4 Tyler St (Cross Street: Beach Street)
Boston, MA 02111-1904View Map
The fashionably dressed concierge at the Taj leaned over the desk. We had just handed him a sheet referring to the Peach Farm Restaurant in Boston's Chinatown. His face twisted into a disgusted sneer. "Let me tell you - the last time I ate there, I was totally grossed out." Our looks of growing excitement confused him. He made a gesture with his hands. "You know, they have all those fish in the...tanks...and stuff."
I suppose this was intended to dissuade us. Hah. We ran over there as fast as our legs could carry us. If it was the kind of Chinese restaurant that could gross out luxury hotel concierge, we knew it had to be good.
A few minutes of poking around Boston's Chinatown and getting lost in construction, and we found the Peach Farm, located down a flight of stairs (and behind a small gallery of yellowing magazine reviews, features, and accolades.) The restaurant was nearly empty that Saturday afternoon, except for a couple of strange looking couples, the servers, and us.
The menu was huge, offering a variety of seafood dishes and a couple of safe options to satiate any misguided General Tso's Chicken fans. We made our decisions quickly: pan fried oysters with scallion and ginger (12.95) and the combination salt fried shrimp, pork chop, and squid. (17.95) My dad ordered a one-person hot and sour soup (1.75)for starters and we were off.
The hot and sour soup came in a large portion and was distinctly mediocre, featuring some rather incongruous green peas. The egg was a bit gloppy and overstated, although there were at least plenty of mushrooms and bamboo bits to work through. Positively, there was a decent hit of spice, although it could have gone much further. The disappointment of the soup disturbed us. Would the seafood dishes fare better?
Oh yes. The oysters were tremendous and expertly cooked, resting in a tangy black bean sauce. The ginger was chopped into huge, crunchy pieces that I found totally addictive. Eating them in tandem with the scallions was a completely delicious way to improve my digestion (ginger is good for you!.) We fought over every last oyster, though I managed to score a juicy straggler located beneath a large portion of sauce. Yum.
The salt fried shrimp, squid, and pork-chop combo was both incredibly delicious and 100 percent guaranteed to take a year or two off your life - in other words, the perfect dish. The huge shell-on prawns were expertly fried in the delicious salt batter Chinese restaurants do so well. I was in heaven as I chowed down on the crunchy and juicy heads, a nice counterpoint to the firm and juicy meat. I only had a few bites of the pork-chop in a desperate attempt to survive to at least middle age, but what I had was very good and tender. Finally, the squid tentacles were done extremely well, fried for just the right amount of time to preserve that salty oceanic snap. Delicious. The portion was tremendous and I was somewhat astonished we managed to eat it all - but how couldn't we?
A delicious meal in a perfectly nice location, Peach Farm is unlikely to "gross out" anyone who enjoys both expertly prepared seafood and authentic Chinese cuisine. My only complaint is that prices are unusually high for down n' dirty Chinese food, although judging by our experience, they're perfectly able to charge a little higher then the norm. I can't wait to return the next time I'm in Boston. The whole crab the table over from us ordered looked too delicious for words. Time to make plans for my next trip.
The concierge, by the way, had grossly overstated the hygiene of the place. I've eaten at locations in San Francisco's Chinatown where getting yelled at in angry Mandarin and brushing large chunks of someone else's food off your place setting is positively salubrious. In comparison, Peach Farm is the friggin' French Laundry.