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.
A banner printed with tiny white fish flutters above Ma Soba's sushi bar, where chefs in pert white hats tuck ribbons of fish atop rice and seaweed. In the kitchen, stovetops sizzle with Chinese, Korean, Thai, and other Asian dishes, such as bulgogi, tempura-battered seafood and vegetables, and entrees spiced with chili-and-ginger general tso's sauce. Wine and water goblets moor maroon tablecloths in the softly lit dining room, where potted orchids and bromeliads complement a Japanese screen painted with branches and cherry blossoms. Ma Soba also packs entrees into tidy containers for carryout and delivery orders to offices, homes, and tree houses.
Xinh Xinh may be located in the heart of Chinatown, but its menu is centered around the heart of Vietnamese cooking. As one might expect, noodle soups, or pho, take center stage with varieties such as curry chicken or beef, fish paste, roast duck, tripe, and pig liver. Guests may choose any of five noodle types––yellow, rice, broad, clear, or pho––to customize any of the noodle soup specialties, though Boston.com recommends the Hu Tieu Nam Veng. The clear noodle soup is served with pork, liver, quail egg, shrimp, and "tiny, toothsome fishballs", and was dubbed, "so flavorful, we forget all about the chili paste and garnishes […] we usually heap into soup at Vietnamese restaurants." For those who shun the soup spoon, Xinh Xinh also offers up a full menu of other Vietnamese and Chinese specialties including hot pots, vermicelli buns stuffed with BBQ meatballs or grilled pork, and rice plates piled high with lemongrass chicken, stir-fried vegetables, or grilled pork. And, of course, there is the avocado shake that Boston.com called "sweet, creamy, cold, and subtly and soothingly flavored", like a scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two soft jazz records.
Visit Shanghai during the Chinese New Year, and there's a good chance you'll catch most everyone eating something known as lion's head casserole. Don’t panic. There's no lion in this dish; instead, professional chefs and home cooks alike stew pork meatballs with napa cabbage, neatly arranging the leaves around the meat to form what merely resembles a lion's head. And though this savory, hearty dish is typically served around the holidays, guests of Shanghai Gate can get it year-round. In fact, it’s one of this quaint Allston Village eatery’s most popular dishes, and one that likely helps the spot land on Eater’s list of the 38 Essential Boston Restaurants time and time again. True to form, the remainder of Shanghai Gate’s menu features a host of authentic Shanghai specialties, ranging from xiao long bao (shanghai soup dumplings) to fish slices cooked in wine and ginger. The food itself is simple and uncomplicated, much like the décor. Red paper lanterns are the sole highlight of the intimate space's decoration, popping from a backdrop of blank white walls and wooden tables and booths.
Gourmet Dumpling House’s dishes span the culinary tastes of the entire country of China—and a little bit of Taiwan, too. Considering the restaurant’s name, it’s not surprising that the chefs here consider their dumplings and buns the highlight of their extensive menu. They spend 15 minutes preparing these signature bites, stuffing them with savory proteins such as pork, crab meat, seafood, and chicken. They also feature a full selection of chef’s specialties, including mango chicken, braised sea cucumbers, and whatever dish has been on its best behavior that day. Celebrity chef Ming Tsai—an expert himself in east-meets-west cuisine—even lauded Gourmet Dumpling House’s Szechuan-style sliced fish as better than his own on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”