Chinatown was one of the first areas affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as early as January, people stopped visiting the neighborhood due to unfounded and racist fears about the virus. The narrow streets in the area have also prevented the possibility of outdoor dining and as a result, the area is much quieter than usual. The local businesses there need your support, so if you’re thinking about dining out or grabbing takeout, consider ordering something from one of our favorite spots below.
Best Bar B Q Restaurant
Naming yourself the “best” always feels like overcompensation, but Best Bar B Que actually lives up to its name. This remains one of our go-to spots in Chinatown for Chinese barbecue, with some great siu yuk, roasted duck, and chicken, though we’ve had better char siu elsewhere. At Thanksgiving, they even sell stuffed barbecue turkeys, which, when compared to burning down a garage with a turkey deep-fryer, is definitely the best option.
There are literally hundreds of items on the overwhelming menu at Taiwan Cafe, so we’ll make it simple for you. Order the house special fried pork chop platter and salt and pepper shrimp on your first visit, then come back every week for a year to try everything else. After all, 2021 is just around the corner and you probably need a resolution anyway.
There are a number of bakeries in Chinatown, but Hing Shing Pastry might be our favorite. Everything’s made on site at this cash-only spot (as soon as you walk in, you’re staring at the bakers in the back of the shop), and we recommend both the pork and pineapple buns. They also happen to make some pretty good mooncakes - our recent order of a baker’s dozen necessitated a piggy bank break.
The coffee is perfectly fine at Jaho, but most of the time, we come here for the soft serve. Jaho’s version has a texture that’s surprisingly similar to harder ice creams, and the portion sizes are incredibly generous. Plus, the flavors we’ve tried - matcha and ube - are both stellar. When we’re not in the mood for soft serve, Jaho also happens to serve wine and cocktails in the evenings. So basically, we’re here all the time.
Penang Malaysian Cuisine
Penang is the only restaurant in Boston that specifically serves Malaysian food. That can be used as justification all on its own for a feast featuring roti canai, asam laksa, bak kut teh, and nasi lemak. Trust us, we tried it, and our managers and accountants approved the expense without even thinking twice. But even on our own dime, everything here is good enough to order on a weekly basis - especially since the roti canai is only $5.