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Gene Chinese Flatbread in Chelmsford to close soon...

I have experienced no quality difference in their handed pulled noodles or the lamb stew. Everytime I've been to the Boston location either Gene or his wife was behind the counter. The lamb skewers are also good in Boston, but not cooked on a charcoal grill, of course. I just wish they were open for dinner on the weekdays and open at all on the weekends in Boston!

about 7 hours ago
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Lox & Bagels

Tom's is a great place. I didn't realize that they had hand-cut lox though!

Mar 13, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

SE Asian groceries (especially Thai)?

In the Boston area, I actually find the most reliable source for Thai and other Southeast Asian produce to be Russo's.

In Revere I often go to the Battambang Market, which is Cambodian, but has lots of Thai ingredients as well. I've also been to the Bangkok Market in Lowell, which has a lot of Thai produce (although I believe it's Cambodian owned as well). It's bigger than the Battambang market, but not particularly nice.

I haven't been to the Thuan Dat Supermarket in Quincy for a while, and I gather it may have changed names/owners and may be more Chinese and less Southeast Asian. There's also the Truong Thinh Market in Dorchester, which is Vietnamese, but may also have some of the ingredients you seek.

Mar 08, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Yuzu juice in the city

I love Yuzu Juice. Miso Market had the most wonderful bottled yuzu juice, as well as sometimes having fresh yuzu. Alas, miso market is no more. I have since gotten my yuzu juice on-line, from, but Ebisuya in Medford may have it as well. The two commonly available brands are Yakami Orchard and Goita Chitosuma. I prefer the Yakami Orchard. Unfortunately, I have not found the same brand that I used to get at Miso Market available easily, at a reasonable price anywhere else. The brand is called Yamato, and is available at some places on-line for more than $50/bottle, instead of about $18/bottle at Miso Market. I believe it is imported by a New Jersey company and I have been meaning to contact them, but I am also pretty satisfied with the Yakami Orchard brand, which I believe is the same one sometimes available at Williams Sonoma.

Mar 03, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Looking for great eggs to sous-vide

A soft boiled egg is great too, but a sous vide egg can reach areas of texture-space that are just not possible using a conventional process that involves a higher heat for a shorter amount of time. Both are good. Grilling meat and barbecuing meat are both good ways of cooking meat, but they reach different ends.

With steak, you really need a special sous vide machine to maintain temperature, but for something really small like eggs, which also don't need to cook that long (i.e. less than an hour), if you have a medium size (or larger) cooler, and a thermometer, you can fill it with a combination of hot and cold water to reach your desired temperature, place the eggs inside, and close the top and wait. The temperature of the water will change a little bit, but it'll usually work.

Feb 27, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Lox & Bagels

I've yet to have really good bagels & lox at a restaurant, but I often have it at home. Both are specialized skills, and hard to do without a lot of volume. To me, that pretty much means a deli, ideally one that makes its own bagels. We just don't seem to have the volume and density for such a place around here. But we do have good bagels to bring home:

Bagels: My favorite is Rosenfeld's in Newton. They are only open Wednesday-Sunday. A fresh Rosenfeld's bagel is bagel nirvana (if bagels were Buddhist), but only within minutes of its birth. Within hours it begins to get hard, and by the next day they are almost inedible. They do not freeze well, although I have never tried dipping them into a dewar of liquid nitrogen within minutes of baking. Katz in Chelsea also makes great bagels. The Walnut Market on Lincoln St in Newton Highlands carries frozen Montreal bagels, imported from Montreal. They are quite different, but freeze really well. I usually keep some in my freezer, and otherwise jump out to Rosenfeld's.

Cream Cheese: Rosenfeld's also makes excellent cream cheese. Philadelphia and Temptee from the supermarket are not bad representations of a hard and soft style, respectively. Sometimes I'll doctor one of them up with fresh chives.

