Friday, February 12, 2010

How I Love Thee Chinatown: A Chinatown Tour

One of my favorite activities is exploring Chinatown. Taking my children gives me a chance to slowly introduce them to the concept that everyone's world view and culture isn't the same. It also allows them to try out new foods, new treats and smells without getting on a plane. The hardest part for me is always trying to find balance between sticking with my favorite places and dishes and trying something new. Here is my short list:

It is hard to resist the Vietnamese restaurant Xinh Xinh for wonderful soups, full of homemade broth. The enormous bowls, topped with fresh herbs and meats are very inexpensive. With fresh rolls, it is a perfect meal. The avocado shake makes you understand how avocado is actually a sweet, creamy fruit. The limeade is both tart and refreshing. The service is always warm, helpful and kind.

One of my favorite dishes is from Taiwan Cafe: mustard greens with tofu and edamame. At lunch you can order this with rice and soup for less than $10.

If I want take out meat, I stop at Chinatown Roast Meat for soy sauce chicken and barbecued pork on beds of rice. At other times, I head to Hong Kong Eatery to sit down to a bowl of broth filled with noodles and an assortment of toppings. On a recent visit I enjoyed the roast pork and dumplings filled with shrimp and pork.

Lu's Sandwich Shop, located in a jewelry store of all places, is great for take out.
I always get a banh mi ( a Vietnamese sandwich in a french roll, filled with a protein, vegetables, spicy mayonaisse and fresh cilantro).
Dessert is one of the many technicolor sweets made from rice flour.

On weekends, our family goes to Hei La Moon or Chau Chau City for Dim Sum, where I get my fill of the tofu in ginger syrup and more steam buns filled with custard or chicken.

I make sure to stop at the C-Mart grocery store before I head home for enormous bags of sticky rice, canned lychees, frozen dumplings and steam buns, pressed tofu, inexpensive soup spoons, bags of rice noodles, Pearl River Light Soy Sauce and Hi Chew mango candies (a cross between Starbursts and delicious mangoes).

What I love most is that no matter how many times I go, there is still more to discover and, of course, more places to eat. I have yet to try the Gourmet Dumpling House, Empire Garden or Jumbo Seafood, among others. Any suggestions?

Xinh Xinh, 7 Beach Street, Boston, 617-422-0501
Hei La Moon, 88 Beach Street, Boston, 617-338-8813
Taiwan Cafe, 34 Oxford Place, Boston, 617-426-8181
Hong Kong Eatery, 79 Harrison Ave, 617-423-0838
Lu's Sandwich Shop, 2 Knapp St., 617-292-1453
C-Mart, 692 Washington Street, 617-988-8118


  1. mmm, love the Vietnamese soups on winter days like that, was craving it yesterday @ lunch (but "settled" for brunc @ Masa).

  2. HI, love your site, so informative, inspiring and helpful...last weekend took my family down to chinatown...went to Taiwan City, had the mustard greens/tofu/edamame dish, sweet and sour chicken and duck with soy sauce, all were a big hit, also stopped for bubble tea (my two kids love the stuff) at dang khang...and of corse hit the c-mart-- was very crowded. I could have spent an hour easy, but hubbie and kids were spent so I had to hurry!
    thanks for all the tips, keep em coming
    a big fan, Claudine

  3. David: I always crave Vietnamese soups, but have yet to understand why their aren't more places to get great Vietnamese food. Pho Viet's at the Super 88 is one of my favorite haunts.

    Claudine: Thank you so much. These kinds of comments inspire me to keep writing. We were in Chinatown this weekend, too, enjoying Dim Sum at Hei La Moon. C-Mart can be packed. You might want to try Ming's near Myers and Chang on the edge of Chinatown. Or H-Mart in Burlington for another fun experience with kids.

  4. I miss banh mi from my days working in Chinatown in NYC. I have got to check this place out! Thanks for another great tip.