I received a menu from "Asian Noodle Stix" dropped outside my door, and I gave it a quick glance. It looked like typical Chinese American fare, but I looked a little closer at the menu and became somewhat intrigued. Because I also happened to driving by that area (extreme West Cambridge, just off Mt. Auburn Street) I ordered three items from them today for lunch:
Scallion pancakes were completely unremarkable overly fried dreck. The dipping sauce was unremarkable too --- a bit too weak and too strongly vinegary.
However, the vegetarian dumplings were beautiful little hand-wrapped morsels that were delicately steamed. The vegetables were fresh, the wrappers were thin, and the cooking was timed perfectly. It was an excellent example of a "hong kong" style dumpling. (Even if dumplings are not native to south China, in the way they are to the dongbei region, there is a certain style to dumplings found in southern China today).
The Mala Chicken from the "Real Szechwan and Hunan Section" section of the menu was not quite a "real" dish from Sichuan, but it was not an americanized dish either. It had real Sichuan peppers and real hua jiao, and was definitely both spicy and numbing. The chicken was of decent quality, and there were some excellent pieces of cabbage inside, but the whole dish was covered in this gloppy corn-starch laden sauce.
That's all I had today. I would definitely get the vegetarian dumplings again, and would be motivated to try some of their dim sum items. The menu lists six dim sum items, and there were photographs on the wall of both "crystal shrimp dumplings" and "small pork buns". On a white board the following three additional items were listed: "roast pork buns", "soy beans dumplings" and "coconut dumpling". The woman behind the counter confirmed that these items were available any time --- not just on weekends or in the mornings.
I can't quite figure this place out. It's a little store front with two small booths inside. It does not look like a pleasant place to sit and eat at all. The heat was basically off --- behind the counter the staff were wearing coats except for the chef who was standing in front of the woks. The menu is mostly unimaginative, but the "Real Szechwan and Hunan Section" seems to have some reasonably authentic dishes. It might even be possible to get them to hold the corn starch. The staff was speaking Cantonese, however, so I would not be surprised if the Cantonese dishes, such as the dim sum was actually very good.
Is this place Chowish? Maybe. More research is to be done! If any one has tried the dim sum items, I'm sure we'd love to hear about it. I will give them a try again sometime.