It seems like nearly every neighborhood in the Boston area has a Chinese takeout spot or two. You know the types of places--ones that often stay open late into the night, catering to college students and partygoers, and serving greasy Chinese-American grub cheap. But some of these restaurants actually have really good food, including an unassuming spot in Somerville called Wang's Fast Food that not only offers traditional Chinese dishes that go well beyond the requisite chicken fingers and spare ribs for the night owls, but also features some of the best dumplings in the entire Boston area.
Wang's doesn't have much of a presence from the outside, as it is just one of several small businesses on a commercial strip of Broadway at the edge of Magoun Square. The place is small, with a small dining area to the left and another small area to the right. The middle of the restaurant is basically used as a waiting/pickup area for takeout orders, and the kitchen sits behind this area. Even though Wang's does tend to be popular among folks looking to take food home, the two warmly lit dining areas do have just enough character to differentiate the place from other takeout Chinese restaurants that often have harsh fluorescent lights, tacky (or zero) decor, and hard, uncomfortable chairs.
As mentioned earlier, much of the menu at Wang's consists of Chinese-American "comfort food," including crab rangoon, beef teriyaki, egg rolls, chicken lo mein, pork fried rice, sweet and sour shrimp, and moo shi pork. And honestly, while these dishes generally aren't bad, there isn't a whole lot that can be done to make them stand out (although their hot and sour soup, a dish familiar to nearly everyone, is better than most). But Wang's also has less familiar--and more interesting--entrees within the house specialties section of the menu such as sea cucumber and pork, stir fry bitter melon, crispy Chinese flounder, and chestnut with fatty pork.
Moving beyond the traditional house specialties, Wang's menu has a Northern Chinese section that features such items as sweet red bean buns (a wonderful dish that almost has a fig-like taste to the inner filling); sweet and sour shredded turnip; pork chops with soup noodles; and jelly fish with cucumbers in garlic sauce. And then there are the items that really make the restaurant really stand out--namely the tremendous handmade dumplings. Wang's has nine different types of dumplings, including one with a hearty and slightly sweet mix of pork and fennel; another with a mild yet tasty mix of chicken and cabbage; still another with a rich, complex-tasting mix of vegetables; a shrimp and pork option for those who want a bit of seafood mixed in; and an absolutely heavenly spinach dumpling that has just a hint of bitterness along with its earthy flavors. The dumplings can be ordered boiled or pan-friend, and they can also be purchased frozen in bulk orders of 50 for those who would like to cook them at home. By the way, don't overlook the marvelous Peking ravioli at Wang's, as these elongated steamed dumplings have nothing in common with the greasy appetizer by the same name that is so often found at Chinese-American restaurants.
Wang's Fast Food may look like your average, ordinary takeout joint, but it is so much more than that. Sure, you can get your fried wontons here, and yes, you can pick from a pu pu platter, but between the traditional house specialties, the interesting Northern Chinese dishes, and the simply sublime dumplings, Wang's is a special place that in some ways rivals nearly any other Chinese restaurant in or near the city of Boston, and it also happens to impress some pretty big names out there, including Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger in Wellesley and Blue Dragon in Boston's Fort Point), who raves about their spinach dumplings according to the restaurant's menu, so that alone is reason enough to check this spot out.
Copyright © 2009-2017, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (www.hiddenboston.com).