Until my recent visit, Myers+Chang was probably the most famous and critically renowned Boston restaurant that I hadn’t tried. I have been let down before with restaurants like this, ones that live on their reputation and past success. Still, I was excited to try Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz’s take on Asian fusion. I showed up about a half hour early for my reservation, but was seated right away at a cozy table near the back of the restaurant. This, I believe was very lucky as many, if not most, of the seats in the restaurant are bar height and some of the tables appeared to be shared. For others this might be fun, but I only tolerate sharing a table if I know I am going to be awarded with a Bartley’s burger.
The service was slow. This isn’t something that normally bothers me. I’m rarely in a rush when it comes to food. When I’m without a drink it can test my patience, but even though this happened a couple of times during the meal, the staff was so friendly that it was hard to get upset. The food came out pretty quickly after being ordered and I was rarely without food in front of me, but only once was there more than one dish on the table. I only wish the drinks could have been as well timed as the food. Speaking of the drinks, the Mai Tai was fantastic and the Black Snake, a blend of rum, Cynar, lime, and cola, was unusual but good.
All the dishes were on the small side, which is good because the joy of eating at Myers+Chang is trying a bunch of different things. I started with the lemony shrimp dumplings, which were perfectly cooked and served with an amazing yogurt-kimchee sauce. The filling however was the most disappointing part of the meal. The lemon flavor was reminiscent of soap and completely overpowered the shrimp. Without the sauce, the dish was inedible and made me avoid ordering the panko crusted lemon chicken out of fear that flavor would return. Other dishes were considerably better including salmon and green apple tartar that was tossed in tremendous dressing that had a slightly nutty flavor and tossed with cooked spinach, an unexpected addition that won the dish.
Also very good were braised pork belly buns. The buns were soft and the sauce was delicious. The pork belly was tender and flavorful. Don’t avoid the sliced jalapenos, served on the side, but a welcome addition. Equally successful was the wok-charred octopus and grilled corn. Grilled till slightly charred on the cob and quartered, the corn was coated in sriracha butter. The octopus was also lightly charred giving the dish great flavor, but just missing the ideal texture. Grits for the shrimp and grits were made with okara, and while I liked the shrimp, chili oil, and chive flowers, I would have preferred traditional corn grits.
The best dish of the night was the fish tacos, not quite what I expected to find on the menu, but absolutely perfect. If examined alone the hake seemed over-breaded and over-cooked, but within the taco it didn’t matter. In fact I would be willing to give the chef the benefit of the doubt that it needed to be cooked this way to make the whole dish come together. Then again maybe the kimchee sesame salsa and the whipped cilantro were just so good that it didn’t matter. Either way, this was one of the best bites I have had in while and more than worth a trip back.
The meal finished up with a bowl of little cookies. I paid no attention when this was brought to the table because I was so excited to order the chocolate peanut butter cake. While the cake was good, the free cookies, which I barely noticed until I started eating them, were far better. Honestly, they might not have even been cookies, I really have no idea what they were I just hope I get them the next time I go.
Myers+Chang has a big reputation to live up to, and though there were a couple of slips, there was more than enough to get me back. After all, there were plenty of dishes I didn’t get a chance to try and if nothing else there’s always the fish tacos.
1145 Washington St