Friday, December 04, 2009

Peach Farm Restaurant: Boston

I had asked the Boston Chowhound board (perhaps in a somewhat unnecessarily confrontational manner) what their thoughts were on the current best Chinese restaurants in Boston.  Many responded with a number of places to try and one of the recommendations was for Peach Farm, which my parents had apparently tried out some time ago (perhaps 10 yrs ago?), but for some reason or another we never came around to again.

In any case, it was nice to try this out.  The slightly dated interior in the below-ground, low ceilinged location belied the very decently executed Cantonese dishes served there. But honestly, who cares about decor if there's good food to be had?  

Fish head, vegetable soup - We had ordered a fish from the tanks in front to be cooked and had gone through the whole waiter-comes-by-with-fish-in-bucket process. But when this soup appeared 5 minutes later and my Mom mentioned that this soup was made from head of that same fish we had just seen, I was slightly confused, since I'm used to stocks, taking hours to make. My mom explained that in Cantonese cooking, there are two types of soups: 煲湯, 'bao tang', the much longer simmered soups and 滾湯, 'gun tang,' basically quick boiling of water with the central ingredient in a wok (a point-out to the Saucing Around post, from which I grabbed the Chinese characters). Anyhow, this obviously is a gun-tang and despite it not taking that long to cook, it's surprisingly tasty.

They also give you the ingredients, used to make the soup, as well, since they haven't been cooked for that long and still hold some flavor.  If you can't tell, that's some leafy vegetables, tofu, fish chunks and mushrooms.

Lobster - I really wish that I could retroactively replace the numerous times my family has ordered this same lobster dish at Victoria's Seafood with this one. While it has does have a good coating of oil over everything, I could actually taste the natural buttery flavor of the lobster. I'm not quite clear on whether they just are getting better quality lobster, are serving it fresher or are cooking it more expertly, it simply tastes better.

Frog legs in Garlic Sauce - A dish recommended on Chowhound and confirmed by the waiter as a dish that Peach Farm was known for.  I can't say that I was that much of a fan of this.  The frog legs are cooked beautifully and are as tender as chicken wings or drumsticks would be.  There was lots of garlic, which my family and I love and which was cooked through and through, so that the pieces had that lovely soft, squishy texture and taste.  It was just the resulting sauce was just a thick/muddy flavor, different than that any I've tasted and while not bad, it just didn't strike me as that appealing.

Steamed Fish - Very nicely done. A fresh fish, steamed until it was cooked and not a second longer. You can't ask for a better version.  (Note that it's head is not served here, since it was used to make the previously mentioned soup)

Pea shoots (?) (豆苗, Dau miu) - Also nicely done. My mom pointed out that unlike the vegetables served at Oriental Garden in New York, they had snapped off only the most tender parts of the vegetable (all of the steams were gone), and hence everything could be eaten without a problem.

Tapioca Pudding Dessert (西米露, Sai mai lo) - Decent stuff - w/ papaya and taro chunks.

All in all, very well executed Cantonese dishes, which was absolutely refreshing.

Due to time and logistical constraints, we didn't get to try out some of the other Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants suggested, but I'm sure I'll be back in Boston soon enough and look forward to trying some of them out then.

Peach Farm Restaurant
4 Tyler Street
Boston, MA 02111-1904
(617) 482-1116

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