Boston Chinese food

Here’s an interesting piece on the history of Boston Chinese food, how it evolved to become a unique branch of American Chinese food and craved by so many in Beantown even after they left town:

“…even if Boston doesn’t have the best Chinese food in America, it most certainly has a take on Chinese cuisine it can call its own. Engineered for palates conditioned by decades of molasses-y baked beans, rich clam chowder, and watery Dunkin’ Donuts coffee ordered “extra-extra” style (extra cream, extra sugar), Boston Chinese, as I’ll abbreviate it, is essentially the “extra-extra” of Americanized Chinese food—simply substitute “white bread” for “cream” and “molasses” for “sugar” and you get a rough idea of the cuisine. This quasi-Polynesian, quasi-Cantonese style of cooking still has a fervent fan base, particularly among the older set.”

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I read that yesterday. Some of it rang true - other parts did not. And the Quincy restaurant they deemed the most Boston Boston-Chinese restaurant ever did not resonate. There are so many others - Kowloon, for one. China Delight, Bali Hai, Jade East - these are the places of my youth that are still doing it today. Minus the (bread) rolls in some cases… :slight_smile: That said, long live Peking Dumplings! :slight_smile:

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getting “lobster” sauce and bread with Chinese food was def. a big part of my suburban Boston Chinese food eating history at the Sun Island in Millis.

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I think the Golden Temple in Brookline trumps all other Boston/American style Chinese restaurants. Kowloon is ok, but like eating in a factory.We tried The China in Quincy twice for takeout and was very disappointed both times. Maybe I should have ordered the burger! I think I mentioned several times that there isn’t a good Chinese restaurant in Quincy. There certainly is a lot of them but none that keeps us from going to The Golden Temple or Bejing House in Norwell. Great Chow in Abington is another worthy stop for some Boston/American Chinese food.
Wanting to Enjoy,

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so I’ve been trolling this thread just to learn about Boston Chinese food and find places to try.

Just googled the Golden Temple - is that building as cool as it looks in those photos? It photographs insanely well.

It really is “THE” Golden Temple. Try it you’ll like it. Very good cocktails also.

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The Bali Hai in Lynnfield is classic run-down old-school Chinese, and their boneless spareribs are the best I’ve had in town. The rest of the food is decent, if not great; the big draw here are the ridiculously cheap and strong drinks. It’s the only place I’ve been where someone complained to the bartender about their mai tai being too strong. The bartender laughed and said “Hey pal, if it’s too strong, go to PF Chang, kid!”

I unabashedly love Kowloon, even though the drinks are kind of generic and the food is mediocre much of the time. It’s a fun place to go with a group, and the Saugus wings are worthwhile.

One of my favorites is Chung King Rick’s in Billerica. Decent buffet, but the stuff off the menu is better than average, especially their seafood. They’re justly proud of their hot & sour. Good drinks, tasty peking ravioli, and Rick himself is a great character.


I’m an unabashed fan of China Rainbow in Watertown for this type of thing. Great cheap, strong drinks (Mai Tai is $7.50), and great bone in pork ribs, scallion pancake, and spicy crispy beef (ask for it extra spicy).


Thank you for the reco! This place looks awesome in a '70s way. My previous favorite in this vein was China Moon in Stoneham (whose menu is so 70s that it calls a Roy Rogers drink a “Darth Vader”), but the food is often pretty terrible and has given friends stomach trouble.

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In that same vein is ChangSho in North Cambridge. While it does not become a disco on weekend nights a la Golden Temple, it has all the same elements. Special Mai Tais, excellent Peking dumplings, boneless pork, scallion pancakes, as well as some excellent soup dumplings, pineapple shrimp, lobster with ginger and scallion. AND - there is a parking lot. :slight_smile:

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it’s also for sale:

Yes - thank you - just checked in with my hub, and we are going to China Rainbow tonight. Can’t wait. Thursday night is the perfect night for a Mai Tai! Will report back. :slightly_smiling:

I am absolutely convinced that ChangSho continues to exist solely due to its parking lot. I often wonder how many millions they could get for selling that parcel of land. How many orders of dumplings add up to 20ish prime Mass Ave parking spots?

I swear that nothing at all has changed in there since the 1970’s. Including the paneling, and plastic flowers.

Have fun! Also, it’s crispy orange beef that you should ask for extra spicy!

It was pretty awesome. We had all the standard American-Chinese - the boneless spareribs were the best. Orders of chop suey, lo mein, peking dumplings, sweet and sour shrimp, vegetable fried rice, egg foo young, crab rangoon, beef broccoli, and several mai tais later, we leave fully sated and happy for the experience. The couple that runs the establishment are gracious and funny! The locals were watching Wheel of Fortune in the lounge when we arrived. It is all that. Great evening. Oh, and $149 for all that food and 7 mai tais. There were 7 of us.

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BTW, this is what Chowhound used to be and now Hungry Onion is doing it - unearthing cool little chowish places for others to discover and enjoy! So… thank you kimfair!!! :slight_smile:

You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed it! I forgot to mention how cheap it is as well. It’s a time warp in there, and the lack of windows gives it that old feeling where you have no idea how much time has passed.

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Sun Island in Millis!

Damn son, thats 45 years ago. I would never have come up with that name.

My first “PuPu” platter. Between that , the Red Wing Diner and that family style Italian place on 126 in Framingham ( Holliston?) , near Mammoth Mart (Marino’s, Mariano’s??) , that was " Eating Out" in MetroWest while Hendrix was still alive.

South Pacific in Newton, scratched that itch, but has closed.

the Red Wing is still there, I went there a couple years ago. they renovated part of it, but some of it is still the same.

I can’t remember the name of the Italian place either.