The 20 Best Chinese Restaurants in Boston


best restaurants in boston

A delicious spread from Sichuan Garden II at the Baldwin. / Photo by Michael Piazza for Best Restaurants 2014

Boston’s Chinese food landscape has evolved a lot since Chinatown was established about five generations ago, and even since Joyce Chen enlightened the Massachusetts masses to the glories of “Peking ravioli.” (Besides operating a group of eponymous restaurants in Cambridge, Chen was a contemporary of another J.C. who made traditional home-cooking more accessible via her PBS show and a best-selling cookbook.)

These days, Greater Boston brims with not only sweet and saucy American-style Chinese food takeout, but also legendary dim sum houses, Cantonese-style seafood, fresh hand-pulled noodles, Hong Kong-style pastries, fiery Sichuan cuisine, juicy soup dumplings, and even the funky fermented flavors of the Hunan region. And it’s not just in Chinatown. From Allston to Somerville and Malden to Quincy, here’s where to find the best Chinese food around Boston, whether you’re looking to dine in or take out.

The New England lobster bake from the large-format menu at BLR by Shojo

BLR by Shojo is a great option for family-style feasting on dishes like this “New England lobster bake.” / Photo by Kubica & Nguyen

BLR by Shōjō

Brian Moy practically grew up at his family’s Best Little Restaurant before taking over operations of it 2016, a few years after cofounding Shōjō. The second-generation Chinatown restaurateur revamped the basement restaurant and its traditional menu, now overseen by Shōjō Group executive chef Mike Stark. With family-style dishes like Maine lobster wontons, scallion pancakes with roasted bone marrow, and Sichuan “Bolognese” with house-made noodles, the Chinese-American fare is a little bit familiar but refreshingly modern. In more recent years, BLR has introduced mix-them-yourself cordial cocktails, and awesome large-format options like Peking duck, and an aromatic take on a New England lobster bake.

13A Hudson St., Chinatown, Boston, 617-338-4988, blrbyshojo.com.

Chef Chang’s on Back Bay

This subterranean spot retained some of the provincial decor from its former life as a wine shop—so you’ll slurp hand-pulled noodles, sample pork burgers, and savor other Xi’an-style fare against a backdrop of staid Victorian townhouses. Chef Chang’s closed for some time before reopening in early 2019 with a pared-down menu, but its spicy, northwestern-regional cuisine remains the best Chinese food option in the Back Bay.

30 Massachusetts Ave., Back Bay, Boston, 617-236-1888.

Chili Square

Quincy is one of “the other Chinatowns” around Boston, with nearly a quarter of its population comprised of Chinese immigrants. That means speciality shops, grocery stores, and Chinese restaurants abound in the city—and this hole-in-the-wall spot in the Wollaston neighborhood is well worth the Red Line ride out there. Go for chewy, hand-pulled noodles swimming in an aromatic beef broth; the fried fish filet; and spicy specialties like mala-style duck wings.

666 Hancock St., Quincy, 617-472-8888, thechilisquare.com.

Five Spices House

A multi-year Best of Boston winner in Chinatown and a newer, second location in Cambridge are both great options for Scoville-scaling Sichuan dishes, like thin-skinned wontons drenched in neon-orange chili oil, a signature whole-roasted fish, and spicy dry pot (a wok-charred stir-fry) with a choice of veggies and proteins.

58 Beach St., Chinatown, Boston, 617-574-8888; 546 Mass Ave., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-714-3339, 5spiceshouse.com.

Gene Wu

Gene Wu of Gene’s Flatbread Cafe making noodles at his Boston shop. / Photo by Toan Trinh for “Cheap Eats in Boston From A-Z”

Gene’s Flatbread Cafe

Check out Gene Wu’s small Boston noodle house or either one of his two suburban locations: The thick and chewy noodles he learned to make in his native Xi’an—whether tossed with cumin-scented lamb, or chili oil, cilantro, and garlic—are properly consumed fresh at one of his no-nonsense storefronts. But as the business name suggests, hand-held flatbread sandwiches filled with shredded pork are also worth a taste.

86 Bedford St., Boston, 617-482-1888; 175 Littleton Rd., Unit A, Westford, 978-692-3406; 466 Main St., Woburn, 781-938-6888, genescafe.com.

