For the longest time, I was always turned off by Asian fusion fare but having had some great meals at restaurants like Bent and Patois, I’ve come to realize that the negative connotation that used to come with the words ‘Asian fusion’ isn’t necessarily applicable anymore.
During our Boston trip, we visited the popular Myers + Chang (@) in the South End for their dim sum brunch which is offered on weekends. We came around noon on a Saturday and while it was busy, we were able to get a table without waiting.
The bright and colourful interior gave the casual setting a very vibrant and happy atmosphere. There are high-tops near the bar area, tables in the main dining area and some seats outside on the patio. Since we walked over here in the sweltering heat, we opted to enjoy the AC inside.
Myers + Chang is brought to us by pastry chef Joanne Chang and her husband Christopher Myers. In 2000, Chang opened the first Flour, a bakery and café. Since then, the beloved bakery has expanded to four locations in Boston. We actually popped into the South End location after our meal here for a sticky bun which was phenomenal! Tip: ask them to heat it up for you. Chang was featured on The Food Network’s ‘Throwdown with Bobby Flay’ where her sticky bun won over Bobby’s. So, they’re legit!
In 2007, Chang and her husband opened up Myers + Chang together. They’ve put the kitchen in the hands of chef Karen Akunowicz who was recently nominated for the James Beard award ‘Best Chef Northeast’ in 2015. And let’s not forget about Chang’s nomination either – she was also nominated in 2015 for ‘Outstanding Baker’.
Enough talk. Let’s get back to brunch! The menu here is very extensive so I highly recommend coming with a large group. The four of us didn’t even make it through half the menu and there was more than enough food for all of us. We definitely all left feeling a little sluggish.
The food here is inspired by Taiwanese fare and Southeast Asian street food. So, lots of bold flavours. The menu is divided into several sections: ‘cold’ (including Island Creek oysters and edamame guacamole), ‘crispy’ (including Kung Pao chickpeas and pomegranate duck wings), baos, dumplings, savory (including a fried egg banh mi), stirfries (including kimchee quinoa bokkeumbap) and veggies. Although portions can vary depending on the dish, we found that in general, portions weren’t very large.
We started off with a selection of bao’s. First up was the Braised Pork Belly Bao ($5 each) which was underwhelming, to be honest. Everyone serves pork belly baos these days and I just didn’t find this one very memorable. I prefer pork belly that melts in your mouth and I didn’t find this very tender. But on a positive note, the bun was quite nice – very soft and fluffy.
Up next was the Asian Braised Beef Bao ($5 each). It consisted of shredded beef stuffed inside the same fluffy bun. I found the meat to be much more tender than the pork belly. A solid bao but nothing to write home about.
My favourite of the bunch was the Nirvana Chicken Bao ($5 each) which we didn’t initially order. They got our order wrong and brought this out by mistake but said we could keep it anyway. It consisted of flavourful soy-braised shredded chicken and the pickled cabbage was a nice touch.
We had to order Mama Chang’s Pork & Chive Dumplings ($6). While I loved the thin, chewy and crisp wrapper and the delicious dipping sauce, the filling didn’t wow me. Given that they were called “Mama Chang’s” dumplings, I was expecting to be blown away.
Up next was the Tea Smoked Ribs ($7). I wouldn’t describe them as melt-in-your-mouth but they were still very tender and had a nice chew to them. I loved the combination of the sweet and savoury flavours in the ribs and all-in-all, I thought these were some great ribs. It was just a little pricey for two small ribs.
From the veggies section of the menu, we ordered the Hakka Eggplant ($7). I love eggplant and this dish was no exception. It consists of saucy bite-sized pieces of eggplant in a slightly spicy sauce. Delish! Even our friend who doesn’t normally like eggplant enjoyed this.
Being a big fan of dan dan noodles, we had to order the Szechuan Pork Dan Dan Noodles ($8). Served hot, this dish consisted of thick, chewy noodles with ground pork. It had a nice kick to it and while I found the noodles a little greasy, it was still quite satisfying.
The Spicy Cold Dan Dan Noodles ($8) were even better than the hot version. It turned out to be my favourite dish of the meal. The same great noodles were coated in a peanut sauce, mixed with cilantro, cold cucumbers and topped with a generous amount of crunchy peanuts. One word of warning – this dish is very spicy. Upon first bite, you won’t notice it but the spice lingers and it’ll just hit you!
Unlike most of the other dishes we ordered, the portion of the Nasi Goreng – pork, pineapple & fried rice ($8) was quite substantial. We really enjoyed their take on the iconic Indonesian dish. It arrived with a fried egg on top (I’m a sucker for anything with a fried egg!) along with some other fixin’s including green onions, fried shallots and a sambal chili sauce. We mixed it all up and the result was something very delicious. I particularly enjoyed the bits of pineapple in it which gave it a nice bit of sweetness.
From the ‘crispy’ section of the menu, we ordered the Salt & Pepper Calamari ($7). The rings of squid were lightly fried and weren’t the least bit greasy. They were well seasoned and were especially tasty when dipped into the accompanying sauce. Overall, a good dish but it wasn’t as unique as some of the other dishes we tried so I wouldn’t say it’s a must-order.
Up next was the Grilled Corn with Sriracha Butter ($6). It was quite simple and exactly as advertised but boy was it ever tasty. Grilled corn with plain butter is great on its own but the spice from the Sriracha definitely kicked it up a notch.
Another highlight of the meal was the Waffle Sundae ($7). It didn’t look or sound like anything special but this was the sleeper hit of the meal. It consisted of a black sesame waffle with a scoop of ice cream. I don’t know what they put in that waffle but holy smokes, it was SO delicious. We almost ordered another one had it not been for the fact we were planning on heading over to Flour Bakery after our meal for a sticky bun.
Despite a few unmemorable dishes, we still had a great experience. With restaurants like Myers + Chang, the negative connotation associated with Asian fusion fare is definitely disappearing.
At a glance:
- Menu of small sharing plates inspired by Taiwanese food and Southeast Asian street food
- Owned by Pastry Chef Joanne Chang (owner of Flour) and her husband, Christopher Myers
- Chef Karen Akunowicz was nominated for the James Beard Award ‘Best Chef Northeast’ in 2015
- Located in the South End; open 7 days a week
- Dropped by for the dim sum brunch (offered on weekends)
- Extensive menu; best to come with a larger group
- Highlights: Waffle Sundae, Spicy Cold Dan Dan Noodles
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 3.5 stars
- Service: 3 stars
- Atmosphere: 3 stars