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Boston’s Asian Cuisine Scene

by Clint Hamblin
Contributor
Friday Dec 2, 2011
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As far back as I can remember, selecting one from column A and two from column B was always the great adventure of eating in a Chinese restaurant. Dinners came with side orders of pickled beets, coleslaw and a large loaf of Italian bread. This was Chinese style in Rhode Island. Boston wasn’t much different with many small Chinese restaurants featuring 99¢ preset lunch specials and $1.49 dinners featuring huge combination plates, French Fries and that huge loaf of bread - great for students on a budget.

These days outside of Boston’s Chinatown, there aren’t as many Chinese restaurants but there are tons of Asian restaurants featuring combinations of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese food. Japanese food has become so popular; sports bars serve Sushi in the form of rolled Maki along with their selection of nachos.

The high and dramatic ceilings at Q Restaurant, located on the edge of Chinatown at 660 Washington Street (www.thequsa.com) are not what you would expect in an Asian restaurant. Q offers a diverse menu of many Asian delicacies including Sushi, a variety of Mongolian Hot Pots and many other Chinese delights. Many of the dishes are really works of art receiving oo’s and ah’s when placed on the table.

Dragon Maki, is toasted seaweed wrapped around rice and includes avocado, Tobiko or colorful caviar and other pickled vegetables shaped into a dragon with simulated eyes and fins. At Q, Dragon Maki is a dramatic and delicious appetizer. It’s not unusual for customers to enjoy the artistic presentation so much that they’ll take several pictures before starting their meal.

The Asian style cocktails include traditional and creative concoctions and the service is better than good - it’s terrific. The variety of dishes will satisfy the most diverse group of tastes. When planning dinner in Boston, Q Restaurant should definitely be on your list of must visit restaurants.


Dumpling Café, also located in Chinatown (www.dumplingcafe.com) at 695 Washington Street, offers traditional Chinese dishes along with many styles of dumplings. Perhaps one of the most reasonably priced new cafeteria-style restaurants in Boston, Dumpling Cafe will fill you up with their great variety of delicious dumplings or familiar Chinese dishes such as Lobster with ginger and scallions or salt and pepper frog. Yup, I said frog. Don’t worry! It all tastes like chicken.

Samurai Boston, an elegant and fun subterranean eatery located at 827 Boylston Street, across from the Boylston Street entrance to the Prudential Shopping Center (www.samurai-boston.com ), is one of the best Boston has to offer and features Japanese and Korean dishes. When you enter the restaurant, it feels as though you’ve been transported to Kyoto, Japan. Thanks to the careful design plans of co-owner Joy Lee, Samurai Boston features a cozy Japanese ambiance with low ceilings, intimate booths and a colorful Japanese décor. The restaurant has great service offering a variety of dishes that are both traditional and original.

Omakase or chef’s choice sushi includes Tuna Maki wrapped with egg sheet, Nigiri including tuna, Mackerel fluke, Toru (fatty tuna), Yellow Tail, Hotategai (raw scallops), Ame-ebi (raw sweet shrimp) and Uni (Sea Urchin). If you’re not familiar with these exotic delicacies, don’t be afraid to try them. They are of the highest quality available and definitely worthy of your attention and because it’s the chef’s choice, they change every day.


Ask Takuro, one of the best informed waiters at Samurai Boston, for a ginger martini or Sockatini or try the Shochu or potato liquor, a smooth drink a bit lighter than vodka. The many cocktails and sake drinks available pair perfectly with Samurai’s remarkable cuisine. The service is impeccable.

Surprisingly, my favorite dish was Spinach Ohitashi or baby spinach leafs barely blanched with a soy and grated ginger sauce. This dish is so simply prepared and so delicious, I could have eaten two. You can’t go wrong with the Black Sea bass Sashimi, a brilliant white fish with a delectable light taste. Every bite melts in your mouth. This is like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.

Samurai Boston offers many Korean specialties including Bibimbap, a spicy vegetable dish served over rice, quite robust and available as vegetarian or with beef. It’s a meal all by itself.

There are many Asian restaurants in Boston that have interesting menus. Be brave and try a few but definitely include Q Restaurant, Dumpling Café and Samurai Boston. You can’t go wrong with these excellent Boston restaurants.


Clint Hamblin has written features and columns for the Back Bay Sun, Beacon Hill Times, Boston Courant, Boston Spirit and Improper Bostonian Magazines and Boston’s Newbury Street Guide. Clint is a former Broadway dancer, an award winning director/choreographer and has worked for 5 years as a Boston theatre and dance critic. He has written features covering computer technology, Boston Museums, social subjects, restaurants, events, Broadway and film star biographies and features Boston restaurants in his Great Chefs of Boston and Clint Eats columns. (www.ClintHamblin.com - www.ClintEats.com).


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