Where to Go? What to Order?
Looking for a place to eat in Boston? The "must-try" spot for Chinese food? Dumplings? Dim Sum? My favorite burger?Pizza? A Gluten-free joint?
People often ask me where they should eat in Boston and what they should order when they get there. I've been very inconsistent about keeping up my "Noshes & News" page, sometimes posting on food news and food reviews in the Leather District Gourmet page, sometimes there.
Adopting the "no time like the present" motto, I'm going to start now. I'll make best efforts to share quick notes of good spots to eat, noting what is unique about the place, and include some of my favorite dishes. These will be the ones that either house specialities, indicative of the cuisine, or just ones that I really enjoy. I'll also try to note things like whether the place is friendly to those with allergies, or disabilities, etc. Just stuff you oughtta know. Going forward you can search on "where to go" or just look at the "Noshes and News" page. When I add new posts, I'll try to remember to add them there and post on the home page, too.
Where to go:
21 Hudson Street (runs between Kneeland and Beach, just inside Chinatown Gate.)
Unique about this place:
...is that it specializes in Sichuan cuisine, in a Chinatown which is largely Cantonese seafood. This restaurant is the place to try Northern specialties like Cumin Lamb which recall the Norther Silk Road influence. Many dishes have toasted red chilies which you don't eat, simply set them aside or eat around them. Also unique to this region's cuisine is the Sichuan Pepper (which is actually not in the peppercorn family at all, but that's a post for another day). The oil creates a spicy, slightly tingly and numbing sensation on the tongue. It's also floral in its flavor profile and the whole combination is so intriguing you can't help but go back for more. Remember, when you're trying to quench the fire in your mouth water is not your friend! Eat a bite of white rice to dampen the heat. Then go back for more.
Note: several steep and slightly uneven steps lead up to this restaurant. I don't believe there is alternate access. If someone in your party cannot handle these steps, I recommend doing takeout and having a picnic in the Chinatown garden or on the Greenway.
Mandarin is the primary language here, though both English and Cantonese speakers will have no trouble ordering. Menus in English. Separate room available for large parties.
Beer and wine are available, as well as some sakés, but I think tea or beer is the best with this food.
What to eat:
Szechuan Wonton with Red Chili Sauce - soft little dumplings in a Sichuan chili sauce that is hot in temperature and spice.
Spicy Cabbage salad - don't eat the red chilis but the rest is great, crunchy, slightly vinegary, perfect counterpoint to many of the spicy dishes.
Scallion pancakes - here come with the addition of sliced cold beef. It's a nice departure from the typical Cantonese style pancake.
Cumin Lamb - very good, a little salty, cumin covered lamb is quite different from the dishes you'll find elsewhere in Chinatown.
Tea-smoked duck - Lapsong Souchong is a very smoky tea which is used both for drinking and for smoking meats. This duck is a great example of the use of this technique.
There's also a dish that doesn't appear on the online menu that is well worth trying. It's a poached or steamed "baby chicken" (I think probably poussin) served cold in the Sichuan chili sauce. So tender and flavorful is the meat, and delightfully tingly is the sauce you'll be thinking about this dish before your next visit.
Moo Shu dishes are excellent here, too. The stir fry of meat and vegetables always has a good amount of the expensive mushrooms other places might skimp on. The crepes are perfectly rendered and more can be ordered. The leftover filling is also great for breakfast!
Questions? Comments? Please drop a note if you've eaten here and share any dishes you think are on the "must-try" list!