Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mary Chung's Sizzling Szechuan Cuisine

One of Mary's signature appetizers, Suan La Chow Show

Dun Dun Noodles with Sprouts and Spicy Peanut Sauce

Some days you just want a delicious, quick, inexpensive meal in a relaxed, friendly and unpretentious environment. Mary Chung is just the ticket. It's the kind of place where customers greet "Mary" by her first name because they've been there so often. If you walk in and the rest of your party isn't there yet, they will seat you anyway and serve you a nice hot pot of tea to keep you company. If all you want is a bowl of wonton soup, the waitress doesn't give you the stink eye for not ordering more. If you're having a bad hair day (like I was) and need to leave your hat on, so be it. And if you're eating out budget is eaten up, chances are you'll still have enough for Mary Chung. Nothing on the menu is over $10.75.

And did I mention the food? It's amazing. I crave Mary's food about once every couple of weeks as does every student and faculty member from MIT I think. Mary's menu is unlike your typical Chinese menu and is worlds better than most. First off, don't go in there without ordering the Suan La Chow Show (pictured above). It's a bowl of about 6 large, meaty wontons with a spicy hot and sour sauce and bean sprouts. These wontons are top notch, absolutely delicious. And only $3.95. One order serves 2-3 people. The Dun Dun Noodles are also outstanding. The noodles are typically mixed with a spicy peanut sauce but I prefer to have the sauce on the side because they tend to drown the noodles a little. Besides, that sauce is SPICY! As is virtually everything on the menu that's in RED. Luckily a pitcher of water is always a fixture on the table. Another favorite dish is the Dried Spiced Tofu with Pork ($7.95) which sounds kind of uneventful but it's fantastic. I love this kind of tofu because it's not all mooshy. It really holds up and almost tastes like a thick noodle. My friend, Tom, turned me on to this dish. Thanks Tom! The Wonton soup ($3.95) is also recommended as they use the same wontons they make for the Suan La Chow Show. My final recommendation is the Jumbo Shrimp with Broccoli (enough for 2 at $9.95). The shrimp are huge and succulent. As for the broccoli, there's plenty of it. Makes you feel good eating it when some of the other dishes might not be all that healthy.

So next time you're in Central Square, say "hi" to Mary and settle in for a good meal. Where else can you fill your tummy, clear your sinuses, and read your fortune - all for under $20?

Mary Chung Restaurant, 464 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge (Central Square), 617.864.1991
Mary Chung's has a take-out menu but they do not deliver. They're closed on Tuesdays and they only accept cash - because they can.

4 Comments:

Anonymous always bring tupperware said...

Great service, calming classical music, great food and plenty of it. Mary Chung's never disappoints!

9:30 AM  
Blogger xoxobono said...

when are you gonna take me there sis?
sounds so good!

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Columbine said...

100% agreed! I've never had anything there that wasn't super-delicious, and I'm there at least once a month. The Dry Cooked Spicy Beef is delicious too, as is the Yu Hsiang Eggplant. And they do spicy green beans the way they should be done. For something different, try Grandmother Pie, a savoury pastry with a pork and black bean filling, for an appetizer when it's available - it's hearty and flavorful, a real treat. And it's always worth asking if they have Pea Pod Stems, a tender green that's not always printed on the specials menu.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous ChowShow said...

so delicious

4:30 AM  

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