Preview Shojo, Bringing Graffiti Walls and Suckling Pig Bao to Chinatown
Co-owner Brian Moy’s long-term goal is to revamp Boston’s Chinatown beyond late-night dining
Below and to the side of the iconic, old China Pearl sign on Tyler Street in Chinatown, a new sign hangs on the wall for the soon-to-be-open Shojo. Its graffiti-like brushstrokes stick out in stark contrast to the look and feel of the rest of the area. For Brian Moy, co-owner of the forthcoming Asian bar and bistro, it’s a sign of what’s to come. “I want to help revamp Chinatown a bit,” says Moy, who’s also the president of the area’s business association. “My long-term goal is to replicate what the North End has done for Italians.”
We stopped by the space, which is slated to open July 23, to get a preview. Every aspect of Moy’s restaurant—from the design to the building materials and the food and cocktail menus—evinces harmony between tradition and modernity. Read on to learn more about the forthcoming concept (and check out the menus).
The first image patrons are greeted by as they walk through the doors of Shojo is the half-man, half-monkey Japanese mythological creature, pictured above, that Moy derives his restaurant’s name from.
As Moy tells it, the shojo is on a quest for a never-ending sake river, crossing all harsh geographic areas in his search. Alec Strickland, a Boston-area artist and high school friend of Moy’s who painted all the art for Shojo, created the above mural on the large inside wall of the Asian bistro. The mural depicts the Japanese legend, ending in the top right corner, where the shojo has found his eternal sake river. “He’s in paradise over there,” says Moy.
This quest is more than just legend for Moy, however. “A lot of people I spoke with don’t understand different demographics of sake,” he says, which is why Shojo will be offering sake appreciation classes. According to Moy, rice wine is culturally important but the versions we’re familiar with in the States are actually the lowest-quality alcohol available. He and Shojo mixologist Markus Yao are creating a cocktail menu that will not only please but also educate those less familiar with the traditional beverage.
And sake appreciation classes are just the beginning. Moy plans to host many events in his new space, with a Sapporo longboard promotion and Laced skate deck release party already on the calendar. He’s also got a weekly Ladies’ Night in the lineup. Every Friday, a DJ will serenade ladies with old-school crooners, such as Marvin Gaye, and new music alike. The music, says Moy, is something he really focused on, to subtly create a relaxed atmosphere for patrons. That, along with the lighting and bathroom (complete with bamboo sink and joystick faucet), is his Shojo pride and joy.
“I wanted to create a mental snapshot of who I am,” he says. The resulting simple, clean space is one part rustic, one part modern, with reclaimed wood from the 1700′s and 1800′s used throughout. Shojo will be open for not only lunch and dinner but also late-night, when the communal tables will be pushed against the walls and the DJ will come out from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“I’ve been in the restaurant business 21 years, and it’s always been suit-and-tie,” Moy adds. “If I’m going to be here 14 to 16 hours a day, I want to be comfortable. I wanted to target what Boston is missing—a real, chill bar and lounge.”
Through all this, Moy stays respectful of his more-traditional neighbors. He wants to change the perception of Chinatown, he says, not denounce the community. To that end, Shojo will offer at least one meal that’s Buddhist friendly, which means there will be options for vegetarians and vegans too.
Get a peek at some of the menu offerings below (dinner is still being finalized, per Moy):
HAPPY HOUR: 3-6 p.m.
Tuna slider with wasabi mayo, ginger chip
Duck fat fries with sriracha aoili
Crispy calamari with Szechuan peppercorns and shaved jalapeno
Twin dragon eyes (duo of almond-encrusted shrimp and water chestnut meatballs; and black-and-white rice-encrusted shrimp and pork meatballs with salted egg yolk cream filling)
Suckling pig bao with shaved cucumber, house made kimchi
LUNCH (Prices t.b.d.)
Dim Sum Platter
-Shrimp w/Chinese Chive
-Shitake Mushroom, Parmesan Crisp, Tomato Chutney
Crispy Surf Clam Tacos
-Fresh Jicama, Cilantro, Baby Argula
Warm Soba Noodle
-Julienne Fresh Summer Vegetables, Sesame Soy, Pickled Sprout
-Star Anise Consomme, Crispy Egg Noodle, Duck
-Farm Raised Chicken, Green Curry, Lemon Grass , Ginger Rice
-Enoki Mushroom, Radish Sprout, Upland Cress, Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette
Suckling Pig Bao
-Smoked BBQ Sauce, Kimchi, and Shaved Cucumber
LATE NIGHT: 11 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
Popcorn with kimchi clarified butter
Duck Fat French fries
Tempura fried pickle with house made tartar sauce
Crispy calamari with Szechuan pepperscorns and jalapeno
BBQ pork steamed bun, with house made kimchi and shaved cucumber
1840 cognac, sugar, jerry thomas bitters
mezcal, agave, lime, citrus foam. star anise
Prince Edward (spirit based, scotch, sweet, sipping cocktail)
Glenfiddich 12, Lillet Blanc, Drambuie.
Aberdeen Swizzle (house infused spirit, coconut, lime, basil )
House Citrus Infused Gin, Citrus, Coco Creme, Basil.
Long Street Manhattan (whiskey, spirit based cocktail)
Bulliet Rye whiskey, Capano Antica sweet Vermouth, House Orange Bitters, Aromatic Bitters.
Victoria Old Fashioned (spirit based, a rum version of old fashion)
Ron Zacapa 23, Grand Marnier, simple syrup, Regan’s Orange Bitters, Aztec Chocolate Bitters.
DingHow Cocktail (rose sparkling, gin based)
Hendricks Gin, Lillet Rose, lemon, simple syrup, Rose Champagne.
ChopChop Daiquri (daiquri with elderflower foam and light absinthe on fire to top)
Brugal Anejo Rum, Lime, Simple syrup, House Floral Citrus Foam, Absinthe.
Happy Valley Julep ( citrus drink with tequila, Mint)
Milagro Reposado, Agave, Mints.
Lisboa Cocktail (house infused spirit with tea, spirit based)
Earl Grey Infused Gin, Lillet Blanc, Rose Water, Orange Bitters.
97 Handshake (cordial based cocktail, balance sweet, sour, bitter)
Gran Classico Bitter, Capano Antica Sweet, Lemon, Simple syrup.
Fresh Fruit Bellini
Peach puree, sparkling wine
Gin, Cucumber ice, Green chatreuse, Lime, Simple Syrup
Light rum, Dark rum, maitai mix/tiki mix, pineapple juice, sour mix
Chairman’s spiced rum (best product voted by totc 2012), pineapple juice, OJ, Coconut Creme, pineapple & nutmeg
Shojo Fog Cutter (Cuttah)
Ron zacapa 23, Bols, Hennesy, Orgeat, Lime & tea syrup, pineapple soaked in rum/port
Shojo, 9A Tyler Street, Boston, www.shojoboston.com