Lox: I have not found anywhere in the Boston area that makes great lox. The packaged lox at Rosenfeld's is terrible. Trader Joe's lox reminds me of the stuff we had at the Harvard dining halls on Sunday mornings ten years ago. It's edible, but I don't enjoy it very much. When a bagel is served with cream cheese & chives, onions, tomato, cheese. capers, and lox some sins in one component can be forgiven. If I have to have packaged lox, I prefer packaged gravlax, where the salmon is more for texture and the flavor comes more from the dill and other added spices.

But lox should be freshly cut and with skill; consider the difference between freshly made sushi and packaged supermarket sushi. The only place around here that I ever found great lox was at Zathmary’s in Brookline, an otherwise unremarkable small grocery store that closed abruptly seven or eight years ago, reportedly screwing their vendors out of payment for their last orders. Barry's Deli in Waban would be my local suggestion now, but I find their salty, belly lox much better than their hand-cut nova. The Whole Foods in Brookline has pretty decent nova, but it is usually cut poorly. I would love to hear about a better local source for handcut smoked salmon.

Lox Further Afield: I think the best lox in the world is found at Russ & Daughters in New York City. When I visit New York I often go there and if I can stop by shortly before I leave, I bring a pound or two back to Boston. They will also ship. Their bagels are mediocre at best, however. More often, when I drive back from New York City, I stop at Rein's Deli in Vernon CT (right off I-84) and buy lox, whitefish salad and bialys there. Rein's is only 90 miles away from Boston. Barney Greengrass in New York City also has excellent lox. The only place I've ever found that combines truly world-class lox and bagels under one roof is Bagel Hut in Great Neck, NY.

Other Bagel Toppings: Rein's Deli has quite good lox, but really excellent whitefish salad, another famous bagel topping. Fortunately, you don't even need to go 90 miles to get excellent whitefish salad; the Walnut Market in Newton has world-class whitefish salad. Thinly sliced red onion, tomatoes and cheese can be very nice atop a bagel as well. For sliced cheese on a bagel by itself I love many of the great brebis cheeses at Formaggio Kitchen. Some globules of salmon caviar make a wonderful addition to a bagel as well.

Feb 23, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Has Sichuan Garden in Woburn gotten even better?

Not nitpicky at all, you are quite right!

Feb 22, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Patty Chen's Dumpling Room

I don't mean to add insult to injury here, but I had a really hilarious meal here the other night. The short answer is that it is most definitely not worth the wait, even if there were no wait, which there most certainly is not.

It took five minutes to get seated in a mostly empty restaurant, and then more than ten minutes to order.

Coconut bubble tea is served in a cute coconut shaped mug, but tasted like watery coconut water with squishy boba. It was a lot better than the water, which tasted off.

But not as off as the dumplings. The waitress got both of our dumpling orders wrong, so it took 35 minutes before the first correct dumpling, the "dumpling room" (shrimp, pork and chives) arrived. Two of the six dumplings were uncooked to the point of having raw pork and raw shrimp inside.

Thankful for the divine protection afforded to me by following the spirit of the laws of kashrut, I had ordered the "Papa Chen's veggie" (chives, egg and rice noodles), which came out 45 minutes after being ordered, and still undercooked and gummy, but at least not dangerous.

Other than the dirty plates, broken China, peeling wall paint, reused wooden chopsticks, I will say that the dumplings looked pretty, and the fried shallots (?) on top were a nice touch.

Their website says they close at 11:30 PM, but the waitress sent away two different parties who tried to come in just before 10 PM. As people left the waitress didn't clear off the dirty dishes from the table, just let them stay there until closing time. Patty Chen emerged from the kitchen briefly to turn up the volume on the music when her favorite song came on, which stayed loud through the rest of the meal.

The one saving grace to that meal was that Toscanini's is next door, and nothing gets rid of the taste of a hilariously bad meal and hilariously poor service than a pint of delicious cardamom ice cream.

