Chinese takeout at its best
Late-night Chinese food and Chinese takeout in general can be a real guilty pleasure, especially for those who might be sobering up after endless bar-hopping, families or groups of friends who are looking for a greasy feast without breaking the bank, or perhaps any night owls out there who start to feel their stomachs grumbling around midnight. And while many of the area’s Chinese takeout places focus on items such as chicken fingers, steak teriyaki, crab rangoon, spare ribs, and fried rice that seem exactly the same from place to place, there are some spots that stand above the pack, offering high-quality items that aren’t quite as easy to find while also serving up the basics for those who don’t want any surprises. A little storefront in Somerville called Wang’s Fast Food is one such place, as even though this longtime Magoun Square eatery looks a lot like any of the countless Chinese-American takeout spots in the region, it features some interesting items, including one that could easily go up against those offered at some of the best Chinese restaurants in the Boston area.
Magoun Square is becoming a pretty hot area of Somerville these days (but then again, nearly every part of the city is hot), with more and more mostly independent dining spots moving in along with other businesses. And Wang’s, which is about 20 years old now, is one of the older establishments in the area—and one that is on the westbound stretch of Broadway, which makes it easily overlooked, since much of the action is over on Medford Street. Squeezed between a pizza joint and a bar, the place looks like your typical Chinese takeout spot from the outside, though perhaps a little bigger than some, and the interior is indeed not quite as tiny as some of the true takeout places, having two separate rooms, each of which has a few tables for those who opt to dine in. A little counter window is set up by the entrance where those dining in or doing takeout place their orders, and for those who decide to grab a seat here, the space is actually rather pleasant: It is quiet and doesn’t have the harsh lighting that is so often found in such places, and the people who work there tend to be pretty laid-back and friendly.
If you like piles of tasty Chinese-American fare, Wang’s has all the usual items, including the ones mentioned above, along with such classics as fried wontons, scallion pancakes, egg rolls, hot and sour soup, lo mein, kung pao chicken, chow mein, moo shi pork, egg foo young, and more. The menu doesn’t end there, however; a section featuring Northern Chinese foods has items that you will certainly not find at most corner takeout joints, with some of the options including jellyfish in garlic sauce, pork and pickle noodle soup, preserved egg with tofu, pork tripe with chili sauce, and what many people come to Wang’s for in the first place—its handmade dumplings. The dumplings here are often mentioned as being among the cream of the crop in the Greater Boston area, with the relatively thick skins stuffed with such items as pork and leek, chicken and Chinese cabbage, pork and fennel, spinach, pork and green beans, and shrimp and pork. A personal favorite among the dumplings—which can be boiled or pan-fried—is the pork and fennel, with the latter ingredient adding a slightly sweet, licorice-like flavor that complements the ground pork very nicely. The dumplings can be ordered as a 12-piece set that is cooked, or if you would rather take them home and cook them yourself, you can opt to get a 50-piece uncooked set. And as an aside, for those who think that a dumpling is a dumpling is a dumpling, note that one person who raves about the spinach dumplings at Wang’s is someone who you may have heard of before—celebrity chef Ming Tsai of Blue Dragon in Fort Point and the now-closed Blue Ginger in Wellesley (he is quoted on the front of their menu).
Wang’s Fast Food is more proof that you can never judge a book by its cover; what looks to be just another Chinese-American spot where you run in and pick up bags of greasy comfort food is a whole lot more than just that. But what’s good about Wang’s is, if you have a group that wants the old-school stuff, you can get it here while those who want something quite a bit more impressive (and healthier, for the most part) have some terrific options at this place as well.
WANG’S FAST FOOD. 509 BROADWAY, SOMERVILLE. WANGSFASTFOOD.COM
Marc is the founder of @hiddenboston, a textbook editor, a hike leader for @AppMtnClub, and a food and travel writer and commenter for DigBoston, NBC/NECN, WBZ, WMFO and indie617.