Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Butterfly Restaurant : Hadley, MA

Update Dec 27 - My Mom, Dad and I visited Butterfly over the holidays and this time, I steered clear of the Sichuan stuff that I wasn't such a big of.

Chicken soup - chicken, goji berries, very thin ginseng slices - ok, slightly watery flavor - chicken a bit overcooked.  While not overly prevalent, if you don't like the flavor of ginseng, you probably don't want this.  I guess I've grown up with it, so don't mind it so much.

Ngow lam mi fen - Surprisingly watered down broth with a star anise scent.  The beef tendons were cooked decently and not rubbery at all.  The mint, chinese vegetables and rice vermicelli did not provide much of the flavor, which resulted in a fairly light noodle soup.

Eel unagi sushi - Pretty decent, of particular note was the fairly fresh eel.

Yangzhou fried rice - They ran out of salted fish for a different fried rice I wanted to try, so I went with the old standby.  It wasn't bad.  The whole time I was trying to figure out whether the peas and carrots had been frozen or not - I never really figured it out.

Fried Dumplings - pork w/ Chinese chives.  Shrug, nothing that special about these.

I think this meal confirms my earlier suspicions that if you keep to certain dishes, you can have a decent meal here.


My family has come to Butterfly a few times before, but I've never really eaten here in critical mindset before.  And I suppose, even after this meal, I think the verdict is still out, mainly because of what I suggested us to order and a missing dish.

Looking at the menus (they have Chinese and special menus), I was a little bit confused as to what region of China they might specialize in, since besides the Americanized dishes, they seemed to have Cantonese, Sichuan and Taiwanese.  My Dad ended up ordering a few Cantonese dishes and I suggested a couple of Sichuan ones. The Cantonese ones were much much better.

Dr. Chen’s Herbal Energy Soup (Interesting English name. I forget the Chinese name) - [From the menu] This soup is stewed with chicken, Chinese wolfberry, Chinese yam and American ginseng. Chinese people believe that this soup is the best medicine for health and longevity. This soup will help to increase energy, strength and endurance, while improving the blood. Not bad stuff, tasting like you might get at home. A heads up, however, if you've never tasted ginseng, that it lends a slight bitterness to the soup.

Wontons in hot oils (aka Crystal Wontons,  紅油餛飩) - Absolutely atrocious. The wontons were bunched up at top, leading to a texture very much like when pasta sticks together: mushiness on the outside and nastiness on the inside. They were overcooked on top of that, so the remaining skin was flabby. There was very little meat inside, so all you tasted was the terrible wonton skin and the hot oil, which just tasted like a oil that was spicy. Hugely disappointing.

Double Cooked Pork (回狗肉) - Slices of pork, flakes of red chile peppers, leeks, all pan fried. Hmm, my first thought was that this was Cantonese chef interpreting a szechuan dish. The slight heat had none of the complexity I had come to expect and was simple the red chile peppers. The pork slices seemed overcooked as well. Not a disaster like the wontons, but only so-so.

Beef(?) Tendons & Bean Curd Stone pot -  Not bad, but fairly straightforward flavors and very heavy. I  wouldn't be able to handle this multiple times a week, unless I was doing hard-labor in the middle of a winter. I kept on thinking this thing could have used some sort of bread like we had in Nutrition House in Milpitas, CA.

And we also ordered a steamed fish, but the waiter inexplicably thought we were just asking about it, so never put it in.  I suppose that was good, because the beef tendon stone pot quickly filled our stomachs.

Afterwards, we noticed an article posted by the door, posted online here, which mentioned that the chef was trained by two Sichuan and one Hong Kong teacher and later worked in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which helped explain the somewhat broad-ranging menu selections.

Based solely on this one meal, I wouldn't be surprised that there might be select dishes, which were decent. But with the number of mis-steps we had, I think it would take a few intrepid diners multiple visits to really figure which ones those were.

Butterfly Restaurant
48 Russell Street Hadley, MA 01035-9556 (Map)
(413) 585-8989


  1. As the writer of the article you referenced, I read your comments with interest. I liked the place a lot, but in the last 6 months or so, it seems much spottier. When Richard Lau, the owner, is on-site, the food is much better. They have done something to stock of the Hot and Sour Soup that I really do not like. However, the Kung Pao Chicken is still the best I've had, and I continute to like the Gourmet menu selections. You might look at Great Wall in Florence, if you are in the area looking for interesting Chinese food (I did a post on their dim sum-http://blog.russelnod.com/2009/09/22/3-brunches-in-the-pioneer-valley/).

  2. Don, thanks for your comment and your tip about dimsum! I'm not sure if I'll have time to try it (my parents are the ones who live in the Pioneer Valley), but I'll be sure to let my parents know since their impression was that Boston was the only option for dimsum.