A food aficionado: Clay Pot Café
By Anna Ing
My parents raved about Clay Pot Café, which took over the tiny hole-in-the-wall formerly known at King Fung Garden. Their specialties are the Taishan Yellow Eel Clay Pot Rice and Five Flavors Triple Delights on Rice plate.
The décor is still minimal, with a handful of tables. The service was friendly but at times, you will have to wave to get the servers’ attention. When we asked for iced water over the hot tea that came out, the server did it with a smile. All questions were answered well when inquiring about the menu.
The Taishan Style Round Dumpling Soup (“tang yuan” dumplings made from glutinous rice flour, which were not stuffed) ($4.85) were served in a simple unadorned broth. I like the sweetened version better with sweet fillings, such as red bean, peanut or sesame seed. Tang yuan are usually served during the winter solstice and on special occasions.
Next we had the Ginseng with Black Chicken Herbal Soup ($6.75), which came out in a small covered soup cup. The broth was strong in ginseng flavor and Chinese herbs, but the black chicken was bony.
The Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce ($5.75) did the job without being overcooked and the oyster sauce was excellent as our sole vegetable dish.
Then came the Five Flavors Triple Delights on Rice ($8.50), which features five different sauces and your choice of three meats. We opted for the soy sauce chicken and roast duck over rice, which had a side of Shanghai Bok Choy ($6.75). Due to heavy competition for roasted meats and poultry, it was passable, but the chicken and duck were just too bony.
My mom, who is from Taishan, raved about the house specialty: Yellow Eel Clay Pot Rice. It comes in three sizes (small, medium and large), so we got the small to share ($8.98, medium for $18 and large $30). The rice was covered with small-boned eel pieces topped with chopped green onion. We loved the crispy and burnt rice on the bottom, and mixed everything together. The eel was subtle and lightly flavored — bland for me. Yellow eel is smaller, as it is immature and not fully grown.
One favorite dish was the Beef Brisket Lo Mein ($6.74) with a generous portion of chewy soft tendon and beef brisket over thin crispy lo mein noodles. The sauce was flavorful but the beef brisket flavors mixed in with the noodles made a great savory and crunchy combination.
The prices are affordable and the restaurant is cash-only. I liked Clay Pot Café and would go back to check out other clay pot rice dishes not commonly found in Chinatown.
Clay Pot Café
74 Kneeland Street
Boston, MA 02111
This post is also available in: Chinese