The Chinese food scene in the Boston area has dramatically improved in the twenty years.
Back in the mid-1990's when I first moved to Boston, you had to go to Chinatown for Chinese food. Furthermore, most of it was Cantonese food, with a few exceptions, like the Taiwanese restaurant Wisteria House on Newbury street (who still remembers that?!) or Noodle Alcove, the only hand-pulled noodle place in town.
Post 2000, we saw an influx of Chinese restaurants of all different types. Excellent Sichuan places popped up in the suburbs. Several places specializing in dumplings opened up in Chinatown. We got a lot more Taiwanese restaurants. And then even less typical regional cuisine, like Shaanxi cuisine (hello Gene's!), and Northeastern (dongbei) Chinese food.
These days, we have a wealth of restaurants from which to choose. Most recently, I've started adding a new restaurant to that rotation. Beijing Chinese Dining, a Chinese restaurant right in the heart of Lexington Center, has been our new favorite go-to place for group meals after music practice at my church in Lexington.
Beijing Chinese Dining serves authentic Beijing fare. The manager, Paul Pai, works for GL Gourmet Group, Inc, a group originating from China that operates several restaurants in China.
I haven't eaten the entire menu, but I've tried enough dishes that I've settled on some favorites. The Ma Po Bean Curd ($8.95) is flavorful, spicy, and delicious. It doesn't have as much Sichuan peppercorns as some might prefer, but overall it's still boldly flavored, addictive, and I order it almost every single time.
Another favorite is the Green Beans Stir-Fried with Ground Pork and Olive ($9.95). In this dish, green beans are cut into tiny bite-sized pieces that are similar in size to the ground pork bits. The additional salty umami comes from salty olives ground to a paste and combined with preserved Chinese vegetables in a marinade.
This dish is really flavorful and is another favorite that we order every single time we go.
The sauteed vegetables are executed well here. My default is to get the Sauteed Pea Pod Stem with Garlic (market price), which are usually tender and perfectly seasoned.
The Sauteed Spicy Cabbage ($8.95) is fresh and crunchy and pretty good as well.
The Cumin Flavored Stir Fried Beef ($12.95) is another signature dish that almost everyone gets. The beef is super tender and generously seasoned with a TON of cumin. You have to like cumin to enjoy this dish!
One fun dish to get is the 5-Spice Pot Roast Beef. This is a cold appetizer which consists of a thin slices of beef shank that has been stewed for hours in a soy based 5-spice broth. The final product is sliced cold an resembles a terrine.
Order this with Scallion Pancakes ($4.50) to enjoy your own special sandwich with hoisin sauce.
The Shredded Potato Sauteed with Pepper ($8.95) was OK but not nearly as good as my favorite version of this dish from Golden Garden.
The Beijing Pan-Seared Noodles are also enjoyable and remind me of a similar dish I see at Cantonese restaurants. The noodles are pan fried until crispy and then topped with scallops, shrimp, beef, and a variety of Asian vegetables. It's solid and yet another dish we get often.
All in all, I enjoy eating at Beijing Chinese Dining. In general, the prices are reasonable, the ambiance is nice, and the food is good. Ever since it opened, it has become our default place to eat with friends whenever we find ourselves in Lexington (which is quite often, since I serve on our church's music team at least twice a month).
I have several US-born friends from church who have lived in China for years and recently came back to Boston. One family (who lived in Beijing for over 10 years) absolutely loves this place and thanked me profusely for telling them about it. Another family from Shanghai was more underwhelmed, saying the food in China was so much better.
Well, I can't go to China anytime soon, so I'll be perfectly pleased with at least a taste of food from a restaurant group in China churning out pretty solid food in the suburbs of Boston.
Beijing Chinese Dining Lexington
1709 Massachusetts Ave
Lexington, MA 02420