By Todd Barron @ FoodieCuisine.com
I have been in the hotel in Boston for four days and it is time to venture out more than a few blocks. Sure, it is raining, and the temperature has not broken sixty degrees all week, but I am tired of going to nearby places.
I find myself wandering around the financial district, past City Hall, and through Boston Common Park. Noon is fast approaching and lunch comes to mind. I check Urban Spoon and Yelp for something close. A common theme materializes: Gourmet Dumpling House in Chinatown.
I walk through the park and turn left towards Chinatown. “Whoop whoop.” Hmm, the sound of police sirens going on and off, usually indicating to a crowd to disperse. There are several people hanging around everywhere, apparently for no reason.
Many people are panhandling and bothering others by asking for money or making lewd comments and gestures. I put on the meanest face I can summon and proceed past the crowds for several blocks, unaccosted. It is rare times like these that I am happy my wife is not with me. She is busy in training at a conference while I get to roam around the city with a trusty Zagat Restaurant Guide and a Boston 2010 Tour Book in my pocket.
I find a pack of business people walking to lunch and follow them for a few blocks towards my destination. They break off before I get to Chinatown, just in time for me to walk into a Police bust. In front of me is a Paddywagon, complete with several police standing around, and some poor soul in handcuffs being loaded into the vehicle. Luckily for me, most everyone is busy watching the arrest as I pass on by without issue.
I walk past two women who are talking to themselves, and another woman who seems to be in worse shape, past a few Pho restaurants (I must be getting close,) and arrive on a narrow street in front of the Gourmet Dumpling House. It is tiny, just like the reviews mention, but I walk in and obtain a seat.
I have not lived in a large city in many years (I used to live in Philadelphia) and forgot how they put you at four-top tables, next to strangers. I do not mind but it is a minor shock when they seat me at the same small table next to a couple. It is crowded and actually quite warm, even with the lower temperatures outside.
The waitress puts down a dumpling menu and a regular menu, drops off some hot tea, and walks away while I figure out what I want. I had read about the Pork and Leek Dumplings ($6.25) on the review sites, but the General Gau’s Chicken Lunch Special ($7.25) also sounds good. What the heck, I order both.
The Pork and Leek Dumplings come out first, with a side of sauce, and they look great. The dumplings are clearly made by hand and are steaming hot. Amazing is the first word that comes to mind when I try the first dumpling. It is soft, almost airy, and very tender. The pork and leek meatball in the middle is well seasoned and very tender.
At this point I wish my wife were with me to enjoy the dumplings. It is a huge portion for such a cheap price and I am only able to eat about half of them before the sensation of being full sets in.
About half way through my dumpling adventure the waitress brings out a huge plate of General Gau’s Chicken. The plate is full, with large boneless pieces of fried chicken, covered in a gooey General Gau’s sauce. General Gau’s sauce is a brown sweet sauce typically made with oranges and dried red peppers and this one is no different.
The only complaint I have at this point is the lack of a cutting tool. I do not have a knife with me, as they do not allow them on airplanes, and resort to pulling my chicken apart with my chopsticks. The effort is well rewarded as the chicken is crispy and the sauce has an immense amount of flavor to it. The hot pepper taste bursts through and the sugar has been cooked down to sweet perfection.
I cannot finish my lunch, even half of it, but have no place to take the leftovers anyway. At a total of $15 the meal is a steal, making me wish I lived in Boston. The area is, well, interesting, but worth the visit. I can see myself visiting again the next time I am in Boston.
Disclaimer: I am sure those of you who live in Boston are thinking “C’mon, Chinatown is harmless!”, and you may be right, but my experience differed.
52 Beach Street
Open seven days a week from 11 am to 1 am.