Thanks to Jordan Rich, friend and talk-show host extraordinaire on WBZ for having me on to chat about Asian cuisine. As promised, now that my sodium level has fallen back down to more reasonable limits, it’s time to discuss.
Just a little comment on my methodology-at each place, I usually try to order similar items, to compare apples to apples. While eating in a large group, I’ll order a bunch of things, but it always has to include “hot and sour soup” and some version of “Kung Pao Chicken”. It may be called “Szechuan Spicy Chicken” or “Spicy Chicken with Peanuts”, but its still “Kung Pao” to me. Eric likes his chicken spicy!
14 different places, 14 different meals and experiences. I ate at some of these places more than once, and tried some different things; I’ve been with people who like to eat jellyfish and duck-web (tastes like…duck-web!)
In ascending order…
Only one place was truly underwhelming-“Taste of China” in Framingham. TOC is more of a take-out joint than sit down, but there are tables available if you want to sit among the floating grease particles coming from the fryolators…The “Kung Pao” was a thin, watery sauce, and oddly, used salted peanuts. It was heavy with water chestnuts and celery (my least favorite vegetable). The hot and sour soup was thin, with some small pieces of tofu and maybe a few shreds of wood-ear mushroom. I like my soup thick with tofu and mushrooms, and this was a cup full of nothing. After I ate there, I was still in the mood for Chinese food…Thumbs down!
From TOC, things could only get better.
“Zheng Garden” was the first of several “whelming” experiences. ZG has taken the place of “Yummy Tummy” (don’t you just loves some of these names?) in the Nobscot region of Framingham. ZG is also mostly take-out, but with about a dozen tables to dine-in. I ate there one Friday night, and I was the only person in the whole place, though several people came in to pick up some orders. ZG is the type of place where you don’t need a menu. Their core items are combination plates, and they have color photos on the wall of all the choices. If you’ve ever been to a take-out style Chinese restaurant, they all have the same photos, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that the food doesn’t look exactly like the pictures. I will say that the execution is better here than TOC, so I give them some credit from trying to bring some Chinese street-cred to Nobscot, which is totally lacking in any street-cred.
And when it comes to Chinese food, you gotta have street-cred…
More tomorrow, as we climb from the nadir to the apex of Chinese cuisine.