Story by Christina Ng
I frequently hear my friends from New York and L.A. say that Boston is not Asian enough — that all Asians really come here for is school. Well, I think people who haven’t visited the city recently will be surprised at just how much we’ve developed. So if you happen to be spending a weekend in Boston this summer or fall (or spring, but definitely not the winter), here is my custom Asian itinerary planned for you from the moment you arrive on Friday to your departure on Sunday.
3 p.m. The Asian Food Court
This isn’t as lame as it sounds, because any time you have a bunch of Asian shops and restaurants grouped together, it becomes quite the hangout spot. The shops at Lesley University (1815 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge) are where you can find everything from stuffed Japanese anime toys to cheaply priced ramen and curry.
8 p.m. Ramen Dream Maker
If you like ramen, then Yume Wo Katare (1923 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-714-4008) will change your life. They serve jiro ramen, made with thick noodles and super fatty pork broth. You get congratulated when you’re done, and then you share your dreams — out loud — with the other 30 people in the room.
9:30 p.m. Bubble Tea
Let’s face it, this is how Asians do dessert, and up until recently, Boston has had its issues getting good, authentic bubble tea. Now big chains like Kungfu Tea are moving in, but one of my favorites is still Boston Tea Stop (Get it? It’s a play on our transit system) (54 John F. Kennedy St., Cambridge; 617-945-0017) in Harvard Square. Their specialty is flavored bubble tea, and the shop carries mochi desserts brought in from Hawaii.
9:00 a.m. Still a Doughnut Town
We like our doughnuts here in Boston, and over the past few years there’s been an explosion of gourmet-style shops springing up all over the city. My favorites are Union Square Donuts (20 Bow St., Somerville; 617-209-2257), which occasionally carries flavors like green tea black sesame, and Blackbird Donuts, which does a spicy Sriracha doughnut.
Union Square Donuts’ green tea black sesame doughnut. Photo courtesy of Christina Ng.
10:00 a.m. Keeping It Local
I love the Union Square Farmers Market (Union Square Plaza, Somerville), and although visitors may not be in need of any produce (Flat Mentors Farm is where I get my Chinese veggies), you can still pick up goodies like Mochi Kitchen’s homemade mochi balls and Hosta Hill’s local small-batched kimchi.
Hmong Farmers from Flat Mentors Farm at Union Square Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Union Square Main Street.
12:00 p.m. Shop While Hungry
Normally a supermarket is not a tourist spot, but I know for many Asians supermarkets are a big thing. HMart (581 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 857-209-2747) is an East Coast Korean chain, and I prefer it over Chinatown because it’s usually cleaner, and there’s always an adjoining food court.
2:00 p.m. A Look Back in History
The Art of Asia exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Ave.; 617-267-9300) is definitely worth a stop. There’s everything from Chinese paintings to Korean ceramics. This summer, the MFA will host the works of Katsushika Hokusai, one of the most internationally recognized artists of Japan.
6:30 p.m. Our K-town
If you’re into Korean food, then Harvard Avenue in Allston is for you. This is basically Boston’s K-town, and it’s a street with super authentic Korean grocery stores, restaurants and bars. (Must try restaurants: Kaju Tofu House and Seoul Soulongtang.)
Oyster tofu soup from Kaju Tofu House. Photo courtesy of Christina Ng.
9:00 p.m. K-Pop and Watermelon Soju
While you’re here, get your K-Pop groove on and have some soju at Myung Dong (90 Harvard Ave., Allston; 617-206-3229). Its proximity to Boston University means there are lots of crazy college students running around, but they do keep things young and fresh.
Photo courtesy of Christina Ng.
10:00 a.m. The Nation’s Third Largest
If I’m going to do an Asian travel guide for Boston, I’m going to have to include Chinatown (Beach St.). This area has gentrified immensely over the past decade, with expensive high-rise lofts popping up around Chinatown’s perimeters. Even so, I love coming here for dim sum (Hei La Moon) and Chinese bakeries (Ho Yuen Bakery) in the mornings.
1:30 p.m. Food Trucks and Shopping
There are probably no two activities better than eating and shopping, and at SoWa Market (460 Harrison Ave.; 800-403-8305) near Chinatown, you get to do both. There’s an open market, a vintage market, a farmer’s market, and rows and rows of food trucks! (My favorite picks: Chicken and Rice Guys and Bon Me.) You can fill up your tummies and get some souvenirs before taking off.
This story was originally published in our Summer 2015 issue. Get your copy here.