Qing Dao Garden

I ate Chinese food pretty regularly when I was younger. In the past several years though, my consumption has fallen drastically. It started in college when the only Chinese food options were greasy hole-in-the-wall joints that I preferred to eschew. A few months ago, cravings for Chinese food began to resurface, but I was not familiar with the Cambridge/Somerville offerings. One recommendation I received was Qing Dao Garden in North Cambridge, which I finally tried out last week.

When I say cravings for Chinese food, that most often means cravings for cold sesame noodles, something I very strongly associate with the Chinese food of my childhood. As soon as we sat down I ordered them to start. Sadly, these noodles did not satisfy my craving. I loved the heap of sliced cucumber on top, but the sauce was lacking. There was very little of it and it was almost unpleasantly bland.

If you know me, you’ll know I do not require a lot of salt in my food by any measure, so for me to say that something needed salt means that the dish was really lacking in it. Our server, a lovely woman who also played the role of hostess, happily gave us more sauce, to which I added a considerable amount of soy sauce. The noodles began to resemble the dish I had been craving, but not entirely. I am continuing my quest for good sesame noodles in the area, and if anyone has recommendations, please do share.

I decided to order another childhood favorite of mine, moo shu (or moo shi, as written on the Qing Dao menu). This moo shu was brighter and crunchier than most other moo shu I’d had. It was packed with thin strands of cabbage, carrots, scallions and bean sprouts, none of which was overcooked. For anyone not familiar with moo shu, the vegetable or vegetable-meat mixture gets wrapped in warm pancakes and dressed with tangy hoisin sauce.

For his entree, Dave decided to treat himself to crispy duck. The skin was crispy and the meat was moist and still a little fatty. He enjoyed it, his only complaint being that a few pieces were nothing but bone.

I would happily return to Qing Dao and try out other dishes. The space is clean, quite the opposite of a greasy hole-in-the-wall, and the staff could not have been more gracious and accommodating. Unfortunately though, I will need to continue my search for Chinese food in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville. Cold sesame noodles are an essential part of my Chinese food repertoire and I am determined to find a good dish of them. Please share any recommendations!

Qing Dao Garden
2382 Mass Ave.
Cambridge, MA
Qing Dao Garden Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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12 Responses to Qing Dao Garden

  1. I love cold sesame noodles. I want to find a good recipe to make my own!

  2. Michelle says:

    I’m a bit of a Chinese food snob so I’d love to join your search for some great authentic Chinese food!

  3. Molly says:

    It’s true, Qing Dao Garden’s cold sesame noodles leave much to be desired. Next time you go, get the homemade dumplings. They also sell them frozen in bags of 50. We make the trip over the river especially to buy those for our own freezer. They were closed for a while, but I’m assuming they still sell them: green bean, spinach and leek. Maybe some piggy ones, too.

  4. I haven’t tried Qing Dao yet! I don’t eat Chinese food regularly because I also associate it with greasy food but when I do eat it, I lovelovelove it! I haven’t had cold sesame noodles in years, but one of my favorite Chinese places is in Harvard Square: Yen Ching.

  5. Daisy says:

    I only eat typical american greasy chinese food. I need to take a page from your book and branch out to try healthy looking noodles and entrees!

  6. Melissa says:

    I grew up eating vegetable moo shi too (I always called it moo shi) – love it! Scallion pancakes and moo shi make a great meal. There is supposedly a good Chinese place on Concord Ave – House of Chang – that I’ve been meaning to try. Perhaps it’s time to venture down the street!

  7. Megan says:

    I’d love to hear whatever recommendations you get for good Chinese spots. We are constantly striking out. House of Chang is the only tolerable place near us. It’s pretty good, but nothing amazing. I always judge Chinese food based on wonton soup, egg rolls, and pork fried rice. These three things must be amazing!

  8. Kelly says:

    Which Chinese place did you go as a kid? East on East? I love cold sesame noodles and similarly haven’t found anything like what I remember… We’re not the only ones. Here’s a link to a NYT article I remember from a few years back: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/magazine/01food.t.html

    • Elizabeth says:

      Ok, the earliest place I remember going to, I have to ask my parents the name, but it was on 3rd between 20th and 21st I believe. They closed. For a while we went to Tang Tang on 20th and 3rd. We stopped going there b/c we had some bad experiences. The Cottage on 17th and Irving was always something of a standby. Funnily enough, the best Chinese food I’ve had lately was in Larchmont with Dave. Excellent sesame noodles.

  9. Susan says:

    This place seems to serve pretty authentic Chinese food (meat with a lot of bones, cold noodles with cucumbers). But American Chinese food is a taste unto its own, very different from what they actually eat in China, which is why you probably didn’t care for it very much.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I full on admit I have had almost zero exposure to authentic Chinese food, so it’s cool that that’s what Qing Dao seems to be. In that case, you should totally try it out.

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