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Restaurants & Bars 11

Beijing Star

lipoff | Apr 5, 200703:01 AM

Having now had two full meals at Beijing Star, and I'm ready to write a first report.

Let me say first that I think this is a charming little place, and I hope it continues to receive business. It's cute, it's very authentic, and the people who run it are very nice folks from Beijing. It's not hard to get to, and it's worth a trip!

This is a Northern-style Beijing restaurant, which specializes in savory pastry, noodles, and dumplings.

cong1 you2 bing3 (scallion pancake) was disappointing --- too few scallions, a little too oily, a little too thin, and a little too hard. Very surprising considering this is a Northern style restaurant!

shao1 bing3 jia2 rou4 (sesame cake with beef) was much better, but a little bit too thick and a touch too dry. The beef, however, was of excellent quality.

niu2 rou4 tang1 mian4 (beef noodle soup) was really excellent --- home made noodles and high-quality stewed beef. The broth wasn't quite as flavorful as Wang's or Chili Garden, for example, but the noodles just about made up for that.

The kao3 fu1 (glutinous tofu) was the best I've had in Boston. Just the right consistency, not too sweet, and just sticky enough.

For some reason I've yet to have dumplings there, or several of the other bing3 (cakes or pastries) on the menu --- this definitely requires a return visit, but I figured I'd write up what I've already experienced.

As for meat dishes:

ma2 la4 niu2 jin1 (spicy beef tripe) was very good --- not quite up to the subtlety and depth of the best Sichuan restaurants in the area, but deliciously sharp and spicy.

yang2 rou4 pao1 mo2 (lamb soup) was quite a surprise, and quite a treat. Since New Taste of Asia has gone away, I haven't seen this Xi'an speciality anywhere in Boston, or anywhere else I've been in the United States! This is one of my favorite dishes, and the version here not disappoint. Easily large enough for three people, one serving comes with several hard "buns" that you should rip into small pieces and mix with the soup in your individual bowls. It is not quite as flavorful as New Taste of Asia's versions (nor as flavorful as the best versions in Xi'an), but the lamb is of excellent quality, the bread the proper hardness, and the soup okay.

cong1 bao4 yang1 rou4 (lamb with scallion) was surprisingly good. The lamb was of great quality, and stir fried with scallions that were added at just the right time --- early enough that their flavor carried over the lamb, but late enough that they did not loose their own flavor. Several kinds of Allium species were in the mix, and this made for a surprisingly tasty dish --- I say surprising because this (or it's beef version) is not usually one of my favorites, but this was very well executed.

kou4 pa2 niu2 rou4 (stewed beef short ribs) was truly excellent. This was the first time I've had this particular dish, which consisted of thickly sliced beef short ribs braised and then topped with a flavorful but not overpowering sauce, and served with nicely cooked Chinese cabbage.

dong1 po1 hong2 shao1 rou4 received strong reviews from the table, although I didn't try it. It did look well prepared, but I think the general view was that Qingdao Garden's is somewhat better.

hong2 shao1 dou4 fu quan2 yu2 was an excellent tilapia served whole in a gentle sauce. It was very tender, and the fish quite fresh. Fuloon prepares a greater variety of authentic whole fish dishes, but if this quality is common (I've only had this dish once there), I look forward to trying their fish again.

The only hiccup was trying to order a plate of mixed steamed vegetables. Even in Chinese this didn't get through, and we ended up with a plate of lackluster steamed Shanghai cabbage.

The authentic menu is uncommonly long and diverse and I look forward to continuing to explore it. The weekend brunch menu also looks enticing, and there were a number of specials on the white board in the foyer that we didn't notice until leaving the restaurant (twice!)

In short, this is a good place. It still seems to me that Wang's and Qingdao hold the prizes for the best Northern style restaurants in the area, but I look forward to continuing to explore Beijing Star's extensive menu, which has already yielded several unexpected surprises such as the beef short ribs and lamb stew, even if the bing3 did not wow me.

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