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.