London nostalgia: An awesome cheap dinner outing that is Hing Loon with a bottle of Pinot, crispy aromatic duck, sweet & sour chicken, a big bowl of egg fried rice and szechuan beef.
If you have read my previous post about just how much we loved the nice man at Hing Loon, a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in the middle of Leicester Square in London, you know and understand my love for sweet & sour chicken, cheap food and fun dining experiences.
Since my return to Boston, however, I simply hit a wall in a search for a Hing Loon alternative.
To be fair, I have not tried many Asian restaurants in Allston, especially near Harvard Ave. and Brighton Ave. Nevertheless, my options for authentic Chinese cuisine in downtown Boston mainly include Panda Express and P.F Chang.
I know. Neither is quite…authentic.
Well, at least nothing like what Hing Loon offered.
Luckily, the topic of ethnic cuisine came up in a conversation with one of my co-workers at BU about a few weeks ago. She lives in Central Square, apparently a home to many different “unique” eateries.
Though I have lived in Boston for three years and have explored various food places, for some odd reason, I had never been to Central Square. I suppose you learn (try) something new every day. So I ended up yelping and googling “Best Chinese Restaurants in Boston.”
After clicking around for a few places here and there, I found Mary Chung in Cambridge.
I know this may be an unconventional way of judging whether a place is “authentic” enough or not, but for me, it works. The homepage is in Chinese, and you have to look for a small “English” button to translate the site. Win.
Before I dive into our dining experience at Mary Chung, a small fact to keep in mind. For a picky veggie-free eater (i.e. me), the fact that I love a certain dish from a restaurant means a lot.
I realize peppers, onions, eggplants, scallions and zucchini all add wonderful flavors to food, but sadly, I just cannot tolerate the texture. And unfortunately for me, most Asian dishes incorporate many many many kinds of vegetables. Once in a while, I will eat a few pieces of onions and peppers here and there, but over all, I always have difficulty choosing an entree and devouring everything on the plate.
Little did I know Mary Chung came with a huge surprise – dishes with limited number of vegetables and with only the ones that I like. Real win.
A couple more surprises upon arrival:
They seated us promptly as soon as we walked into the restaurant, despite our number. Seven is a fairly large group.
Quite a hole-in-the-wall location. While the bright green sign outside on Massachusetts Avenue draw attention to Mary Chung’s immediately, other than that, it’s just a small place.
Families! Kids! Everywhere! which obviously means, oh hey, kids-friendly veggie-free dishes.
Seven of us ordered Sweet & Sour Shrimp, Beef & Broccoli, Baby Bokchoy, Chicken and Shrimp Dumplings, Szechuan Chicken and Sesame Chicken. Total cost including tip & tax? $12 per person. Glorious.
My favorite was Sweet and Sour Shrimp. Fried shrimps doused in sweet and sour sauce with pineapples, onions and peppers. Second favorite was beef & broccoli, nothing out of ordinary, but tasty!
Honestly, I did not have the guts to try the spicy (Szechuan) chicken, but according to my friends who love the extra kick in their food, Szechuan didn’t disappoint either.
They were also extremely generous with rice, which we all love, and the wait staff was patient, friendly and helpful.
All in all, what a great experience! I highly recommend Mary Chung’s if you have the sudden cravings for Szechuan food.
Oh yes, I’m pretty sure we found a Hing Loon look-alike in Boston.