Golden Garden

As one of “the other Chinatowns” around Boston, Malden is home to some awesome options for dim sum and more. This large restaurant is know for both reliably delicious Americanized takeout staples, as well as authentic, Northeastern Chinese-style dishes, like stewed chicken with mushroom; sour napa cabbage with pork belly; and sautéed pork with clear, chewy bean mung noodles and a soy-based sauce.

9 Highland Ave., Malden, 781-322-3708, goldengardenmalden.com.

Hand-pulled noodles with cumin, peppers, onions, and lamb at Home Taste in Watertown. / Photograph by Jenna Skutnik for “Top New Restaurants 2016: Found in Boston

Home Taste

Wife-and-husband duo Ying and Kai Chen bring their “home taste” of the central Chinese province of Henan to Watertown and Arlington—that means thick, peppery, stir-fried wheat noodles; squiggly Chongqing “small noodles” topped with minced meat, peanuts, and bright orange chili oil; and hamburgers (or flatbread sandwiches) filled with aromatic stewed lamb.

1312 Mass Ave., Arlington, ​781-646-8080/781-646-8081; 58 Mt Auburn St., Watertown, 617-923-0227/617-923-6227, hometastema.com.

Jo Jo Taipei

This place is a dumpling lover’s delight, with spicy Sichuan wontons, rich and luscious soup dumplings, fluffy steamed pork bao, and more pocket-sized specialties on the “homemade flour corner” of the menu. But as the frequent crowds attest, it’s an Allston mainstay thanks to a range of specialties, like three-cup cuttlefish (braised in a cup each of soy, wine, and water), basil-scented wok-fried eggplant, and very spicy beef noodle soup.

103 Brighton Ave., Boston, 617-254-8889, jojotaipei.com.

Mary Chung

Since the 1980s, Joyce Chen alum Mary Chung has welcomed droves of MIT students and Central Square types for dishes like spicy dun dun noodles with chicken, Sichuan beef salad, and the regularly available special, egg roll-like hand pies filled with crispy radishes or savory chives. Don’t miss the suan la chow show, which are pork wontons served with bean sprouts in a spicy, soy-based hot and sour sauce.

460 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-864-1991.

Mei Mei

Chef Irene Li and her siblings have redefined Chinese-American takeout in Boston with a delightful menu full of dumplings, snacks, and scallion pancakes, reinvented with regional ingredients and twists inspired by their Brookline upbringing. Go for the “dumpling party”—two each of lemongrass pork, Three Sisters, and creamy potato-and-cheese-filled pierogi dumplings, so you don’t have to choose between the beloved morsels—and a scallion pancake sandwich topped with a house-made condiment like cranberry hoisin sauce.

506 Park Dr., Boston, 857-250-4959, meimeiboston.com.

Myers + Chang

Myers + Chang at night. / Photo provided

Myers & Chang

Dishes like lemongrass chicken wings, quinoa bokkeumbap, and a bloomin’ “fun yun” with Filipino-inspired flavors certainly wander around the world, and we’re always glad to go along for the ride. But the greatest hits at Boston’s original Asian gastropub—such as Mama Chang’s pork and chive dumplings, tea-smoked ribs, everything on the dim sum brunch menu—are firmly rooted in chef-founder (and bonafide superstar) Joanne Chang’s Taiwanese-American background. The house-made fortune cookies also make this one of our go-tos when craving this kind of comfort food.

1145 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-5200, myersandchang.com.

Peach Farm

Figuratively diving right into the restaurant’s fish tank to select your own lobster is a quintessential dining experience in Boston, and not only because this stalwart spot is open ’til 3 a.m. Peach Farm’s Hong Kong-style Cantonese seafood is among the absolute best, from the garlicky scallops on the half-shell to whole-steamed black fish with ginger and soy.

4 Tyler St., Chinatown, Boston, 617-482-1116, peachfarmboston.com.

Cumin lamb with cilantro at Qingdao Garden.

