I'm very behind in blog posts (still need to write about Out of the Blue in Davis Square, dinner at Ruth's Chris, AND a veggie burger recipe!) but I had to skip ahead to write about the phenomenal experience I had last night at Myers + Chang.
I've been wanting to try this restaurant for so long, but the timing has never been right. Finally, last night the planets aligned though, as Z and I finally had the chance to head over to this much-talked-about South End restaurant.
Usually I recap the evening in chronological order, talking about the decor and the scene, etc, but for this restaurant I can't even wait to start writing about the food, so I'm skipping right to that. The food is designed to be shared, which is great, considering I wanted everything on the menu and would've ended up reaching across the table to steal some of Z's food anyway. We started with the edamame and celery slaw ($4) which I insisted on because I had heard good things. I could tell Z was a bit hesitant (celery is not the most exciting vegetable out there), but as soon as we took our first bites we were sold. It was SO refreshing-- the sesame oil and lemon dressing was like nothing I've ever tasted. So crisp and fresh.
Next up was the "tiger's tears" ($10)-- grilled skirt steak with thai basil, lime, and khao koor. The waitress had recommended this dish "if you like spicy food", which of course I'm obsessed with these days, so we had to try it. It came in a big pile of beautiful red and yellow gleaming bell peppers, thinly sliced skirt steak, and big leaves of mint and cilantro. Skirt steak often is too chewy if cooked improperly, and you're left awkwardly chewing for ten minutes or attempting to bite it in half with your teeth. However, this skirt steak melted in your mouth, and its softness complemented the hard and super-crunchy khao koor. (I just did a google search of khao koor, and apparently it's roasted rice. All I know is it kind of has the texture of finely ground bacon bits-- not the flavor though, of course). At first this dish was spicy, but then when I hit a hot pepper it was SUPER spicy! Thank god the waitress brought over some extra water, because I could feel the heat spread down my arms, and my lips were on FIRE. Z said I was even turning kind of red. But it was so good, I just had to delve right back in, ignore my body's reaction, and enjoy the firey flavors.
Following this up would be a challenge, I thought. Nothing could match this. However, our next dish was also ridiculously delicious, except it had such a different flavor profile it did not compete with the tiger's tears, but rather complemented it. After the spicy tigers tears, the soft and pillowy braised pork belly buns ($8) soothed my mouth and delighted my senses with sweet brandied hoisin sauce and pickled watermelon relish. I had never had pork belly before, but it was so soft and squishy.
Finally, our last dish arrived-- mama chang's pork and chive dumplings($11). These were the most traditional Chinese dish that we ate all night, but you could tell they were made with love. Usually dumplings can be a turn-off with their thick and doughy casing, but these were delicate, supple, and piping hot.
Z was still hungry after all this (they are fairly small portions) so he ordered the wok-charred udon noodles ($11) with oyster sauce, baby bok choy, and chicken. Of course I pilfered some of this. However, this dish was my least favorite. As Z very astutely pointed out, this had that usual Chinese food greasiness that was definitely not in the other dishes. It also seemed lacking in seasoning. HOWEVER, I'm very glad we ordered this as Joanne Chang herself brought the noodles to our table! I was so star-struck, I could barely muster a thank you, I just goofily smiled. I'm a foodie dork.
At the end of the meal, the waitress brought over a complimentary lemon and candied ginger custard that was light and fluffy and the perfect end to a nearly perfect meal.
A few words about ambiance: The restaurant is really eclectic in its decor-- a hot pink stencil lines the windows; mirrored-walls have cheeky sayings scrawled across them like, "Man who has one chopstick goes hungry. Woman who has one chopstick use fingers"; and placemats are Asian newspapers (actual newspaper). As I've mentioned, I love restaurants where the longer you look around, the more tiny details you notice-- like the iPod mounted in the wall that pumps the rock music into the restaurant. You can tell a restaurant is truly a labor of love with the details.
As you can see from my blabbing on and on about this restaurant, I had a fantastic time. ONE word of caution though: there is definitely a lot of sodium in the food, as when I got home I had the largest salt bloat I'd ever seen. It honestly looked like I was with child.
BUT in the morning that was gone, and in its place are the memories of pork belly, tiger's tears, and edamame dancing in my head.