The 20 Essential Asian Restaurants*
…and the can’t-miss dishes that will have you trekking all over the city.
The rattling of chili flakes, dried red chilies, and Szechuan pepper-corns in a spoonful of FuLoon’s Chongqing-style chicken (pictured) provides a vibrant preview of the heat you’re about to experience. The dish is worth breaking a sweat for—as is the cold “bang bang” chicken in chili oil. Just make sure you have some of the restaurant’s garlicky cucumbers nearby to cool you down.
375 Main St., Malden, 781-388-3338, fuloonrestaurant.com.
Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Café
The main draw here, oddly enough, is a bowl of fat, hand-pulled noodles (pictured below) accented with chili oil, cilantro, and a scoop of minced garlic. Also good is the lamb stew, an interactive experience that requires ripping up flatbread rounds and dropping them into a bowl, which is then whisked away and filled with a lamb-flavored broth and slices of meat.
257 Littleton Rd., Chelmsford, 978-256-6789, genescafe.com.
Jo Jo Taipei
The specialty here is Taiwanese, of course, which means excellent basil-scented eggplant, broth-filled xiao long bao (soup dumplings), and beef-stuffed scallion pancakes. But there are also masterful Szechuan dishes, like wontons smothered in sesame paste and chili oil, and tender fish fillets in a gravylike spicy stew.
103 Brighton Ave, Allston, 617-254-8889, jojotaipeiboston.com.
Kaju Tofu House
This Allston newcomer has a singular specialty: boiling-hot tofu stews called sundubu. The best among them is the spicy kimchi-oyster variety, like a Korean version of clam chowder. Pair it with a platter of the vegetable-studded sweet-potato noodles known as japchae (pictured) for maximum effect.
58 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617-208-8540, kajutofuhouse.com.
Vietnamese restaurants are to Dot Ave. what Irish pubs are to Southie. So what sets this hole in the wall apart? The goi ga salad to start, with its poached chicken, cabbage, carrots, crushed peanuts, and fresh mint in a light, tangy dressing. Also good are the thit kho to, or pork with a coffeelike caramel glaze, and, of course, the pho.
198 Adams St., Dorchester, 617-436-1908, pho2000boston.com.