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Phantom Gourmet: Best Little Restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown

BOSTON – It may be small in size, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in flavor, in the dishes, and in personality.

BLR or the Best Little Restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown is the latest installment from restaurateur Brian Moy, who brought other hot spots, including Shojo, to Chinatown. It seems like his latest venture may take top prize when it comes to being deemed “the best”.

From the moment you set foot inside the door, it is clear this place is special.

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“Once you first walk in to the restaurant, the first thing you will see are mahjong tiles,” Brian explained. “Mahjong tiles is one of the most popular games in all of Asia. We literally spent 6,7,8 hours a day, piece by piece, one by one, cementing them to every inch of this entrance.”

Once you have made your way through the door, you will find a cozy nook reminiscent of the days of Chinatown past.

“We wanted to do a nostalgic throwback to the heydays of Chinatown, very Bruce Lee, underground gambling parlor feel.”

You will find the menu has a mix of traditional dishes and modern Chinese fare.

“We try to do food that differentiates ourselves from other restaurants. You’re going to see a couple dishes that you recognize from a different restaurant, but our take on it is a very unique way of eating it,” Brian promised.

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General Chen’s Wings at Best Little Restaurant (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

There are starters like the Surf Clam Ceviche served with rice noodles, presented elegantly in a shell, or the deliciously decadent Roasted Bone Marrow that comes with scallion pancakes to spread all the good stuff. The appetizer everyone seems to love are General Chen’s Wings, named after master chef Chen Jun Li.

“We all love chicken wings. That’s his version of a chicken wing. It’s a little bit like a General Gau sauce, but there’s a little bit of extra tang, and definitely a little bit more love and heart and soul in it.”

If you are craving some carbs, you can order the House Fried Rice spiked with shrimp and Chinese sausage, or the spicy and satisfying Szechuan Bolognese.

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Szechuan Bolognese at Best Little Restaurant (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“Being in Chinatown, we wanted to play an ode to our nice neighbors at North End,” Brian said. “We did a Bolognese, Asian-inspired Szechuan noodle sauce. We do in-house, hand-slapped noodles. We do a slow cook ground beef and pork meat sauce that has a little bit of a numbing peppercorn sensation. Then we balance it off with a little bit of house-made pickles on top.”

For more of that North End meets Asia flavor, order the so-called Lionhead Meatballs.

“Lionhead meatballs is a traditional Shanghainese dish. It’s more like a baseball size meatball. It’s stewed for many hours. It’s going to taste more like a honey barbecue meatball, so it’s definitely on the sweeter, savory side,” Brian described.

Entrees at BLR run the gamut, from veggie dishes like the Wok Charred Eggplant with Tahini and Lemon, to Hawaiian Beef Short Ribs in a soy pineapple marinade.

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Hawaiian Beef Short Ribs at Best Little Restaurant (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“It’s our version of almost like a beef teriyaki. Instead of a beef on a stick, we cook it with the bone on so you get actually more flavor. It’s a more refined beef teriyaki dish.”

There’s Honey Walnut Shrimp served in a sweet cream sauce, and Braised Hong Kong Steak cooked ultra-tender and served with long beans and roasted garlic. For a dish that’s interactive and tasty, order the Duck Confit Mooshu.

“We do a traditional Moo Shu, but we do it duck confit style,” Brian explained. “We do a house-made Moo Shu wrapper as well. We have some good Brussel sprout leaves for the crunch and house-made apple hoisin sauce. Once you put it all together, it’s almost like a little quesadilla.

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Duck Confit Mooshu at Best Little Restaurant (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“When you bite into it, you’re going to get a little bit of that gooey, duck fat that’s coming out of the confit. Then you’re going to get the autumn apple crisp, and definitely an explosion of flavor in your mouth that’s going to be like a party.”

Whether you frequent Chinatown or you are a first timer to this type of fare, Brian and his team will make you feel at home when you visit BLR.

“We feel like we’re a good segue to really introduce people that are not familiar with this area to come in, sit in a nice atmosphere, have some good quality made food, do something really fun and inventive at the same time.”

You can find BLR at 13A Hudson Street in Boston’s Chinatown, and online at blrbyshojo.com.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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