Why have one Quick Bite when you can enjoy a trio? Despite it all, restaurants are opening, pop-ups are happening, and chefs are soldiering along. Ahead, here are three tasty ways to broaden your culinary horizons this week.
For a throwback taste of Chinatown
Doris Huang, who once presided over Chinatown’s much-missed King Fung Garden and China King, pops up at the South End’s Frenchie Wine Bistro (560 Tremont St.) for a Peking duck feast on Tuesday, Feb. 1, starting at 5 p.m. to honor the Chinese New Year.
China King closed in December 2020 amid COVID, breaking the hearts of many neighborhood fans. Times had changed: There was less foot traffic, fewer customers, and more competition. Plus, staffing was a problem.
“It was very hard to hire people. She was doing a lot of the heavy lifting, if not all of it,” says Huang’s son, Phillip Mei. “It wore on her. Her body couldn’t keep up anymore.”
Huang came to this country in 1986, and the neighborhood is different than when his mom got her start as a waitress at King Fung, Mei says.
“I definitely feel like that sort of sense of community has waned over years, especially with the changing of the guard. A lot of the older business owners are gone now,” he says. (The family still enjoys visiting Jade Garden and Peach Farm.)
So this is a welcome development. She’ll serve a multi-course menu: scallop pancakes, pork and shrimp shumai, duck three ways, and sweet red buns for dessert. Get tickets at www.eventbrite.com.
For healthy eating: Zoe Açaí Bar & Juicery
Phong Nguyen, who cheekily calls himself the “boss of Boston sushi,” runs this spot near Porter Square (1876 Massachusetts Ave.), specializing in smoothies, bowls, and sandwiches.
Nguyen is delightfully unabashed in his love for food. He came to the United States from Vietnam in 1993. His first job was as a dishwasher in New Mexico. In Massachusetts, he opened Pho 88 in Lowell, as well as Yoki, serving poke bowls and ramen at branches in Medford and in the Seaport — but his preferred restaurant is actually an American staple.
“I like to eat. Every time I’m stressed, I always go to my favorite restaurant: Texas Roadhouse,” he says. “They’re so happy! They make me forget! They can just enjoy the party.”
That’s what he hopes people can do at Zoe, with his colorful bowls and sandwiches.
“That was my enthusiasm to do a new restaurant. Good food, good service, and get back to work,” he says.
He recommends the grilled chicken pesto panini with a touch of sweet soy and the Zoe bowl with açaí pulp, banana, blueberries, coconut flakes, mango, kiwi, and agave syrup.
For star power on the South Shore
I get a note almost every week: “More South Shore restaurants, please!” (And those are the nice ones.) Ask, and you shall receive: Pembroke’s new Osteria Vivo (254 Church St.) has Douglas Rodrigues in the kitchen, once executive chef at Ken Oringer’s Clio, as well as Liquid Art House and the Tip Tap Room. Restaurateur Jimmy Burke got his start as a chef at Cambridge’s Harvest, going on to run Allegro and the Tuscan Grill in Waltham.
The menu is luxe Italian: bone marrow bruschetta, lobster and oxtail Bolognese, saffron and crab risotto, and roasted duck breast with carrot-duck fat ravioli.