Cumin lamb with cilantro at Qingdao Garden. / Photo by Tim Sackton on Flickr/Creative Commons

Qingdao Garden

As in northern China, where wheat is a staple crop, dumplings and noodles abound on the menu at this northern Cambridge favorite. Other must-order menu items range from crunchy stir-fried vegetables, to crispy fried flounder, to spicy lamb hot pot—and anything from the “Northern Style” section.

2382 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-492-7540, qingdaogarden.net.

Shabu-Zen

Head to either busy Boston location for a fun night out of cook-your-own hot pot loaded with fresh, thinly sliced meats, vibrant vegetables, and richly flavored broths (including vegan-friendly options). Soup selections include Thai and Japanese flavors, but we suggest the spicy Mongolian-style broth, which gets even more complex as all the tasty ingredients are dipped in by the friends around the table.

16 Tyler St., Chinatown, Boston, 617-292-8828; 80 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-782-8888, shabuzen.com.

Shanghai Gate

This unassuming Allston spot is where to go for simple, well-made traditional dishes like porky soup dumplings, rice wine and ginger-scented seafood, and tender lion’s head meatballs. A savory staple of Shanghainese cuisine, the savory meatballs are served here as a meaty “casserole” with steamed bok choy.

204 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617-566-7344, shanghaigateboston.com.

sichuan garden II

The Baldwin mansion in Woburn that’s now home to Sichuan Garden II and the Baldwin Bar. / Photo by Alex Lau

Sichuan Garden II at The Baldwin

For very good reasons, second-generation owner Ran Duan’s cocktail program gets top billing in discussions about this Woburn destination. But the Sichuan-style American Chinese food his parents first started serving there—like fiery dan dan noodles, pork dumplings with chili vinaigrette, and Chongqing dry hot chicken—are worthy foils for all that rum. Blossom Bar, a sister dine-in/takeout spot and cocktail bar in Brookline Village, is just as great—but it lacks the draw of being located inside a historic, Colonial-era mansion.

2 Alfred St., second floor, Woburn, 781-935-8488, thebaldwinbar.com; 295 Washington St., Brookline, 617-734-1870, blossombarbrookline.com.

Sumiao Hunan Kitchen

Getting takeout here is a good move, but the bright, modern, and beautiful interior decor of this Kendall Square spot hints at the bold flavors to come. Hunaese cuisine is spicy, but not in the same, mouth-numbing way that categorizes Sichuan flavors more commonly found around Boston. Taste the play of fermentation, heat, vinegar, and smoke through colorful dishes like fried cauliflower and pork belly with duo jiao (a chopped-chili sauce), “beef on fire” with black rice, and purple yam bao buns.

270 Third St., Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-945-0907, sumiaohunan.com.

fried Taiwanese-style pork chop at Taiwan Cafe

The fried Taiwanese-style pork chop stays juicy and succulent at Taiwan Cafe. / Photo by Chelsea Kyle

Taiwan Café

Chef Peter Wang has grown a “mini juicy buns” empire thanks to his Dumpling Café, located elsewhere in Chinatown; Dumpling Kingdom in Allston; and Dumpling Palace in the Back Bay. But those soft buns filled with molten, porky soup also star at his street-food focused spot, which first opened in 1998. Other authentic Taiwanese dishes found here are the equally craveable crispy pan-fried dumplings, a flaky scallion pancake rolled up with roast beef, succulent fried pork chops, garlicky sautéed watercress, and more.

34 Oxford St., Chinatown, Boston, 617-426-8181, taiwancafeboston.com.

Winsor Dim Sum Café

Rather than roving carts, here you’ll check off your small-plate selections on a slip of paper, hand it to a server, and be rewarded with a feast of shumai, spare ribs in black bean sauce, wok-charred chow fun noodles, Sichuan-style beef stomach, and more.

10 Tyler St., 617-338-1688, winsordimsumcafe.com.

Zoe’s Chinese Restaurant

Head to Somerville for flavorful Peking ravioli, mouth-numbing mapo tofu, and dry-fried beef or chicken with hot peppers. There’s a sizable selection of authentic Sichuan and Hunanese dishes on the menu, alongside decent versions of takeout classics like orange chicken and lo mein packed with crisp and fresh vegetables.

296 Beacon St., Somerville, 617-864-6265, zoeschinese.com.