The 20 Essential Asian Restaurants*
…and the can’t-miss dishes that will have you trekking all over the city.
* This list excludes all of the following: Chinatown (for those picks, see our Chinatown Guide); sushi sashimi specialists; Indian food; and the usual suspects (do you really need us to tell you, again, how great Myers?+?Chang, East by Northeast, and Blue Ginger are?).
Photos by Anthony Tieuli
The fried quail (pictured above) is excellent, but the showcase at this spot is a classic Vietnamese seven-course feast called bò 7 món. The parade of plates begins with slices of beef cooked tableside and folded into rice-paper wrappers with salty nuoc cham, pickled daikon and carrots, and fresh greens. The meal’s crescendo is a platter of charred la lot leaf–wrapped sausages flanked by scallion-stuffed grilled beef and a massive meatball. Most awe-inspiring, though, is the price—$33 for two.
291 Adams St., Dorchester, 617-265-8889.
Allston and Harvard Square
Korean fried chicken dominates the menu here, but you’ll also find other excellent dishes, like okonomiyaki—a fried seafood pancake that’s sliced into pizzalike wedges and topped with bonito flakes—and spicy kimchi-and-bacon fried rice. Best of all, though, is the restaurant’s beer squid, the cephalopods julienned thin and doused in a caramelized garlic–butter glaze.
123 Brighton Ave., Allston, 61-254-8888, bonchon.com.
The back of the menu is filled with a variety of spicy Szechuan specialties—best among them a peppercorn-studded, mouth-numbing bowl of mapo tofu with black beans and ground beef; smoky slices of double-cooked pork belly tossed with leeks; and al dente shreds of sweet-and-sour cabbage punctuated by red chilies.
41 Riverside Ave., Medford, 781-396-8488, chilligardenmedford.com.
Korean barbecue restaurants, with their beer-friendly, table-grilled meats, are perfect for rowdy celebrations, and this Medford spot is a standout. Hearty dishes like samkyub kimdhi-bokum (a stir-fry of kimchi and pork belly served with steamed tofu) and crisp mung-bean pancakes keep appetites satisfied while the pork bulgogi and kalbi short ribs sizzle on the grill.
27-29 Riverside Ave., Medford, 781-391-5606, chungkiwaboston.com.
Doowee & Rice
Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef Duy (pronounced “Doowee”) Tran has made his culinary name with the wildly popular meat and rice plates at this tucked-away Somerville spot. But just as good are his fluffy bao baos, stuffed with gingery chicken and apple or fall-apart braised pork, and his Vietnamese rice noodles with marinated beef, perked up with fish sauce, cilantro, scallions, peanuts, and fried shallots.
868 Broadway, Somerville, 617-764-1906, dooweeandrice.com.