Ask the Editor: Which Restaurants Serve Asian Fare and Great Cocktails?
This diner loves Shōjō. Where else will they find creative Asian cuisine and classy cocktails?
Welcome to Ask the Editor, Boston magazine’s new dining advice column. Need a restaurant recommendation? Ask a pro.
Shojo in Chinatown is my favorite restaurant in all of Boston. Not only is their cocktail program amazing but their focus on the food make them a standout. Are there other restaurants that you can recommend that serve elevated Asian food with a strong cocktail program?
You are not alone in craving sweet and sour, spicy, umami bites paired with bright and boozy libations—the Asian-inspired gastropub has been a popular business plan in Boston and beyond for the past several years, with Shōjō leading the way.
Blossom Bar opened early this year at Sichuan Garden, tempering the Brookline spot’s fiery dan dan noodles, pork dumplings with chili vinaigrette, and Chongqing dry hot chicken with awesomely herbaceous and fruity cocktails from acclaimed bartender Ran Duan. Unlike at his original Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II in Woburn, which specializes in rum and tiki-style drinks, Blossom Bar highlights Latin American flavors, like the anise-y Colombian spirit aguardiente and papaya in the Angie Valencia. (295 Washington St., Brookline, 617-734-1870, blossombarbrookline.com)
Post up at the Fenway neighborhood’s fun-loving Hojoko for a sake bomb, a cardamom-scented Japanese whiskey highball, or a frozen Piña Colada, and revel in casual bar snacks and sushi from the couple behind Boston’s high-end O Ya. I personally never leave this izakaya without having ordered the blistered shishito peppers with sake-yuzu beurre blanc, and lately, the new tuna taco in a crispy nori shell. (1271 Boylston St., Boston, 617-670-0507, hojokoboston.com)
Elsewhere in the Fenway, outstanding Southeast Asian fare and tiki cocktails shine at Tiger Mama. Chef Tiffani Faison leads the team inspired by her love of the funky flavors of Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam: chili-seared short-rib crudo and the seasonal veggie pad see ew are some of my go-to orders—along with $1 early-weeknight dumplings. (1363 Boylston St., Boston, 617-425-6262, tigermamaboston.com)
Before summer is over, make sure to visit Banyan Bar + Refuge. The Tremont Street patio might just be my favorite al fresco option in the city, thanks to lush landscaping that gives it just enough privacy, the warm glow of paper lanterns, and the outdoor lounge area’s colorful, comfortable cushions. The menu has shareable snacks like KFC bao (Korean-fried cauliflower), as well as personal entrées, and the bar produces stellar cocktails, like a Chinese five-spice Mai Tai, the tequila-pale ale delight that is the Bamboo Harvester, and even a frozen Kirin Ichiban slushie. (553 Tremont St., Boston, 617-556-4211, banyanboston.com)
These suggestions just scratch the surface of an increasingly exciting genre here in Boston, J. Since opening Shōjō, the second-generation Chinatown restaurateurs have built on the idea of quality ingredients and cocktails at their nearby BLR by Shōjō. Uni (formerly Clio) is now a James Beard award-nominated, Best of Boston-winning sushi spot with tropical drinks and beer slushies. Places I have already recommended for group brunch reservations, non-alcoholic mocktails, and allergy-friendly dining may also suit your fancy. And surely some of these spots that dabble in tiki drinks also dabble in Asian-ish bites. Kanpai!