Monday, December 15, 2008

The New England Aquarium and Chinatown Roast Meat

When my son was 1, we were so excited to go the New England Aquarium. My husband has had fish tanks his whole life and actually worked there for a few memorable months in his early 20s. Alas, Raphael wasn't quite ready for the dim lights and noise. Needless to say it was a quick trip.

However, when we went a few weeks ago (he is now 2 1/2) it was a completely different experience. He was entranced. He couldn't get enough of the penguins, loved the opportunities to press buttons, hear noises and hold a hermit crab. Our 10 month old, David, also spent a good deal of time staring at the fishes (and eating snack food from the comforts of his stroller!) The staff was kind to the kids and, at 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning there was plenty of room for him to explore (e.g. run up and down the ramp without knocking people over!) By the time the crowds rolled in at 11:00 he had almost had his fill of the penguins and Myrtle the enormous turtle. I appreciated the fact that teachers get in free with an MTA card and kids under 3 are free as well. Otherwise, it can definitely add up (though it is worth it in many ways.) Parking has also been a large expense, but we discovered an $11.00 lot at Rowe's Wharf. I am not sure if that is a Sunday special, but it made it that much easier, especially now that we have 2 kids in tow.

Ok, so now the FoodieMommy Confession: I wouldn't be so willing to pay for parking if it wasn't for the 2 great food locations that await after an Aquarium visit: The North End and Chinatown. In the past we have gone to our absolute favorite North End sites: Maria's Pastry Shop for her incredible torrone (nougat), sfogliatelle (cheese filled sweet pastry) and her exquisite quaresimali (almond biscotti with a taste of cinnamon) and the original Pizzeria Regina for the best of the best pizza. (I admit that we haven't tried Ernesto's in East Boston which has its own set of devotees.) We really think it is best to eat at Regina's, the crust crisped to perfection in their 100 year old oven. The sauce is tangy and the rich, fresh mozzarella just adds to it all. It isn't great for toddlers and it is almost impossible for infants due to long waits and really tight booths, so if we are with the kids we will buy 2 pizzas, eat one for lunch and freeze one for later.

However, with our kids falling asleep, I decided to take out instead. And one of my other favorite spots is such a hole-in-the-wall that it is simply named "Best Bar B Q Restaurant." It is a Chinese roast meat take-out restaurant on the fringes of Chinatown. You can find it just next door to Hei Lei Moon at 88 Beach Street. The meat is already prepared, so as my husband double-parked (gasp), I was able to run in, chose, get it packed and pay in minutes. And, unlike the pizza, it was just as fabulous at home. The roast chicken is so moist and flavorful that once we got home, David and Raphael ate most of it. We loved the sweet soy sauce that accompanies it, though it is definitely rich. I am addicted to the roast pork-moist, sweet, with the scent of 5 spice powder. They also have a roast "pig" but that was not as sweet and a bit too heavy (and, well, porky) for me. It is all for less than $10.00.


  1. I am so glad I just read this part of your blog! I'm taking my kids to dim sum tomorrow (to China Pearl) in Chinatown, and I always forget that Chinatown isn't far from the Aquarium. I think we'll make a day of it now. Thanks!

  2. To each his own, I just grabbed lunch at "Best Bar B Q" because I work directly across the street, and honestly for me anyway it was bad. Really, REALLY bad.

    The chicken is indeed moist but seemed (to me) to be of very low quality to start with, extremely fatty (reminded me of back when Purdue shot their birds up with steroids).

    To each his own I suppose, for my dollars I'd rather go to Vin Sunh, just down the street.

  3. I have never tried Vin Sunh. I have also heard that the Hong Kong Eatery does a great job with roast meats. Imagine if a place opened that served organic Chinese roast pork and chicken...! Yum!