Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Wusong Road: First Impressions

I recently trekked into Harvard Square, the first time I'd been there since the pandemic began. As I walked around, I was disappointed to see so many closed and shuttered businesses, including places which used to be some of my favorites. Hopefully, that will turn around in the near future, with new and interesting businesses taking over those empty spaces.

One of my objectives on my journey to Harvard Square was to have lunch at a new restaurant, Wusong Road, which opened in December 2021. I'd read raves about this restaurant, and the menu looked interesting, so I wanted to check it out myself. 

Their website states: "Overall Wusong Road is a Tiki bar where we match old school American Chinese restaurant affordability, plush midcentury modern comfortability and top it off with a splash of rum and good old fashioned hospitality." The website also continues, "Wusong Road is not intended to be a ‘political’ or ‘social’ commentary on Tiki culture. Instead, Wusong Road is a celebration on the Asian American restaurant experience that is so engrained in our history and culture."

The main restaurant and bar is on the second floor, and as I walked up the stairs to reach it, I liked the decor of the restaurant, which I found interesting and fun. 

The monkeys hang above the tables in the small dining room, which occupies the initial part of the restaurant. That is where everyone was seated for lunch.

The largest part of the restaurant is the lengthy bar area with hightop tables. This is definitely a spot I'd love to hang out and drink some cocktails, while noshing on snacks.

Even the water glasses have a Tiki flair. 

You might suspect that cocktails would be expensive here, but that is definitely not the case. Most of their cocktails, including the Painkiller, Zombie, Scorpion Bowl, Singapore Sling, Aku Aku, Sub Tropical Itch, are only about $12. Their Scorpion Bowl is $20, but is intended for two people (with a $40 version for 4 people). 

I opted for the Mai Tai ($10.88), which is made with Jamaican, Guyana and Martinque rums, almond orgeat, curaçao, and lime, and served with a metal straw. Most other places that offer a Mai Tai don't make it with such a different selection of rums, instead using much more common and less expensive rums. I enjoyed the complex taste of the Mai Tai, which was refreshing, with a noticeable alcohol content (but not overly so). I suspect their other cocktails would be equally as delicious.

The small Lunch menu has about four appetizers and nine lunch plates, and prices are reasonable. The menu is intended to be fun and not trying to adhere to any specific Chinese cuisine. For example, one of the lunch plates is "New England Chop Suey" with an Asian flair. It's made with Ma La spice, grilled tomato 'bolognese', home-made shanxi maoerduo noodles, spring onions, crispy garlic chips and Thai basil. I'd like to try that on a future visit. 

For lunch, we began with an order of their Ma La Tater Tots with a sambal ketchup. The tots are made with chili oil, ma la spices, crispy garlic, & scallions. The tater tots were delicious, perfectly crispy and crunchy, with a mild spicy heat to them, enhanced by the sambal ketchup. A great bar snack, this would go with any cocktail you wanted. 

We also began with the Pork & Chive Dumplings ($10.88), made with a Chikang black vinegar % ginger sauce, chili crisp, spring onion, and crispy garlic. A firm dumpling, with some crispness from the frying, they were filled with plenty of tasty meat and spices, enhanced by the interesting sauce.

The Lunch Plates, which are generally all $14.88, come in this stack of metal containers, broken into three separate sections, which contain your entree, side and dessert. Some of the entrees include Lettuce Cups, Hand Pulled Noodles, and Yong Kan Beef. For your side, you get a choice of House Fried Rice (vegetarian or pork), Jasmine Rice, Papaya Salad, or Ma La Tots. And for dessert, you receive Daikon pickles, a fortune cookie, and a daily pastry. 

Note: Most of their prices end in "88" which is considered a very lucky number to the Chinese. 

I opted for the Lunch plate of Mandarin Chicken, which is crispy chicken, with togarashi seasoning, scallions, sesame seeds, Thai basil, and accompanied by a Mandarin orange & samba ldipping sauce. The chicken was moist and tender, with a thin and crunchy fried coating. Overall, excellent fried chicken, especially with the seasonings on it. The dipping sauce was tasty too, and not the thick, cloying orange sauce you find at some other restaurants. I'd definitely order this again.

The House Fried rice with pork was also very good.

The dessert plate had Daikon pickles, a fortune cookie, and heart-shaped cookie (which was also very fresh and good, and not overly sweet. 

The other entree we ordered was the Wusong Road Bao, where you get your choice of two bao, including the BBQ Char Sui Pulled Pork or Chicken Katsu, each with sriracha aioli, bread & butter pickles, napa cabbage, & General Tso's sauce. We got one of each, and as you can see, they make faces on the bao to represent the animal it represents, a pig and a chicken. Both were excellent, with moist and tender meat, and a pleasing blend of flavors. 

I was impressed with my first visit to Wusong Road and can't wait to return, to taste more of the menu. I'd definitely recommend it to my readers, for the quality of their food and drink, as well as the reasonableness of their prices. 

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