From mapo tofu to biang biang noodles to handmade dumplings, Boston's Chinese food scene is solid—and many dishes can go head-to-head with their counterparts in the mother country. Here's where to find the best of the best.
New Dong Khanh in Boston's Chinatown makes an admirable seafood cháo, with shrimp, imitation crabmeat, terrific sliced fishcakes, and a fistful of fresh scallions.
When you can't get to Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe for biang biang noodles, you might want to consider Mei Mei.
I thought pie for breakfast might be only a midwest treat until I noticed a small sign at Two Fat Cats in Portland, Maine. Minutes later, I was parked at the teeny tiny bistro table they have crammed between the staircase and a speed rack, digging into a slice of sour cherry.
Though "chirashi" literally translates to "scattered," I always think of classic chirashi as the composed salad of sushi preparations: a bed of vinegared rice overlaid with fanned out fish fillets and tidy bunches of vegetables set just so. The chirashi at Pai Men Miyake is particularly nice and well portioned for the price.
Meet Bagelsaurus's glorious version of bagels and lox, which includes a crackly, chewy handmade bagel, cream cheese, piles of house-cured salmon, pickled onions, and crispy fried capers.
The Che'Che'Bsa at Lucy Ethiopian Cafe is easily one of the most satisfying, and most underrated, breakfast dishes in the city.
The craggy crust, which is almost crisp, protects the moister (but still appropriately coarse and dense) interior. It's tailor-made for a good slather of the accompanying soft butter.
I love reading chef interviews about where they go to eat in their free time, because more often than not, they bring attention to small, local spots with a great dish or two that go otherwise unnoticed by most people and the press. Case in point: Jeannette's Bakery.
Row 34 might come to overshadow sibling Island Creek Oyster Bar for two good reasons: the craft beer program and the house-smoked and -cured shellfish and flatfish offerings.
St. John is very much a destination for stunning landscapes, beaches, and weather, and less for memorable food—with a few exceptions.
If you weren't already jealous of Berkshires residents, you will be after a meal at Prairie Whale.
Reason would suggest that when you're eating on-the-go, a gooey grilled cheese is not a practical sandwich choice. Reason would also suggest that when you're picking up lunch from a fine cheese shop—in this case, one of the finest in New England—it's only prudent to order the gooiest, most spectacular-sounding grilled cheese sandwich on the menu.
I never need an excuse to eat Asian noodle soups, but it being the dead of winter and the start of Chinese New Year, the timing seemed particularly good for rounding up a few of my favorites.
What was extraordinary about The Meat Market Burger was the meat itself. I don't usually think of burger beef as clean and fresh-tasting, but this really was.
So much for those New Years diet resolutions, but who could turn this down? When Mei Mei, arguably Boston's most beloved food truck, decided to expand and open up a restaurant with walls and doors and tables and chairs, they also expanded their menu. Now the roster of offbeat Chinese-ish, farm-to-table-type eats includes Trotters and Waffles.
Portland's original and newly revamped Chinese kitchen serves familiar Cantonese and dim sum dishes done up Maine-style.
Xi'an Sizzling Woks, a recent addition to Philly's Chinatown, was so good that I went twice over Thanksgiving weekend to eat their liang pi and biang biang.
It feels a little trite to report about another Momofuku-ish noodle joint, but the food at Philly's CHeU Noodle Bar is worth talking about.
When my college friends and I were brainstorming cities for a meet-up weekend, New Orleans was at the top of everyone's list—for the warm weather and the music, of course, but mostly for the food. Here's the best of what we ate.
About a month ago, the Ribelle team decided to do their version of an early-bird special: "3 for $30 before 6:30." It's one of the best deals around among upper-scale restaurants running similar special menus—and notably this arrangement comes with a lot of freedom.
Not to be a downer on traditional holiday fare, but the redundancy of pumpkin ravioli, soup, cheesecake, bread, and pie leaves me bored with the season's favorite squash. At least, I was before I met kaddo bourani, a classic Afghan preparation that has become my favorite way to eat pumpkin.
At Bronwyn, the food menu hits many of the Bavarian classics you'd expect—killer spätzle, of course, as well as sausages, huge pretzels, beer-cheese soup, pierogi, schnitzel, and sauerbraten—and a few that you might not.
At North, the kitchen doesn't just bend rules, but breaks them entirely, confidently, and incredibly skillfully.
The Korean spicy tofu soup sundudbu jjigae is incredibly savory and satisfying, the kind of soup where you keep spooning up the broth even when you're full.
Al Forno's grilled pizza needs no introduction, but the restaurant's desserts—particularly the free-form tarts—don't get the chatter they deserve. Chef/owners Johanne Killeen and George Germon run three or four of them at a time, filling the same ultra-flaky tart dough (flour, sugar, salt, water, and lots of butter) with a variety of produce: apples, peaches and raspberries, plums—and during the fall months, sugar pumpkins.
As food aesthetics go, the murky, rust-brown, pebbly lalla musa dal at Tamarind Bay Coastal Kitchen can't compare to the restaurant's other specialties like the fennel cream-sauced cauliflower dumplings or the spiced lobster tail. But famed Indian chefs like Julie Sahni don't consider this dish "the most exquisite of all dal preparations" for nothing, and speaking in terms of decadence, it outclasses the rest by a long shot.