Feb 15, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Has Sichuan Garden in Woburn gotten even better?

Red Peppers does a nice version of this dish as well.

Feb 15, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Deuxave vs Ten Tables Cambridge?

Hm . . . I agree very much about Ribelle and Sycamore, but I can't agree with you about TT versus Deuxave. I much, much prefer Ten Tables, which not only has a much more interesting space and a better, fresher, more inventive menu that's better executed, but also is devoid of the off-putting corporate feel of Deuxave.

Jan 28, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Fish Shack in Pompano Beach

Had a wonderful meal here the other night. We arrived around 7:30 PM on a Friday and waited about 30 minutes for a table. There's no room to wait in the restaurant, but there are some comfortable chairs outside if it's warm, and since it was a little chilly, we waited in the car, and the waitress popped outside when there was room for us.

In addition to what's on the menu, they seem to have 2-3 fresh fish specials each night. Like many Florida restaurants you can choose how the fish is prepared; grilled, blackened, etc. I had blackened dolphin, with an excellent side salad and cole slaw and my DC had a bowl of clam chowder and fried oysters. We sat at the counter, which was conducive to sharing with other people, and we traded an oyster for a taste of cracked conch with a neighbor.

Excellent sauces, friendly waitstaff, $2 beers, delicious key lime pie, low prices, and quite possibly the best, freshest piece of fish I've ever had in Florida.

The $44 Dover Sole at City Fish Market the night before was delicious, but this $14 Dolphin platter was easily better.

Very chowish, very divey, great find.

Jan 26, 2014
lipoff in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Biryani Park in Malden - closed, hopefully temporarily

I don't know anything more than what's on their website,, which says, "The Biryani Park restaurant in Malden has closed. We are looking for a new location and hope to reopen in the near future."

I know that they have been looking for another location for some time, and that a possible location in Downtown Crossing fell through (I don't think that's the right location for them anyway), but I do really hope that they find a better location, and soon! I miss their food already.

Jan 11, 2014
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Escarole and White Beans at Abbondanza in Everett

Italian/Italian-American is not my most favorite cuisine, but last night I really had a hankering for breaded veal, and so drove up to Abbondanza in Everett with a friend. I got my breaded veal, he got their tasty beef tripe dish, and we shared an escarole and white bean appetizer from their daily specials that was out-of-this-world.

If I'm being really picky I could ask for better olive oil with the bread; ask for most of the delicious crust and less of the tasteless white-bread interior, and ask that the ziti that comes with the veal be cooked with the sauce for a minute, rather than having that sauce just ladled on top.

But everything is so tasty, from the delicious appetizer, to the rustic, hearty beef tripe to the veal cutlet, and even the pasta sauce, that I'm not really that picky and instead am just happy.

Such a nice local place, I wish that we weren't only one of two tables in there. A wrong turn and a missed rotary led us a little astray last night and we ended up in Winthrop, and so actually tried to stop by Rino's Place first. They were so crowded it would have been hours of waiting. Abbondanza is at least as good; I wish it were at least half as crowded!

Dec 19, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Half Moons

Antoine's Pastry Shop in Newton!

Dec 16, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Yangrou Chuanr at Wow Barbecue

I was given a tiny hat as a gift from a Muslim man when I was in Ürümqi last month. And I have a charcoal grill sitting on my balcony right now . . . .

Here are some lamb skewers from Ürümqi. Much better than most in Beijing, where I find the lamb too fatty. The lamb that Gene uses is a bit different still, but I've still never had better.

Sep 18, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Wild Salmon - Sushi?

Cafe Sushi in Cambridge also has some wild salmon nigiri.

Sep 15, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Yangrou Chuanr at Wow Barbecue

Thanks for the tip! I look forward to trying them.

Gene's has the best lamb skewers I've ever had, including in China. I don't know whether he makes them at the new Boston location as I haven't been yet!

