Santouka Hokkaido Ramen

Located in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge MA. $12 per Bowl. The broth is good and you can tell it’s not instant noodle like where the broth is watery. This has a slight thickness to it. It’s missing corn in the soup but otherwise it’s still very good. The pork belly was sliced extremely thin. Noodles were cooked perfectly. Flavor was superb.

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Jean and Lee’s Kitchen in Newton

I stumbled across this place on yelp. It has 3.5 stars, which is good enough for me. The pictures looked really good and what really sold me was the fried pork belly in wine sauce.

This place is on Oak street, right off Needham street in Newton. There is a parking lot in the rear, but ample meter spots on the next street over. You don’t even need quarters for the meters as they take nickels and dimes.

When we arrived, we found that seating is on the 2nd floor. We went during lunch time on a Saturday and the place was pretty quiet.

Service was okay. They were typical unenthused Asians who didn’t really care for their job, but they did the minimum with little facial reaction. The only super friendly person was the young man who greeted us downstairs. He is likely the owner or the son of the owners 🙂

Now on to the food…The pictures on Yelp makes it look much better than it is. That fried pork dish? It was kinda dry. That wine sauce? Seems like a mixture of hoisin and sriracha. It’s just fried (DRY!) roast pig. It cost like $16 damn it. Could went to Chinatown and picked up 1.5 lbs of fresh roast pig instead.

The Xiao Long Bao’s (pork soup dumplings) came out promising. It was steaming hot as they uncovered the lid at the table. We quickly found that its pretty dried up inside though. There is minimal soup inside and the meat was kinda flat/smallish. There is no comparison to XLB’s at Shang Ri La in Belmont.

The pig ear was good…liked that it wasn’t spicy so the kids could have some. The chicken Lo Mein was normal. The scallion pancake with beef was a hit with the kids. Other than that, nothing blew us away. We were more disappointed than anything as the pictures on Yelp gave us higher expectations.

Another thing to call out is that the tea was lukewarm. That was disappointing.

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Dumpling Kingdom in Brighton Ma

Well I came in here with some high hopes. It started out ok but once I was done and reflected on our meal, I actually left disappointed. Not that service was bad, but rather disappointed that I didn’t like the food more.

The XLBs were actually pretty good if you eat them right away. Their soup broth has a stronger ginger flavor and I liked it. Everything else was just blah. The braised pork looked nothing like what is pictured on their menu. Instead of chunky fatty pork (which is how its traditionally served), you get very thinly sliced meat on top of preserved veggies. Flavor wise it was good. However, the sauce was extremely gooey! That’s kinda gross. The seafood pan fried noodles were not that special either. The beef brisket noodle soup tasted great but the soup came out slightly warm. As soon as it came out the temperature was cool enough for our kids. That’s how lukewarm it was. These types of soups are supposed to be piping hot.

The jellyfish appetizer was extremely horrible. This is an Asian staple. One that I’ve eaten many times from various places. Never had I had it served like this. First they assured me it is not spicy, as I had gestured that it’s for my kid. It came out out with some red peppers, but not much. Not spicy for me but my kid with no experience with spicy foods could pick up on it. That wasn’t the problem though. These jellyfish came out in chunks. Hard chunks! Hard as in crispy! No way would I have ever expected it to come out like that. It was inedible. These should be soft and udon noodle like. These were crispy like lightly soaked dried scallops from an asian mart.

I have nothing great to say about any of their other foods that I’ve tried today. All were just so so.

One thing I want to call out is that all around their restaurant, they advertised a free LED desk lamp if you dine in and spend $50 (and pay with cash). I didn’t know about this until we sat down and my wife pointed it out. Anyways, as I ordered my meal, I mentioned the deal…just to confirm my understanding and to ensure I ordered enough to hit the minimum threshold. After I got my check (around $67ish) I gave them a $100 bill. The lady brought me back change (after confirming I wanted change). She mentioned nothing about the LED light. They flat out played dumb about it, hoping I’d forget. At least that’s how it played out in my mind. I asked for it. I went so far as asked for a white one as I noticed they had different colors. She quickly snapped back saying they only have black…”do you still want it?”. Hell yeah I want it, B! What kind of question was that? At which point of our conversation before and after the meal did I hint at not wanting this if the color choice wasn’t available?

Anyways, i tipped accordingly and left. I don’t see myself coming back there. In that area, there are MANY places to eat. No need to go back there if it didn’t blow me away. I really wanted to like this place as its just like my other fave places, like Dumpling House, Zoe’s, Shang Ri La. Oh well. At least I got a nice lamp. 🙂

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The Farm Grill and Rotisserie

What a let down! Given the other reviews for this place, maybe it was just my experience that sucked. This place is busy so it must be good or over hyped.

I ordered my food. I sat and waited. Then I waited some more. They were calling people’s numbers and were busy so I figured they were just backed up. I waited some more. I finally go check on the counter and there was what looked like our meal just sitting there. I asked and surely it was. I couldn’t have missed them calling my number as I sat right next to the counter. Also, couldn’t help but notice a young man who appeared to be the owner greeting some friends. Someone else came out to greet them too. Why weren’t they preparing food instead? It’s so busy. Whatever at this point.

The food was the big let down. The half chicken was so dry and shriveled up. It’s like chicken leftover for 2 days and then microwaved. I ordered kabobs and the outside is dry as hell and inside was nice and chewy…then I realized its raw inside. Pink and squishy. Ugh! Not more than 10 minutes after I left this joint did my stomach feel like the scenes from the movie Twister.

Again it must’ve been just me since most people love this place (based on Yelp reviews). But one bad experience like this was enough to swear away from ever returning here. On a good note, plenty of off street parking in the back.

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Genes Chinese Flatbread Cafe

This place is right off 95 in Woburn, MA. There is also a location in Downtown Boston. I actually had much higher expectations.

The place is pretty modern for a Chinese joint. They have computers to take orders and large TVs that display their limited menu. It is an Asian restaurant but it’s obviously clean. The staff are friendly and the service is quick. We went on a Saturday and the place is packed. I wouldn’t recommend it for a party larger than 6 as you’ll never get enough tables next to each other.

Now, those hand pulled noodles….they aren’t what I expected. The noodles are thick and wide, almost like chow foon. They are chewy! To me that’s not a good thing. I guess you gotta be a true Asian to appreciate hand pulled noodles.

We got their signature pulled noodles, several lamb skewers (not as cheap or good as the ones in Flushing, NY), some cold noodle dish, and pork buns. The bread for the buns are kinda like eating a bagel. The pork was far from special. Yeah, we aren’t going back to this place. Feeling disassociated with our lunch, we felt compelled to stop by Hot Breads next door for some amazing chicken Tikka buns. 😀

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