Monday, June 1, 2009

Myers & Chang: First Time Lunch

This past Memorial Day, we had very nice weather and I spent time in Cambridge and Boston, including Harvard Square and Newbury Street. My big decision of the day was where to eat lunch. I decided to drive to the South End, knowing there were plenty of options there. But my thoughts soon drifted to Myers & Chang.

I had not been there yet but had heard many positive reviews. Plus, I followed the restaurant on Twitter and the food they discussed sounded enticing. The restaurant is owned by Joanne Chang and Christopher Myers, wife and husband, both with extensive restaurant/food experience. Joanne also owns Flour Bakery, one of my favorite Boston bakeries.

They say about Myers & Chang: "We are inspired by Taiwanese soul food and Southeast Asian street food, all done with a great deal of care. It is a personal, sometimes loose interpretation, to be sure, but our criteria are simple: everything we make must be fresh, delicious, and addictive. We are passionate about sharing our love of this food with you."

After my initial visit, which went very well, I returned again yesterday afternoon for lunch, to try some more dishes. That second visit was as pleasing as the first time. There will certainly be a third visit, and a fourth, fifth, etc.

It is a medium-sized restaurant with a somewhat eclectic style. It seems a bit retro, almost like a 1950s diner, yet it also has a tasteful Asian decor. There are a number of mirrors on the walls bearing writing, from a haiku wall to lists of some of their cocktails. It is a casual and fun place, a fitting spot for the South End. You can sit at a table or along the bar where you can watch them cook your meal.

They have a full bar, including some creative cocktails and Sake. I found plenty of choices that interested me so it was difficult to decide what to drink. Their House Cocktails generally all cost $9 each, which is reasonable considering usual Boston cocktail prices. I tried the Shanghai Sake Sangria, which is made with Sake, wine, exotic fruits & juice. They had two flavors available and I chose the Passion Fruit. It was very good, not too sweet (actually fairly tart), and the fruit flavors were very prominent. I also tried the Lotus Blossom (St. Germain, sparkling chenin blanc, and soda water). This is essentially a St. Germain cocktail and was good, refreshing with the intriguing flavors of St. Germain.

If you don't want alcohol, I would recommend their Housemade Sodas ($5 each) in exotic flavors like lychee-vanilla, aloe-yuzu, cherry-ginger, and mint lime rickey. I had both the lychee-vanilla and cherry-ginger. They come in a large glass, with plenty of ice and a bendy straw. They are only mildly sweet, unlike most commercial sodas, making them very refeshing. The lychee-vanilla had a rich vanilla flavor with hints of the more exotic lychee. The cherry-ginger had a prominent ginger flavor with an underlying cherry taste. I really enjoyed these sodas and they will especially be good during the summer.

I should also note that they give you a carafe of ice water when they deliver your menus. With so many restaurants omitting water, unless you request it, I think this is a nice touch.

The lunch menu consists of Favorites (more like appetizers), Salads, Banh Mi Sandwiches and Wok Dishes. Prices range from $5-$15. The dishes derive from many different Asian cuisines, from Thai to Indonesian. There is a nice diversity of choices, which should appeal to many different tastes.

I have tasted several of the different Favorites. The Crispy Spring Rolls ($5) consist of two rolls filled with garlic chives, bamboo and shiitake mushrooms. A nice crunchy shell contained plenty of very fresh veggies. If you enjoy spring rolls, then you really will love these.

Mama Chang's Pork Dumplings ($11) are made to order rather than most places which simply cook pre-made, frozen dumplings. You get five dumplings, with one side that has been pan fried. They were delicious, filled with plenty of meat and veggies, and the dumplings had an excellent texture. Definitely some of the best dumplings I have had though I think they might be a tad pricey as each individual dumpling costs $2.20. Most other restaurants sell an order of dumplings for only $5-$7. I understand the Chang dumplings are home-made but I would be happier if they were a couple dollars cheaper.

The Pork Belly Buns ($9) are two steamed buns containing braised pork, lettuce, pickles and hoison sauce. They were accompanied by an Asian slaw and shrimp crackers. The sandwiches were delicious, with a very soft bun and flavorful pork with a touch of sweetness. The shrimp crackers look like thin, circular pieces of styrofoam but have a mild shrimp flavor with some spice. I liked them and they actually would be great for dipping in spicy sauce.

The bowl of Wok-Roasted Mussels ($15) comes with lemongrass and several pieces of grilled garlic toast. There were plenty of small, tender mussels in a very savory and tasty broth, which was good for dipping the bread. The bread was crispy and cooked just right. Another very good choice.

The Tea-Smoked Pork Spare Ribs ($14) were exceptionally tender, the meat easily falling off the small bones. There was plenty of flavorful meat rather than lots of fat and bone. The glaze was delicious, mostly sweet and smoky with a touch of spice. Another excellent selection though I do fell this dish might be a tad pricey for the quantity you get, though they are high quality ribs.

As for the Salads, I really enjoyed the Tiger's Tears Salad ($12). Also known as bang bang & olufsen beef, the salad has greens, various raw peppers, grilled skirt steak, thai basil, lime, and khao koor (roasted rice powder). It has a spicy sauce atop it which you might at first take as a mild vinaigrette until you feel the intense heat in your mouth. The steak was tender, the peppers fresh and crisp, and the khao koor added an interesting crunchiness to the dish. This was an impressive salad with fine textures and flavors, and I really liked the spicy heat.

From the Wok, the Nasi Goreng, Indonesian for "fried rice," ($14) is made with pork, shrimp, pineapple, and a farm egg. A delectable fried rice with lots of rich flavors, plenty of shrimp and a melange of intriguing textures. All of the flavors worked well in a harmonious mix. I highly recommend this dish.

Service was excellent on both visits. The servers were personable, accomodating and knowledgeable. The food is fresh, delicious, and well spiced. Plus, the cocktails and drinks really appeal to me. My only criticism is that I think some of their prices are a tad high for the quantity you receive on some of the dishes. I have no complaints about the quality of their food and do recommend you check out this restaurant.

I will be sure to return for dinner some night. There are plenty of items on their dinner menu which really appeal to me, such as the Sweet Potato Fritters and Local Corn & Coconut Soup.

Myers & Chang
1145 Washington St (South End)
Boston MA
Phone: 617-542-5200

Myers & Chang on Urbanspoon


Dish This! said...

the tiger's tears are soo good! yum =)

adele said...

Sounds good. I don't spend much time in the South End, but I think I might have to make a visit. :)

Richard Auffrey said...

There are plenty of good restaurants in the South End so you really need to spend more time there.