Similar to One of the Kind, Golden Garden in Belmont also has good cumin-spiced lamb skewers, and Wang's in Somerville makes terrific beef teriyaki skewers --- an example of a delicious Chinese-American dish. Wang's and Zoe's both also make a very good version of traditional cumin lamb, albeit not on a stick.

Also, I noticed at Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown an unusually large number of chuar --- chicken, chicken skin, ground chicken, beef, squad, duck tongue, shrip, and pork skewers. I didn't try any last time I was there, but will next time.

Sep 15, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

New Strip T's Thread for 2013:Excellence and Innovation Continue

I had to go to the Registry of Motor Vehicles recently and decided to offset the experience by grabbing lunch at Strip T's first.

I had the Pho Real a sandwich of chicken, Thai basil, avocado, bean sprouts and a tangy sauce on a crusty roll. What a terrific sandwich. Terrific grilled chicken, fresh vegetables, and a wonderful heat and depth of flavor. All served with a smile.

And I was in and out of the registry in only fifteen minutes! I should have stayed at Strip-Ts for dessert.

Sep 14, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Fresh Made Juices

Juice Bar in Chinatown is great. I love the passion fruit papaya juice, and nice people. Adding tapioca pearls (boba) to a cup of freshly squeezed juice is a bonus!

Sep 14, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Prepared dishes for Jewish holidays

I know I'm a little late to the party here, but +1 for Barry's Deli's prepared platters.

Sep 13, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

September 2013 Openings and Closings

This has been a plan for years --- at least four or five years if I recall correctly.

Sep 08, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Best Rice Cake Dishes?

There is a Shanghai Fried Rice Cake (Shang4 hai3 chao3 nian2 gao1) dish on Fuloon's menu. I'm sure I've had it before, but I don't recall it off the top of my head. I don't think it's really special.

Shanghai Gate's "Shanghai Rice Cake" is my favorite rice cake dish ever --- I order it without the pork. Since it's a famous Shanghainese dish, Shanghai Gate goes through a lot of volume, and I think they use fresh rice cakes, rather than pre-made frozen ones that most restaurants use.

Although people everywhere in China eat rice, usually only regions in the south, where rice is grown, make things out of rice. Rice cakes are particularly common near Shanghai. Rice cakes are eaten a lot around Chinese new year all over China --- sometimes topped with a sweet sauce as a dessert!

I loved the ddukbokki at the late Wu Chon House. Misono Wok and Grill in the Super 88 food court has quite good ddukbokki (Korean tublar rice cakes), both as an appetizer and in with various types of noodles.

I've made ddukbokki by buying a package from a Korean market such as Lotte Market in Cambridge, boiling water, turning off the heat, and letting the ddukbokki soak and float for a couple minutes. After straining the water away, I top it with premade ddukbokki sauce from a packet, and some fresh scallions and cook it together in a frying pan for a minute or two. It's not the absolute best ddukbokki I've ever had, but it's quite good and is a snap to make.

Sep 06, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area


Wow, thanks for this tip. I know where I'm going for dessert after my next trip up to Gene's. =)

Sep 04, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Grill 23, tomorrow, for a friends birthday, what one plate should I get?

Thanks for the suggestion and for the blog link! Grill 23 is my favorite steak house as well. I also don't go out of my way to go there, but when I have an event or a gift certificate I do enjoy it. Now I know what I to try next time!

Sep 04, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Best Vegetarian Dish at a non-Vegetarian Restaurant

I have a vegetarian friend with whom I often dine, and have trouble coming up with options other than vegetarian restaurants. As an avowed meat eater, I often forget whether non-vegetarian restaurants that I like have a good slate of vegetarian options! =)

Actually, I've enjoyed trying vegetarian restaurants that I honestly otherwise probably would not have sampled, and of course good Chinese restaurants always have an array of vegetarian dishes.

