Well, the time has come for the great reveal…the apex of Wok About 2009. But, before the big moment, let me digress and reminisce about a few joints that hold a special place in my heart.
First, no discussion about Chinese food could be complete, for me, or some MIT friends, without an honorable mention to “House of Roy.” Oh Roy, we hardly knew ye…
As I mentioned in past posts, “HOR” was THE Chinese restaurant of my youth. For many years, multiple Sundays a month were spent driving into to Tyler Street in Boston’s Chinatown to enjoy the sumptuous delights of Roy’s chefs…the apex, or nadir, depending on your perspective, was my 13th birthday, when I got to eat my own “House of Roy Special”, which I hastily consumed and promptly gave back in the alley next door. Ahh…the memories.
As I got older and was able to drive myself, many a fun Friday night was spent at the Jade Fountain in Marlboro with some of my good friends. The food there was barely passable, as I recall, but it was always a fun trip, whether in my Plymouth Valiant, Lou’s AMC Eagle or rental Dodge Horizon with a flat tire…it was one of the few places around that offered a “combination plate” for dinner. I remember that the food was served a generous portion of fried rice, and an even more generous portion of MSG!
As I got older and my Asian cuisine palate expanded, it was necessary for me to find acceptable places while away at college. Thankfully my fraternity brother Scott introduced me to “Sze’s” in Northampton. “Sze’s” was a fairly high-end place…the had a nice buffet but only for Sunday brunch. Although it seemed unusual the first time I went, there was something quite pleasurable in a Chinese brunch buffet. Instead of omelets, the made custom “moo-shi” pancakes, with a choice of fillings. The wait staff wore black pants, white shirts and black vests, and soft Asian-style music played in the background. Only fifteen minutes from Amherst, this was seriously sating my Asian cuisine needs.
Also worthy of mention in Amherst in “Panda East.” The original Panda was in Northampton, not far from Sze’s, but they opened a sister restaurant over in Amherst; I guess they thought people wouldn’t drive the 15 minutes down Route 9. I spent a lot of time at Panda, especially with Mrs. Palate and Sister Palate. While their food wouldn’t surprise anyone, I recall it being a nice place for your Chinese cuisine fix…I do note that Panda East is still open. Next time I’m in Amherst, this is a must eat, along with a burger at The Pub and dessert at Bart’s. My mouth is watering just thinking about this.
At last…the moment you’ve been waiting for…the big reveal…up next, after the break.