By Eric Twardzik
Chinese food from Gourmet Dumpling House
Gourmet Dumpling House

Boston’s Chinatown is as centrally located as it gets, yet the enclave has enough character—and authentic eateries—to make it feel a world away. From cult dumpling shops to late-night noodle stops, Chinatown provides rich discoveries for the culinarily inclined.

Gourmet Dumpling House

Soup dumplings from Gourmet Dumpling House

See that line of people queued up on Beach Street? Yep, that’s the crowd for Gourmet Dumpling House. If you’re partaking, expect a long wait, claustrophobic quarters, and precious little in the way of service. You’ll be rewarded in the form of oversized, underpriced dishes like crispy scallion pancakes, piping hot soup dumplings, and the Szechuan Spicy Fish Soup, a cult classic featuring a fiery red broth and melt-in-your-mouth slices of fish.

Hand-pulled noodles from Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe
Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe is the rare establishment where we recommend not ordering the namesake dish. The BBQ flatbread sandwiches are fine, but they pale in comparison to the hand-pulled noodles you’ll see staff stretching out—and slapping down—behind the counter. The classic way to enjoy these chewy, doughy noodles is in the #4, buried under mounds of garlic and an oily, fiery-red pepper sauce, or you can swing for #9 with cumin lamb. Just plan accordingly: Gene’s closes by 6:30 p.m. on weekdays (7:30 p.m. Saturdays), and isn’t open at all on Sundays.

Dumpling Cafe

Exterior of Dumpling Cafe

It’s not quite the night owl that Peach Farm is, but the 2 a.m. closing time of Dumpling Cafe is nothing to sneeze at in a city that sleeps. An impressively long menu brimming with inexpensive, spice-packed Taiwanese and Szechuan flavors has made it a favorite of budget-conscious diners and seasoned dumpling seekers—the question of whether it or Gourmet Dumpling House serves the best soup dumplings is a hotly debated matter (our advice: try both). Or, sidestep the issue altogether and order some Roasted Duck Buns and Pepper Soft Shell Crab.



Ramen from Shojo

Looking for a drink in Chinatown used to mean asking for “cold tea” in a hushed whisper. At Shojo, you can speak up as loudly as you want while ordering a killer Mai Tai or some obscure Japanese whiskey—just make sure you can be heard over the old school hip-hop soundtrack, which occasionally syncs with the schlocky kung fu movies on loop. The food is every bit as irreverent and funky as the atmosphere, consisting of Asian-inspired mash-up dishes like succulent Pig Bao or fried chicken with Hong Kong waffles. The spot has earned righteous fame for its Tori Miso Ramen, which is served only during lunchtime.

Peach Farm

Salt and pepper shrimp from Peach Farm

Open daily until 3 a.m., seafood-focused Peach Farm is something like Chinatown’s last call. And while a fair number of boozy diners sit down to its pink tablecloth-covered tables to feast on post-bar Roast Pork Lo Mein, its enormous menu holds treasures that are just as good sober. Don’t miss the Salt and Pepper Shrimp, a heaping platter of savory, deep-fried sea critters meant to be eaten head-and-all, preferably washed down with a frosty Tsingtao.

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