There’s a place called The Flying Pig, which seems to be the retail outlet of a group with food trucks. Their specialty is jianbing. They’re at 61 Lexington/25th Street. I’ve never been, but would love to hear your thoughts.
Hmm. Google Maps says that The Flying Pig is permanently closed at 61 Lex, with another place called BaoBao Cafe (which also looks interesting) in that location instead. https://www.instagram.com/theflyingpignyc/ appears to show where the food trucks show up. I don’t know if we’re making it out to Flushing, though I"ll also keep an eye out if we do for the Golden Mall.
We now return to your regularly scheduled Boston area restaurants! (Around the corner from IQ Kitchen in Newton, there’s a place called Dumpling House (南北園). A batch of the menu looks familiar, and suggests it’s a spinoff of the Dumpling Cafe/House/Galaxy/Palace/Cataclysm/Armageddon chain, but does anybody know if they’re directly affiliated or a knockoff?
So, I took advantage of some down time recently with a WiFi network nearby to put in some annotations in the map. They are my recollections of favorite items on the menus for the various places that I recommend (though I’ve only made it to Sichuan and Taiwan places so far). If anybody has other favorite things, I’m all ears. And I have a massive list of places to check out, and little time to make the schlep to Newton or Quincy, but I’ll try some time soon!
Their instagram page also mentions the Lexington Ave location. But Bao Bao Cafe looks good, too.
this is cool. looking forward to you filling in more spots on the map! thanks for putting that together.
Also see this thread:
I have to try this. I’ve had a version at the New World Mall and it was only so-so.
Thanks for sharing the jianbing post! If you run into any acceptable version of it in Boston please be sure to update us!
Re: New World Mall, this may be a problem of too many choices, but I just got overwhelmed each time I’m there and ended up somewhere else. As far as Northern Chinese cuisines, I think they are better represented by restaurants along Main St. If you have any good recommendations at the mall or otherwise I’d love to try them!
There’s quite a fiasco there! They were first at Yum Yum Noodle in DTX, then moved to Potluck Cafe in Chinatown, and then finally as actual business partners at Hulun Beir. At least two of those relationships were contentious, with this last one ending particularly badly. The chef seems like a really decent guy, so I’m not quite sure why all this has been happening, despite hearing about some of the specific disputes.
Dumpling House in Cambridge and Newton are indeed affiliated, and these two have some relationship to Gourmet Dumpling House, but some suggest it’s not a direct one. And Dumpling Cafe/Dumpling Kingdom/Dumpling Palace are together and unrelated to the Houses.
I didn’t know that they opened in Newton.
That suggest that the jian bing counter at Yum Yum moved to Potluck Cafe, etc. But the stand at Yum Yum is still there: I just walked past it 40 minutes ago.
Incidentally, I urge people to patronize Yum Yum. They have an interesting menu besides the jian bing – dumplings in red chilli oil, sticky rice wrapped in leaves, etc. Yet they do much less business than the more conventional stands at the Corner Mall at DTX. (I have not had these offerings, so cannot attest to their quality – but they do seem worth trying.)
Well, the original couple who started making them at Yum Yum (and arguably started the whole fad by drawing crowds at various local food festivals) did leave, and in a state of some discontent - if memory serves, the wife claimed that the owners of Yum Yum saw how popular the item was and decided to do it themselves instead. No way to know for sure what really went on, of course.
Thanks for these back stories.
So, I finally made it to Sei Bar in Wakefield last night. I’d have to say that this menu is impressively genuine Hunan style. The dishes, down to the open-mouthed brown rice filled shu mai that I used to eat for breakfast every morning from the local cafeteria, are all flavors that I remember from Changsha. They are remarkably disciplined for not having intrusions from Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangdong, or anywhere else.
Which in some ways is also its downside. Even the dishes that weren’t supposed to be spicy seemed to be cooked in a chili-infused cooking oil (something else I remember from my time in Changsha), so it’s not a great place for the spice-avoiding types, unless they confine themselves to the pan-Asian part of the menu. For spice-heads, there was a lovely wealth of flavors and textures, with the allium-infused stir fried cauliflower, the crunchy rendition of lotus root, the skillfully knifed and flavored cumin lamb, and the beautifully textured and layer-flavored spicy fish filets (雙椒魚片) standing out. I don’t think I’ll be back with my wife and kids, but I’ll go back if there are homesick Hunanese expats or spice-heads in the crowd.
This spice-head appreciates your review! These dishes from Sei Bar look interesting.
Sounds truly wonderful. I won;'t be back until May, so I hope it’s still around!
While I"m at it, has anybody been to Joy Luck Hot Pot in Chinatown? It looked intriguing when they put it in as a replacement for the McDonald’s at Stuart Street and Washington, but I haven’t heard any buzz since. Genuine Sichuan? Taiwanese knock-off attempt?
seems worth noting here a recent review by Valerie Sizhe Li in The Sampan that points out Jenny’s House, a place in Quincy that has dishes from Suzhou: http://sampan.org/2018/04/restaurant-review-jennys-house/
Well, I just walked through the Food Court in Downtown Crossing, and I can verify that Yum Yum is still there, and they are making jianbing there (though the one I saw them finishing looked like it was going to get comically overstuffed with potatoes, some sort of meat, etc). Menu still looks interesting, so I’ll have to pay it a visit sooner or later.
In the meantime, I also finally made it to Hot Eastern, in Chinatown in that food court building. I was with a small crew, so I only ordered a handful of dishes, but what I had was promising. Their dan dan noodles (擔擔麵) offered nicely browned beef bits, and a gently spicy sauce with a hint of sesame paste (much less than Fuchsia does, and seeming more right in my book). I had a chef’s special app whose Chinese name I didn’t take down, but it consisted of thin slices of cucumber and fresh pork belly draped over a wooden dowel and suspended over a small bowl with Sichuanese chili oil. This was fantastic – chlii oil had lovely depth of flavor without overpowering, the cucumber and pork dipped in it made for a nice mix of cold and spicy, crispy and soft, a little sweet and a little fat. Just perfect. Their Sichuan dumplings (衝餃子) were not in the usual pool of chili sauce that I’m used to – that would be more like the dip for the cucumber and bacon thing. Instead they were swimming in a mix of vinegar and chili oil and broth which was interesting (though I liked it better by dipping the dumplings into the chili oil from the other starter).
We also had dry-wok beef (乾鍋肥牛), with a lovely mix of vegetable textures from lotus root and potatoes to wood ear and a sauce with a fine depth of flavor, whose chili heat caught up with you after a few bites. The northern style eggplant (北方茄子) was a nice contrast, in a velvety brown sauce, though we felt that a splash of the vinegar from the dumplings gave it the extra oomph that it needed.
In short, not necessarily the spiciest Sichuanese I’ve ever eaten (though their boiled beef 水煮牛肉 looked promisingly evil), but nice execution with real complexity of flavor. I’ll be back with reinforcements to try more stuff!