But I would also appreciate hearing about restaurants with a particularly good vegetarian dish or two --- especially new restaurants since I've been gone from Boston for several months.

Sep 03, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

French Macaroons in Greater Boston?

I haven't been there to eat in a while, but the two times that I did go, Menton made absolutely delightful miniature French macaroons as a final dessert course. Those are the best macarons I've had in Boston. The flavors change, but I recall lemon, green tea, and pink peppercorn; each a perfect morsel.

You can buy much larger macarons from Sportello next door, but they are not as good. Burdick's Luxembourgers are okay, but a little muted; I have similar thoughts about the very expensive macarons at Formaggio. Crema has okay macarons too. Danish Pastry House has terrible french macarons, but delightful coconut macaroons.

Sofra bakery makes just delicious macarons, in sometimes very unusual and delicious flavors, such as rose. Unfortunately, they are not available everyday, and only seem to appear during certain holidays. My advice is to keep an eye out for them whenever you happen to go to Sofra. In a milieu of (overly?) expensive take-home offerings, their french macarons stand out to me as definitely worth the price of admission.

Sep 03, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Chinese Banquet Recommendations

I have to respectfully disagree with gourmaniac here. Boston has many excellent Chinese restaurants --- some of the best in the country, in fact. Finding a restaurant that can accommodate a 50-person banquet does narrow the field a bit, but there are still several options.

Personally, I would avoid the big Chinatown palaces. I have been to many disappointing banquets at Hei La Moon, although sometimes a few dishes were excellent. I suspect if you are willing to pay enough they can put together a decent banquet. However, I wouldn't risk it, when better options exist. If you needed a 300-person banquet in a restaurant I would say that's your only option. (I have actually had Fuloon cater a 300-person banquet off-site and that worked out very well also).

Joyful Garden is large enough for a 50-person banquet, and has an excellent Cantonese menu (the Chinese-language menu).

Fuloon has a private room for ~20 people, but can probably arrange semi-space for 50 people behind the fish tank in the main dining room.

I second the recommendation for Szechuan Garden in Woburn. I'm sorry you had a bad experience there, but I would recommend returning again and trying it for dinner. Szechuan Garden in Brookline is very inconsistent, but my several experiences at Szechuan Garden in Woburn have always been very positive.

One quirk of Chinese restaurants in the United States is that the same restaurant can serve a $5.95 lunch special of Americanized-Chinese slop and also turn out very authentic delicious weekend brunch and high-end special-order banquet dishes. I don't disagree that it can be nerve wracking and difficult, but I wouldn't let bad experience with one end of the register dissuade you from hosting a banquet. Talk to the mangers, whether at Szechuan Garden, Fuloon, Joyful Garden or somewhere else, sit down for a tasting of the dishes and arrange your banquet! Congratulations on the wedding! =)

Finally, Changsho is a beautiful space, but does not have anything like authentic food. Golden Temple also has a beautiful space, but has food that's even worse!

Jul 08, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

what is the single best restaurant you've been to in Boston area?

If you really limited me to only one answer, I think my answer would be different depending on the moment you asked me. At this moment, however, I'd answer Biryani Park.

Jun 27, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Coming to Boston

Sounds like the garlic ice cream I had in Gilroy CA last summer!

Jun 25, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Coming to Boston

At Gene's there are small glass jars of la4 jiang4 (thick chili paste) on the counter that you can take your table. Different regions of China have different typical styles of la4 jiang4. Wang's in Somerville has an excellent one on their tables, which has crushed red peppers in a thick red pepper oil. However, the one at Gene's is quite different, and typical of Shaanxi province. It's thicker and much drier, with a different mix of peppers. It's not in-your-face spicy like that in many Sichuan restaurants, but if you put enough in, it'll definitely make things spicy. Note that this different than the wetter, redder and more one-note spicy sauce provided with the hand-pulled noodles in a small container. I recommend both of them.

Jun 25, 2013
lipoff in Greater Boston Area