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Boston Chinatown restaurant or tour recommendations

Boston Chinatown restaurant or tour recommendations

Old Jun 15th, 2015, 10:43 AM
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Boston Chinatown restaurant or tour recommendations

My husband and I will have two days in Boston after dropping our son off for college orientation. While we will try to get our fill of lobster rolls, I'd really like to visit Chinatown and would appreciate any restaurant recommendations or even a tour.

I'm also open to any other restaurant suggestions. We like all types of food in a casual setting.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 10:47 AM
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We absolutely loved Sportello (Italian), and really liked Neptune Oyster in the North End. Sorry, can't help with Chinatown, hope others can!
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 11:44 AM
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Just yesterday the Boston Globe magazine did a story on Chinatown restaurants: https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine...4SL/story.html

For seafood, check Row 34 and Island Creek Oyster Bar. Also the Legal Harborside has good seafood with great views. The first floor is casual.

I've never taken one of these North End (Italian) or Chinatown tours but they get good reviews: http://www.bostonfoodtours.com/
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 03:01 PM
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Newbe & cw thanks so much. Your suggestions look great! The link from the Boston Globe is very helpful. The days I'm in Boston won't work with the food tours so I'll save those for a future trip. Thanks again!
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 01:42 AM
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I've been on both tours with Michelle Topor's and highly recommend both. My husband hates cities (we worked in Boston when we were newlyweds) and had to practically be dragged to the Chinatown tour but he loved it. The dim sum restaurant was great because the guide explained what we were eating. I recently met two Fodorites for a dim sum lunch in a small restaurant that did not have rolling carts. The menu had a photo of each item so that worked out very well plus our friend thought food would be fresher coming straight out of the kitchen. Bubor Cha Cha on Beach St. We went for an early lunch and I was surprised at how quickly the tables filled.

Another Fodorite friend who works in Boston recommended banh mi sandwiches from 163 Vietnamese. It's a hole in the wall place.

Heading back to South Station I just stopped in a bakery I thought had been on the tour (but wasn't) and chose a couple of pastries for the ride home. You really need to study a list of bakery items because pineapple buns do not contain pineapple. Some pastries are savory and would make a fine breakfast. Others are sweet but not as sweet as you might be used to. I like red bean fillings which you wouldn't expect to be sweet (red bean ice cream is also good).
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 06:08 AM
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Thanks dfrostnh. I would really like to do the Chinatown tour and wish it was available when we are in Boston. I've never had dim sum so I might need to google Dim Sum for Dummies.

I love banh mi so thanks for that recommendation. And my husband would be disappointed if there was no pineapple in the pineapple bun so that is good to know.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 06:34 AM
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I'm going to be a negative Nelly on the Chinatown tour. I don't see the point. The reality is that the locus of Chinese-American commerce is as much (or more) in the suburbs (Quincy, especially) or at least outside Chinatown. If you are adventurous and have an iPhone, you will be able to figure out everything you are eating.

As to restaurants... Well it depends what you like, but I think the best all around restaurant is probably Taiwan Cafe, with Gourmet Dumpling House quite good as well - I disagree with the globe that Dumpling Cafe is better, as most of their food is woefully under-flavored, especially their xiao long bao. Peach Farm is correctly identified as the best choice for seafood.

For dim sum, Windsor Cafe is good, but no carts. Hei La Moon is probably the best cart dim sum, though they will skip over Western faces with many of the carts and I think the food can be a bit bland - I wouldn't bother with Hei La Moon on a weekday as the carts don't turn quickly enough.

I would not waste my time with either Pho Hoa or Pho Pasteur. If you want Vietnamese food, go to Dorchester.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 07:24 AM
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Funny, I haven't been in a couple of years but the first place that jumped into my head was Taiwan Cafe.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 08:14 AM
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Speaking generally, it's true of many cities that authentic ethnic neighborhoods are no longer inside the city limits. A tourist with limited time wanting a taste--ha ha--of ethnic culture can get that, though, inside the city, even if the experience isn't comprehensive.

