Guests can order from the traditional Szechuan menu at Little Q Hot Pot, but the real thrill of this cozy Arlington eatery is the dish that shares its name. Akin to fondue, the Chinese hot pot bubbles at the center of the table within an arm’s reach of guests ready to cook their own food or stage an all-shrimp revival of Macbeth. When ready, diners simply spear the protein of their choice—such as USDA prime rib, scallops, chicken, or even quail egg—and dip it in the piping hot chicken, seafood, veggie, or curry beef broth until its cooked to their liking. Vegetarians can partake as well by enjoying a bounty of fresh vegetables, including oyster mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and Chinese broccoli, alongside four kinds of noodles. Those not interested in DIY dining can opt for expected Chinese restaurant favorites, such as kung pao beef and sesame chicken or split several hearty orders of pan fried pork or steamed lamb dumplings.
Chefs at Fusion Taste top white tablecloths with a mix of Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Rock-shrimp tempura and hand-tossed scallion pancakes share table space with Chinese classics such as sesame chicken and black-pepper beef. Thick stalks of bamboo rise beneath the window of the dining room, providing natural decor as well as a place to hide tuna-stuffed sushi rolls for later. The chefs also showcase Japanese flavor in cooked dishes such as aigomo-rosu teriyaki, or sliced duck meat in a sake soy sauce, and seared tuna sautéed in a wild-mushroom sauce.
Visitors to Tom Can Cook quickly confirm that Tom, whoever he is, isn’t just feigning confidence. He's a master of Asian cuisines, fusing Thai, Korean, Szechuan, and Vietnamese influences for a menu with dozens of different sauces and proteins. Spicy kimchi fried rice hosts morsels of chicken or beef, and the similarly Korean okdol bibimbap mixes meat with veggies and an egg in a stone pot or sturdy top hat. Cooks sauté roasted duck in curry sauce before adding in snow peas, pineapple, and basil sauce to make it siam duck choo chee, and boneless pork loin enjoys a dressing of spicy basil sauce and bamboo shoots in the wild boar basil dish.
Inside the dining room, patrons nourish their bellies at white tablecloths while casting glances at Asian screens, decorative floral gewgaws, and oblong hanging lamps stationed throughout.
At House of Chang, you can just as easily find a happy family sitting at one of the restaurant’s cozy tables as you can find one on a plate. The Happy Family, of course, is one of House of Chang’s specialty dishes, a reunion of shrimp, beef, chicken, pork, and broccoli in brown sauce. It shares menu space with other house dishes, including plum duck and sesame chicken. The rest of the menu has everything from lo mein and chop suey to moo shi, which wraps mushrooms, scallions, eggs, and meat in a pancake, much like the severance package that an omelet gets after it leaves its kitchen job. A review of House of Chang in The Boston Phoenix lauded the eatery simply for its “swell food at moderate prices.”
Chinese and Japanese culinary traditions unite inside the walls of Asia Palace, appeasing polar cravings with meals ranging from spicy General Tso’s chicken, scorched with red peppers, to sushi hand rolls with cooling ingredients such as cucumber, raw salmon, and creamy avocado. The sushi bar also churns out specialty sushi rolls with some heat, including the wasabi roll with tuna and yellowtail as well as the lobster roll topped with crunchy spicy tuna. Classic dishes from other areas of Asia include pad thai with peanuts and egg; singapore rice noodles with wok-fried shrimp, pork, and chicken in a curry sauce; and lychee nuts—which are played with in place of marbles in Korea.
It's in a posh shopping center in the suburbs, but don't let the location fool you—Bernard’s Restaurant could give any spot in Chinatown a run for its money. The Improper Bostonian once called this Chestnut Hill hot spot—known for drawing lively crowds nightly—the best Chinese American restaurant in metro Boston.