March 27, 2005

chilli garden

Based on the contents of a long article in the Boston Globe food section, I have been wanting to check out Chilli Garden in Medford for a while now. And this weekend I got my chance, as I was planning to get together with S + D, old friends who live in Medford, for brunch. And hoo boy, it delivered.

Do not be dismayed by the first page of the menu, which is alarmingly standard Chinese-in-America offerings; turn the page and relax into 4 pages' worth of Sichuan dishes, many of them with an adorable little sputtering-cherry-bomb icon next to them indicating spicy heat. We had some pickled wild vegetable, dan dan noodles (SO good), and dumplings in spicy vinegar sauce. These dumplings were the best thing on a table full of great things. They were so fucking good I ate the sauce with a spoon, and my tablemates were gracious enough to let me have most of it. I love my friends.

We also had some shrimps in spicy sauce with broccoli & chunks of dried chile pepper, ma po tofu, and twice-cooked pork belly in black bean sauce with green peppers (not gross bell peppers, happily, but some sort of more delicately flavored slightly-spicy pepper). This last wasn't spicy, but the thin-sliced pork was terrific, very meaty and flavorful, and the fat was nice and soft and yielding, not at all stringy or icky in any way. (Again a waitress tried to steer me away from a fatty pork dish, and again I have been amply rewarded for my insistence. Let's hear it for fat pigs and their wondrous transformations by the cuisines of the world!)

Dessert's good too. We had black sesame rice balls, which are little mochi-like balls stuffed with sweet black sesame paste (identical to the sesame tea-cake tallasiandude brought back from China), and floated in hot syrup or water. They are DEE-licious. As it happens, I had this same dessert for the first time just last week, at Anna's Dessert House in Chinatown. The ones at Anna's were more syrupy sweet, while the ones at Chilli Garden were much finer & lighter. Yum yum yum.

I recommend you try this place out, and bring friends so you can have a wide selection of dishes. It's easy enough to get to by car, and it appears to be very close to the commuter rail stop as well, so no excuses. Keep them in business; I want to go back next time I am back in Boston for a visit.

Posted by foodnerd at March 27, 2005 05:31 PM
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