That said, the OP doesn't have time for a food tour (as I did not on my recent visit to Boston, to my disappointment), so that's that.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 08:29 AM
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wtm003, you can have an interesting time exploring Chinatown even if you don't have a tour guide. One of the things I enjoyed about the tour was visiting the supermarket which was around the corner from the gate. Some of the vegetables were explained, live fish are swimming in tanks, and black skinned chickens are available for stock making. I find any grocery store fascinating. We also went to a candy store, an herb shop, and places I don't remember. We did not enter the live poultry store. Also got samples of roast pork and other goodies on the tour.

btw I was the first to arrive for lunch at Bubor Cha Cha ad explained I expected friends at 11:15. The host suggested I take a table while they were still available. I'm glad I did but also felt bad about taking a table so early without ordering. If the host hadn't suggested it, I wouldn't have sat down. We also had to ask for forks. Here is the link to their dim sum menu http://buborchacha.com/dimSum.php
One friend did not care for the wide rice noodles because of their texture which was somewhat gelatinous.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 10:27 AM
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North End Fish Market for a lobster roll to-go.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 10:53 AM
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One of the things I enjoyed about the tour was visiting the supermarket which was around the corner from the gate.

Was this Sun Sun? That place is pretty cool. FWIW, I think the best Asian grocery store in the area is around a mile from Chinatown at the corner of Washington and Berkley - Mings. Pretty big, hectic, lots of interesting produce and fish. And it doesn't smell like many Asian markets smell.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 11:10 AM
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Speaking generally, it's true of many cities that authentic ethnic neighborhoods are no longer inside the city limits. A tourist with limited time wanting a taste--ha ha--of ethnic culture can get that, though, inside the city, even if the experience isn't comprehensive.
_________
This is not true for NYC, where the best Asian food is in Queens. And where 475 languages are spoken in the city. Within 20 minute walking walking distance of our apartment in Manhattan are at least 30 different cuisines including regional variations, probably more.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 01:09 PM
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Thanks everyone! With two recommendations, I'm going to try to eat at the Taiwan Cafe as well as visit the supermarket. I went to a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant in Queens where the fish were swimming in tanks. I didn't get a chance to take a closer look, so I'll enjoy the grocery store.

With limited time a lobster roll to-go is a good idea.

I'll report back after the trip. Thanks!
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 02:32 PM
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With limited time a lobster roll to-go is a good idea.

James Hook is another good option for lobster rolls to go.

I'm going to try to eat at the Taiwan Cafe

If you've never had xiao long bao, I highly recommend trying them. They are among my favorite foods in the world. Taiwan Cafe ain't at the levels of Din Tai Fung, but they are good. I can't recall how they are listed on their menu in English, though - maybe soup dumplings, but I think something more like juicy dumplings or something. They are really great. Tricky to eat if you've never tried them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hINbibZ_9GA
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 05:53 PM
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Love the tutorial! Definitely need to try the xiao long bao.
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Old Jun 16th, 2015, 05:59 PM
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What I like about Taiwan Cafe is seeing what the largely asian customers order and pointing and asking.
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Old Jun 17th, 2015, 02:25 AM
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TG it was probably C-Mart. We walked past the gate and parking garage, then turned left. Since I live in NH, I can sometimes get to Saigon Asia in Nashua and maybe once or twice a year to H-Mart in Burlington. I didn't think Boston's C-Mart had much of a smell but it certainly wasn't sparkling modern like H-Mart.
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Old Jun 17th, 2015, 02:53 AM
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From the location that sounds like G Mart. Either way, the C Mart in Chinatown proper has closed. They still have a branch across the Pike, which definitely has the Asian supermarket smell. FWIW, I once saw a rat at the Chinatown C Mart, I kid you not.
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Old Jun 17th, 2015, 04:49 AM
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dfrostnh, DD and I discovered Chinese bakeries in Philadelphia a few years ago after a Dim Sum breakfast did not offer those wonderful pineapple buns. We were so disappointed until we ventured into a bakery we were passing by and found them. We make a point of stopping in whenever we're in the city.
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