RESTAURANT REVIEW Hipster Dragons and Funky Haikus
Myers+Chang Provides a Fun (and Cheap) Date Night
1145 Washington Street, Boston, MA
(617) 542 5200
A blizzard may keep me from going to class, but I refuse to let the elements hinder my food critiquing endeavors. So, I braved the cold on Monday night with a friend to try Myers+Chang, an Asian fusion “funky indie diner” in the South End. Run by owner and chef Joanne Chang and executive chef Matthew Barros, the place gives off an upscale yet casual, retro-modern feel, with mod off-white cushiony seats and pink, borderline-kitschy bar stools. Bright pink dragon designs adorn the glass exterior, and inside are red and white lights amidst white bauble lanterns. We were pleasantly charmed before the food even arrived by the playing music, which included Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” and Death Cab for Cutie’s “A Lack of Color.”
Sunday through Tuesday evenings, Myers+Chang offers Cheap Date Night, a way to try a generous sampling of their Asian tapas-like dishes. Among the selection of dates are menus with names like “The Hot Date,” “The Healthy Date,” “The Vegetarian Date,” and “The Pig Out Date.” At $40 per couple, the deal seemed like a good idea. We were feeling adventurous, so we settled on “The Blind Date,” the chef’s choice tasting menu. We requested that their fried chicken (I had heard good things) be incorporated in our meal, and we were gladly accommodated by our waitress.
Our first two dishes were rather uneventful. Green papaya salad garnished with cilantro, chopped peanuts, and red chilis lit a small fire in my mouth, but other than the spiciness, I wasn’t too impressed. This was quickly followed by a plate of mostly unremarkable crispy spring rolls filled with leeks and accompanied by sweet dipping sauce. When the waitress brought out bowls of red kuri squash soup for us next, I started to wonder if perhaps we had ordered the vegetarian date by accident, but, after a couple spoonfuls, I decided I could be vegetarian — at least for the duration of this soup. Drizzled with mild red chili oil, the creamy soup was sweet with savory tones of curry, and the rich flavor was extremely satisfying (not to mention filling).
Next was the highly anticipated Myers+Chang fried chicken, which arrived on a plate decorated with coconut cilantro purée, sweet and hot dipping sauce, and a lime garnish. The chicken met my expectations — delicately fried to a perfect crisp on the outside (there’s hardly any batter coating the meat) and juicy on the inside. The coconut cilantro puree was refreshing but I found the dipping sauce to be a better complement to the chicken. Thankfully, our waitress pre-emptively brought us a stack of moist towelettes, warning us, “You get involved with the chicken.”
Our final dish, along with a bowl of brown rice, came out sometime during my involvement with the fried chicken — a bowl of homestyle stirfry with soft tofu, black peppered pork, kimchi, and bok choy. The mixture of tofu, pork, and vegetables was definitely not the most beautifully presented item of the night, but the point of homestyle cooking is never the aesthetics but more so the rate at which you can get it into your stomach. And though it was nothing groundbreaking, the pleasantly smoky, peppery flavor of the dish was both appetizing and comforting. Of all the items we tried, this may have been the only one that did feel like a traditional home-cooked dish.
For $5 extra as part of the Cheap Date menu, we could add a dessert. Seeing as how we weren’t aiming to be health-conscious in the first place (we had emphatically rejected the healthy date option), we caved in and ordered a frozen vanilla bean parfait with orange granita. The pairing of the buttery richness of the ice cream with the granita, a refreshingly tart treat, was perfect, with the exception that I was nursing a food baby by this point.
Verdict: Go for the funky ambience — not solely for the food — and you won’t be disappointed. Take advantage of the Cheap Date Night deal — for the amount of food we got, it’s definitely the best way to go without digging an unjustified hole in your wallet.
Tips before you go: The restaurant is right next to the East Berkeley Street stop on the Silver Line. If you’re afraid of silences, sit near the haiku corner by the bar or any of the marker-graffitied mirrors for a surefire way to start a conversation. (I make no guarantees of the quality of the conversation though; the pithy gems include phrases such as “Dragons make nice pets … in bed.”)
Good for: vegetarians, omnivores, brown rice lovers, hipsters
Bad for: people who don’t like to share, germaphobes (unless you horde your dishes), Asian-food elitists, people who don’t want to be considered a cheap date.