Friday, March 29, 2013

Quincy Dynasty

Tonight we had dinner at Quincy Dynasty, located at 47-49 Billings Road in North Quincy. This place came recommended by some non-Chinese friends of ours. They seem to offer more Szechuan-style food (as opposed to many of the other places we've tried, which specialized in Hong Kong-style food). They offer both eat-in and take-out service and we ate in.

To start, this place seems to be geared towards the American crowd. Our reasons for this assumption were first, that there weren't any chopsticks available, and also, they didn't automatically serve tea, there were many gringo dishes on the menu (like "Chicago-style chow mein") and that it came recommended by our American friends. :)

We ordered vegetable spring rolls as an appetizer. Then I ordered "Four Treasures Vegetables" with white rice, and we ordered chicken lo mein for Annie. For Ian, we ordered off the kids' menu (seriously! The first Chinese restaurant we've been to with a kids' menu!). He got Peking ravioli and chicken fingers. Jim remembers ordering Spicy Mongolian Beef, but I don't see it listed on their menu now, so I'll just say that it was a spicy beef dish. We also ordered tea, once we saw that they weren't going to bring any out.

The food came out very hot, of course, so Jim and Ian had to work on cooling it down:

(In the above photo, you can see three out of four of the dishes we ordered ... just Annie's is missing).

Jim was very impressed with the food; I wasn't as excited. Both of our dishes came with a heavy sauce, which may just be a trademark of Szechuan food. While my food tasted OK, it wasn't anything special. However, Jim thought his was great. He also ate Ian's Peking Ravioli, which is one of Jim's favorite Szechuan appetizers.

Other good points about this restaurant are, obviously, the kids' menu, and also the service was quite good. Our waitress did not speak a lot of English but she was very attentive. Also, the kids did venture to try the food. They mostly ate rice, but they both tried their dishes, which is very positive! They also loved the tea.

On the down side, parking could potentially be a problem, particularly if you arrive after 6.  We got there at about 5:30 and actually found 2 spots right out front, but by the time we left, there were a lot of people looking for parking. Also, I'm not sure this place was as clean as I would've liked. There was food under our table from a prior patron. Not so nice when Ian threw his straw on the floor. We knew he'd freak out if we didn't give it back to him, but didn't really want him putting it back in his mouth. (Jim wiped it off and returned it to him).

All in all, this place was a mixed bag. Not sure if we'll go back.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pho Hoa

Today we tried Pho Hoa, a Vietnamese restaurant at 409 Hancock Street in North Quincy that calls itself the "Health Conscious Choice."  It's a new place in an old bank building on the corner of Hancock and Billings, and according to its website, it's part of a large international chain with other locations throughout North America and Asia. I've driven by it a few times and was intrigued.  I hesitated checking it out because I was worried about parking. Today, we were originally planning on trying out Quincy Dynasty, which is just down the street, but when we found parking right by Pho Hoa, we decided to try it out. We'll try Quincy Dynasty some other time.

All right, so before I go on, I'll acknowledge that this place isn't actually a Chinese restaurant. But for the greater goal of finding more interesting restaurants in Quincy, this place qualifies.

Although it's apparently a chain, it had the feel of a locally-owned restaurant. We sat in a booth and Ian was pretty impressed because I think it's the first time we've eaten in a restaurant where he wasn't sitting in a high chair. The restaurant was very clean and not crowded at about 5:45 when we got there.

We ordered vegetarian spring rolls as an appetizer, and then Jim ordered beef pho (the famous Vietnamese soup), I ordered Goi Dau (cabbage salad with tofu), and we got chicken stir fry with egg noodles for the kids. There were many varieties of beef pho - they had a whole page on the menu dedicated to pho. But they also had a vegetarian section of the menu, which I really appreciate.

Customer service was generally pretty good, though for some reason, just as in other Vietnamese and Thai restaurants that we've been to, they don't bring all the food out together. The spring rolls came out first (as expected). Then my dish came out, followed by Jim's. About 5 minutes later, the kids' dish came out. But the wait staff was very nice and brought us napkins when Ian spilled an entire glass of water all over the table, floor and down his shirt and pants. No one seemed to be put out when Ian screamed (such as when we took the glass of water away, took away a spoon he was about to throw across the room, etc).

Both of us felt that the food was OK - not as good as Pho Pasteur, a Vietnamese restaurant we frequent in Boston, but still quite good. Everything was freshly made and plated well.

What was cool is that both kids tried (and liked) the food! Annie ate all of the chicken, as well as some noodles and some of the vegetables in her dish. She even experimented with chopsticks. Ian wouldn't touch the chicken dish, but liked Jim's pho!

He insisted on feeding it to himself, which meant that he got lots of pho on his clothes, seat and floor. But some ended up in his mouth! Jim ended up putting the bowl right under his chin to try to catch the drippage. Ian also had a couple of bites of the spring roll and some noodles. Not bad!

It was quite reasonably priced - the bill came to $30 for three dinners with an appetizer.

And in the end, parking wasn't a problem. They advertise on their door that there is parking in the back, though I'm not sure if they just mean further down on Billings (where we parked) or some secret parking lot. However, if you drive down Billings towards the railroad tracks, there are a good number of parking spaces on the street. We'll keep this in mind when we try out Quincy Dynasty sometime.

All in all, this is definitely a place I'd go back to, though I think that if I were to choose between this place and Pho Pasteur, Pho Pasteur is going to win every time. The advantage to this place is that we don't have to venture into Boston to enjoy good Vietnamese food! As a side note, there seemed to be a good number of interesting restaurants on Billings Road. There was a Japanese restaurant across the street, and next door was a Chinese seafood restaurant. So we'll be back.