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Chowin' with a Chicagoan.


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Restaurants & Bars 10

Chowin' with a Chicagoan.

Nab | May 10, 2013 08:18 PM

A good pal from Chicago came to visit, and we had some vittles about town.

From Logan was a straight shot up to Malden where we stopped in at Pastel for a coffee and pão de queijo, killing a few minutes before Biryani Park unlocked their doors for the day. There's an enormous menu of pastels, sandwiches, salgados, soups and juices which will be further explored the next time I have stomach space to spare in Malden/Everett.

Biryani Park was its typical stunning self. Lamprais comprised of myriad interesting flavours, all supremely spiced, each with a distinct profile. They were out of samba rice, but they have a good hand with basmati as it is. String hoppers with hodi and coconut sambol was a light supplement to an already belly-busting lunch but was summarily snarfed.

A coupla fortifying whiskies at Citizen Public House killed enough time to open the window for seats at the bar at ICOB as the first inning rolled out. Dozens of oysters were immaculately shucked by Eduardo and his sidekick, these guys are hardcore pros like no other. Oysters and a Hendricks is the height of gastronomic experience for my pally, and I'm pretty sure he had a bit of an epiphany that night.

The next morning called for soondubu at, where else but Kaju Tofu House. Seafood bowl (extra spicy) was a marvel. The owner from California was paying a visit and I don't know if that had anything to do with it but they sure knocked us out that day. Wonderfully integrated, seafood is the only way to go. I strayed on this occasion and ordered the beef & octopus (extra spicy) and it just simply didn't impart anything beyond (good) protein the way seafood elevates the bowl.

My friend is something of a ramen pro, having written pretty extensively on the topic, so I sent him out to Yum Wo Katare (I had another dinner obligation). He had a horrific time. One-dimensional porkfat broth, a massive blob of undercooked and clumpy noodles, spent chashu, I never heard the end of it.

The next day didn't bring much redemption in Revere where Kelly's bellies were miraculously devoid of flavour, though the beef was a bit more of a success. They really assemble that sandwich with care.

Gene of Gene's Flatbread Cafe is a great personality, a total hound who'll jaw about his food with you in the same obsessed way. Nuclear garlicky hand-pulled noodles are a good chew, though I preferred the springy spaghetti noodles of his house noodle soup.

More oysters were needed and slurped at East Coast Grill prior to ankling it down to Muqueca for their house special seafood muqueca and a feast of feijoada that required at least a few digestifs at Brick & Mortar and Green Street Grill.

The last day brought more soupin' as we rolled down Dorchester Ave for a bowl of bun mam and bun rieu at Hien Vuong. Bun rieu was nice, though I've yet to find one sufficiently crabby here in town. Bun mam, accompanied by a gorgeous plate of shaved vegetables topped with banana blossom, was strongly sweet, far from funky or stanky in any way, my suspicions were confirmed when I asked the waitress - we'd just been gringoed beyond belief. I asked for another bowl, done right, and it was an entirely different dish - fishy, funky, but really well-rounded, with delicately poached skin-on salmon that was totally absent from the gringo bowl. One must grab the steering wheel here when ordering, we witnessed a couple of other gringo hate crimes during lunch.

Later that afternoon we found ourselves walking past Summer Shack (Back Bay) and so we rolled the dice, ordering just two oysters each (Bluepoints and South Bay Blondes) which, much to our surprise, were just flat-out flawless.

Capped off the visit with an ol' reliable, gamjatang at Korea Garden, one of my very favourite dishes anywhere. A few last cocktails at Ellum and we called it.

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