Regional Chinese cooking in Greater Boston

This whole thing is kind of fascinating to me. It seemed in my searching that there is a franchise by this name, because when I was searching for this I saw lots of places in Texas and Colorado with the same name and just assumed they were all under the same umbrella. But your point about one being a direct translation and one being phonetic is also well taken–thanks for letting me know about that! I wonder what’s going on here, especially with places opening up in Quincy and Allston at seemingly the same time.

I’d love to see a full Yunnan style restaurant open anywhere around here as well myself. I watched the second season of Flavorful Origins that @kobuta mentioned and was totally intrigued!

The cynical part of me thinks it’s because noodle soup is a fairly standardized product with higher margin, like how restaurants make more money on pasta dishes (supposedly)…

If you and @kobuta like the Yunnan cuisine you’ve seen, I have been enamoured with this youtube channel made by a young lady living and cooking in a rural Yunan village with her family, who is now pretty famous in the Chinese online media. It’s just fascinating to see the tropical fruits and vegetables she can grow/forage and what she does with them. It really makes you yearn for the simple life living off the land with a spoiled rotten malamute, but then I look at the amount of chili pepper she consumes and decides against it… :joy:

Here’s a video of her making the rice noodle soup we are discussing from scatch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56_Nm2ly2pg

3 Likes

Sorry for derailing the thread but the video brought to mind another similar poster that is tranquil, interesting, and a joy to watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJSZfrJFluw

1 Like

I knew who it was before I even opened the video. :joy:

This could be a separate topics on the rise of Chinese food media, but these two ladies are probably the top of the class of what I would call the “idyllic country side living” type of vloggers. There are also the “chef teaching people how to make food at home”, the “chef teaching people how to open their restaurants”, the “travel around the city/province/country/world to eat”, and finally, “MUKBANG!!! look at how much I can eat/how expensive my food is” type, which I personally find insufferable. It really is crazy how much food media is being produced outside food documentaries and competitions.

1 Like

DH and I went to Cubist Circle in Weymouth (the latest Sichuan restaurant) last night and a great meal was had. It was our first dine-in meal inside so we were nervous, but the tables were at least 10-12 feet apart from each other so it feels safe to take the masks off. Anybody know what was there before them? The place is huge with two dinning rooms and a full bar.

We ordered the wonton in chili oil, diced chicken with chili pepper, sliced beef with numbing pepper, and some forgettable sushi thingy. Everything was pleasantly spicy but not over the top, and really enjoyed the fact that the chili is used differently in each dish (rightfully so). The chili oil used in wonton tastes deeply toasted, diced chicken has more upfront heat but is quite addictive and would make a great drinking dish.

The sliced beef got more of its heat from pickled pepper and green peppercorns, which seems to be infused in the oil but not the actual dish. It came in a huge bowl with pickled veg and some more fresh vegetables at the bottom. Took home the leftover beef and broth home and want to experiment with poaching a bit of white flaky fish in the broth, since I’m too lazy to make it at home.

Also got two small bowls of ice jelly on the house, since there was still a bit of wait when we got there past the dinner rush. I would probably describe ice jelly as a looser bland Jell-o with various fruit/nut /Osmanthus toppings and brown sugar syrup. I haven’t heard it being offered in other Sichuan restaurants except perhaps the newer hotpot places (don’t really go out for hotpot), so that was a pleasant surprise.


6 Likes

Interesting. It does indeed look like there is a YunNan based chain of restaurants called ShiMiaoDao which specializes in the rice noodle soup that I learned as cross-the-bridge noodles, and bears a striking resemblance to ramen and pho (hence I suspect its popularity). http://www.shimiaodao.com/ is the web site for the chain, which mentions branches around the United States, though oddly enough, none in Massachusetts.

On Google Maps, the Wollaston joint doesn’t even go by the transliterated name, only the Chinese, and the web site appears to be in Chinese only. Will add that to my list of places to check out.

Also agreed that there’s a whole world of YunNan cuisine that goes largely untapped. I have a cookbook called Cooking South of the Clouds (YunNan means “south of the clouds”) which is all about the cuisine, though I have yet to find an exemplar apart from rice noodles in Boston.

2 Likes

Wow that looks good. Curious to me that the menu does look largely legit SiChuanese, with no creeping over from other regional cuisines, yet they also have a sushi and sashimi and maki menu. Normally that would scare me off, but after experiencing Sei Bar in Wakefield, maybe I need to check this place out, too.

Sigh, so much food, so little time (and such a schlep from my neck of the woods …)

3 Likes

Yum! That looks fantastic! I’ll have to see if they do takeout or offer delivery.

Thank you, and to @Ferrari328, to. I have seen videos from both, and enjoy some of their videos. One is my sister loves them both, so she introduced me to a few of them. They are indeed good videos to chill to.

1 Like

I wouldn’t worry too much about sushi on the menu; especially these days when restaurants are trying their hardest to stay afloat. Last night we saw two tables of sushi-having folks (6 to 8 people) and perhaps five smaller tables ordering only Chinese dishes, so it does seem to help. Perhaps this happens further away from the city you go; our go-to taco/burrito place is a pizzeria ran by a Mexican family.

3 Likes

this looks great, thanks for the review! I’m adding it to The List, haha.

I’ve heard that translated as “mouth watering” in the context of 口口鸡

I once went to Chicago to try an amazing Yunnan restaurant called Spring World, which sadly closed and then was replaced by the owner of the Lao Sze Chuan chain, it might be called Lao Yun Nan or something like that. Spring World was among the best places I’ve ever tried, and their specialty was dried mushroom dishes.

4 Likes

The mouth watering chicken is “口水鸡” (read: kou shui ji - literally, mouth water chicken). This restaurant is “口口香” (mouth mouth fragrant).

2 Likes

Ah, you’re right. How could I have gotten that wrong. :-/

Thanks for the rec of My Happy Hunan Kitchen! Finally tried it and got take out last night. Truly fantastic tasty food!

I grew up in San Francisco loving Hunan food(Brandy Ho’s–maybe not the most authentic, but I loved the flavors) so having Hunan food again was very exciting.

Last night I ordered five dishes to share. I ordered 4 dishes “extra spicy-human style”. Those were:
Stir Fried String Beans & Eggplant
Stir Fried Cauliflower
Sizzling Calamari
Happy Spicy Shrimp

Each dish was extraordinarily fresh & delicious. The flavors, while difficult to ultimately describe, were vibrant with a blend of spicy, sour, smoky and ultimately exotic. The vegetables within, including taro root and bamboo shoots, were perfectly cooked, with their texture remaining, and were a perfect vehicle for absorbing the complexity of the sauces. For me the heat level was excellent , surely a subjective thing, but for me, it was spicy, but surely not over the top-Just about perfection with the heat not overwhelming the dishes, but surely amping the impact. Also had one order of steamed vegetable dumplings to start, which were fine.

Each dish was unique and I felt I ordered pretty well for my first try. The only slight overlap was cauliflower was included in the shrimp dish, so possibly would order a different vegetable next time. The menu is quite large and varied, so there are more than a few items I want to return for and I surely will! Dishes were quite generous-the shrimp dish was huge! Prices are a bit high, but with the high quality ingredients and large portions, I found it more than worth it. I will always order the sizzling calamari! Outstanding!

Service was kind and fast, I ordered over the phone and picked up the food in 20 minutes.

Leftovers await, so with some fresh rice, we will continue our gleeful Hunan eatings :slight_smile: Thanks again passing_thru & Dr. Jimbob!!!

4 Likes

Cool. Thanks for the report!

1 Like
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold