; never had it that i know of. What's it like? anything close to baby bok choy in crunchiness and flavor? And is the chicken w/ basil a sliced white meat w/ thai basil and vegs? So many dishes i've never tried.....

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          Chinese romaine has some crunch, lots of water - fresh, clean flavor, no hint of sulfur/cabbage. The chicken with basil in a pot has chunks of both white & dark meat with an almost equal amount of thickly sliced ginger. Not sure if the basil is Thai.

                      2. I agree with what's already been mentioned, but wanted to add another weekend-only favorite of mine: the steamed rice pearls. Juicy little pork meatballs gently swaddled in glutinous rice. Love it.

                        Don't forget to bring cash!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: ararebit

                          Am looking forward to trying those rice pearls & good job on the cash-only reminder! How the rest of us forgot to mention this, I don't know!

                          1. re: ararebit

                            Yes! Had these for the first time just recently and they were wonderful.

                            1. re: Allstonian

                              Allstonian (and anyone else, for that matter!), are there any dishes you like or love that haven't been mentioned yet? Mary's is my go-to local & am set in ordering pattern (that is, I may be in a rut).

                              1. re: pocketviking

                                Another one which is only available on the weekend menu is the steamed sesame rice balls. These are sweet mochi dumplings stuffed with sesame. They come in a bowl of hot water, so you can eat them while they are still warm. I love the little fellas.

                                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                  I adore those as well. Maybe MC has house made ones but the first place i had them, Fuloon, usually uses frozen ones, readily available at 88, etc. in case you have a non-wkend craving.

                                2. re: pocketviking

                                  My son loves the dry-cooked sliced beef. I've had a few bites and it is pretty yummy.

                                  1. re: pocketviking

                                    There's a vegetarian chive pie on the dim sum menu that's in an empanada-style short crust that we ordered for the first time this afternoon. Needed a hit of the tableside vinegar, but that elevated it considerably.

                                    Thing about MC is that the standards are so sublime that it's very easy to simply get one or two orders of suan la chow show, one of the three dun dun noodles variants (plain, chicken, fried bean curd), and some greens and call it at that.

                              2. Over the past maybe 30 years by now, I've always been partial to Suan La Chow Show, and Hot Stuffed Eggplant.

                                1. Sweet sesame rice balls

                                  1. suan la chow show
                                    dun dun noodles
                                    hung shao pig feet
                                    steamed rice pearls
                                    yu hsiang eggplant
                                    grandma's pie

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: galangatron

                                      g, boy am i glad i read CH, and that you posted. We did a take out there yesterday and my new must orders have expanded considerably! I asked for 'medium spicy' on all of the hot/spicy items, and that worked out well except w/ the dundun noodles w/ chicken- which was a bit over my chile limit but still delicious. I should have followed pocketviking's lead w/ the greens, but i forgot. Next time.
                                      All of these favs are on the dimsum menu except for the Hot stuffed eggplant, which is on the regular menu:

                                      Suan la chow show- wonton wrapper dumplings w/ tender meat filling and spicy sauce
                                      (Deep)Fried soft tofu with slivered ginger
                                      (Deep)Fried soft tofu w/ dundun (peanut)sauce and bean sprouts
                                      Dundun noodles w/ slivered chicken and crunchy bean sprouts in hot peanut sauce
                                      Crab rangoon- generous filling, as good as Arlington's Shanghai Garden (my gold standard)
                                      Pork pearl balls- tender balls of pork with crunchy water chestnuts, coated w/ sticky rice and steamed
                                      Stuffed Eggplant- sliced eggplant coins sandwiched w/ tender pork stuffing ,breaded and fried , w/ spicy sauce. (I was so thrilled to find this particular dish because the curried meat version of this same thing- has been in my memory forever, though i cannot remember its Boston restnt origin.)
                                      Sweet Black Sesame filled poached rice flour balls

                                      Wow! No wonder MC is still going strong after ~30 years; not a loser among these! Thks CHs for getting me to finally appreciate the glory of Mary Chung's.

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        Most of these dishes are on the regular menu, and I wouldn't recommend ordering greens as take-out since they keep cooking once packed.

                                    2. We had lunch at Mary Chungs today, a back to college/end of summer celebration. Five of us, 2 over 50 and 3 under 21.
                                      My husband and I could not convince the youngsters to order a couple of plates at a time, so all at once we had
                                      dun dun noodles- a little heavy on the peanut oil/sauce for me, but I did eat my share.
                                      peking raviolis-never a favorite of mine but loved by everyone one else
                                      wonton soup-looked great but did not try
                                      Rice pearls-really good, especially in the chow show sauce
                                      Suan la chow show - could eat this all day..so good.
                                      Scallion pancake- really good, nice crisp and a good foil for some of the spice. Should of ordered more than 1
                                      Pork and Veg bun-did not try only because it was inhaled, apparently it was very good.
                                      chicken wings - nothing special
                                      beef shanghai noodles- good earthy mushroom dish with glass noodles and veggies. we all enjoyed a bite.

                                      It was fun and good, just what we expected. will be back for more suan la chow show, especially when the cold weather arrives.

                                      1. Have had many stellar experiences at MC but yesterday was not one of them. After studying this thread again, we got:
                                        Peking Rav
                                        Pork and Chive Dumplings
                                        Crab Rangoon
                                        Rice Pearl Balls
                                        Yusiang Pork
                                        Gen Gao's chicken
                                        Chinese Romaine
                                        Fried Tofu with Dan Dan peanut sauce

                                        The epiphanies were the last two. Wow- that Chinese Romaine is so simple and so fantastic! I'd never even heard of it before pocketviking mentioned it. Garlic and chicken stock sauce. It had a very unique nutty flavor, most addictive! And I just love crunchy tofu with a silky creamy insides. The sauce was too hot for me but i asked for extra beansprouts and that helped alot.

                                        Crab rangoon were as excellent as usual.Pearl balls, and pork chive dumplings needed oomph (ginger plse!). All the others were either not up to their usual , or worse. The biggest disappointment was the Gen Gao, which we ordered because of some CH raves. Sauce o.k., not too too sweet, but v bad fry job (not crisp; dead and leaden) and subpar chicken quality, plus a noticeably smaller portion than elsewhere.
                                        Yusiang pork was tasty but sweet. Odd. It was a very quiet, rainy Sat. 2pm. We watched and encountered two separate street people who came into the restnt for take out, one drunk and loud. (Made me think about a parting comment I read from Steve Johnson who was not happy about that contingent being a regular concern at Rendezvous.)This was a first for us at MC.
                                        Even with the negatives, on the whole, we really enjoyed ourselves, as we rarely get there and those last 2 dishes were just knock-outs.When something is that good, the meh things kind of fade into the background.