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a bit more on Zoe's


Restaurants & Bars 4

a bit more on Zoe's

formerly grueldelux | May 15, 2003 12:04 PM

If Limster says something's the Place To Go to, you can bet I'll check it out soon. And so I did. I wanted delivery last night so I swung by during the day to pick up a takeout menu. Unfortunately the three pages of Sichuan specialties that Limster described are not printed on the takeout menu, so I sat at a table and copied most of them down for later perusal. This process, of course, piqued my curiosity and appetite so I had to order at least one thing. Seeking the unusal, I chose Ground Pork With Chinese Pickled Long Bean. This was a very simple dish consisting of an equal mix of quarter inch long slices of narrow pickled long bean and pale nubs of ground pork. A few pieces of sliced fresh red chilis livened things up visually, but didn't provide quite enough heat for my liking. The pork itself had very little flavor, but overall it worked in combination with the pickled beans. I especially liked the contrasting textures. I ate the leftovers cold for breakfast today (wouldn't you?) and I have to say that I like it even better this way. It's a perfect dense but refreshing salad. I'm no expert on these things (and for all I know this dish is utterly common). But for me it was a tasty new discovery.
With the dishes I had delivered later, the highlight was Fried Whole Fish Sichuan Style, despite the fact that I broke my own rule about having things delivered that are supposed to be crisp. Well, it wasn't cripy but it sure was tasty. After reading Eric Asimov's description yesterday of mountains of dried chiles in a Sichuan dish, I'd hesitate to call this a mountain of chiles. Perhaps a foothill. I stopped counting at sixty and had only covered half the plate. Fairly standard preparation, I suppose - tons of spicy brown sauce over top, a tangle of strips of assorted plant materials, dried chiles in abundance. But the execution was superb, the fish perfectly cooked and the sauce intensely flavorful, with the additions of thin length-wise slices of fresh green chilis.
The other big hit was, indeed, the double cooked pork. I hesitate to further reveal my ignorance, but this dish was not what I was expecting at all. I think of double cooked pork like something from the kitchen of our friend General Gao - crunchy batter fighting it out with gloopy sauce (a battle I'll Tivo any day.) This was something totally different. The pork is thick slices of pork belly, streaked like fresh bacon. I'm guessing it was cooked first then sliced for the final wokking. Served in another rich brown sauce. I could have used a bit more browning on the pork to add another dimension to the rich chew, but the heaps of green peppers added a pleasant contrast and kept things light.

I'm more of a Central/Inman Cantabridgian, so this place is unfortately just a bit out of walking distance. Nonetheless, I think it will become my own Place To Go for Chinese so I can further explore the menu.

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