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Taiwan Cafe Dumplings
Yes, there will be dumplings

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Chinatown Food Crawl: Dumplings, Eggplant, and Some Awfully Good Offal

Plus, drink a ton of Tsingtao

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Welcome back to Food Crawls, a series in which Eater Boston staffers guide you (virtually) on various food (and booze) crawls in the Boston area.

When we go out, we often find ourselves wanting to try more than one restaurant or bar at a time — a drink and a snack here, another drink and perhaps a dessert there — and want to share our favorite multi-stop combinations with you. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable, and the amount of food and drink is meant to correspond roughly to a couple of average appetites (so bring a friend), although your mileage may vary. Email us if there’s a particular theme, specific dish or drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.

Here’s a statement that shouldn’t be controversial: Chinatown is Boston’s best food neighborhood. There are noodles and dumplings and nasty bits and Tsingtaos, and there is plenty of pineapple bread, which is to say: Chinatown is the city’s best food neighborhood because it’s full of the very tastiest of treats.

Go there this weekend, bring some friends, and order everything below.

Stats for this food crawl:

  • Total stops: 4
  • Dumplings eaten: At least half a dozen
  • Tsingtaos swilled: Is it Saturday? If it’s Saturday, then at least five.
  • Organs chomped: How adventurous are you?

Taiwan-Style Eggplant at Dumpling Cafe

695 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111

This eggplant is the stuff
Yelp/Edward W.

Sweet and spicy and garlicky, this Taiwan-style eggplant should be eaten on any visit to Chinatown. The coming together of chilis, garlic, sugar, soy sauce, and fresh basil makes for a balanced yet hyperactively tasty dish. (Dumpling Cafe also has the best pork soup dumplings in the city, but we’ve got three more restaurants to visit on this crawl.) Drink two or three Tsingtaos while eating this: The crisp lagers will help mitigate the undercurrent of heat brought on by the chilis.

Taiwan-Style Pan-Fried Dumplings at Taiwan Cafe

34 Oxford St., Boston, MA 02111

Taiwan Cafe dumplings
Crispy exterior, pork- and vegetable-filled interior

Most Boston-based dumpling eaters have their favorite dumpling spot; Taiwan Cafe is a lot of people’s favorite. The ma po tofu is excellent (and should be ordered under any other circumstances), but go with the Taiwan-style pan-fried dumplings on this crawl. The wrapper is equal parts pillowy and crispy, and they’re filled with a savory mix of spices, ground pork, and vegetables.

Sautéed Pig’s Blood With Leeks at Gourmet Dumpling House

52 Beach St., Boston, MA 02111

The Sichuan fish soup at Gourmet Dumpling House
Yelp/Wai L.

Sure, Gourmet Dumpling House does some damn good dumplings, but it’s all about the offal (and the Sichuan fish soup) at this Chinatown staple. Order the sautéed pig’s blood with leeks, and impress the hell out of your friends by saying, “I am an adult, and I am up for new experiences!” It’s very good; I think you’ll like it; you won’t like it if you’re a vegan.

Lamb Flatbread Sandwich at Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe

86 Bedford St., Boston, MA 02111

This is sandwich heaven
Official Website

Okay, so Gene’s isn’t exactly in Chinatown — but it’s only, like, a one-minute walk from Essex Street, which forms Chinatown’s northernmost border. No tour of the area’s food scene would be complete without a stop at Gene’s, and no stop at Gene’s is complete without a flatbread sandwich packed with cumin lamb.

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

86 Bedford Street, , MA 02111 (617) 482-1888 Visit Website

Dumpling Cafe

695 Washington Street, , MA 02111 (617) 338-8859 Visit Website

Taiwan Cafe

34 Oxford Street, , MA 02111 (617) 426-8181 Visit Website

Gourmet Dumpling House

52 Beach Street, , MA 02111 (617) 338-6223 Visit Website