Back in January when I shared a recipe for Spicy Sesame Noodles, I mentioned that I had been doing some recipe testing for Joanne Chang’s forthcoming cookbook that she is writing with her husband, Christopher Myers, and Myers & Chang Executive Chef Karen Akunowicz. The cookbook will celebrate the recipes from the restaurant, Myers & Chang that Joanne opened with her husband in 2007 in the South End of Boston. The restaurant offers Joanne and Karen’s personal interpretations of traditional Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes. The objective of the cookbook, which will be available in 2017, is to bring the restaurant’s classic dishes to the home kitchen. To learn more about the cookbook, you can read this Eater interview with Joanne here.
If I have my numbers straight, I tested close to 20 recipes in total, initially climbing a learning curve as I navigated the ingredients in a few of the dishes I attempted. I traveled from market to market to make sure I had every ingredient correct, knowing that in recipe testing for a cookbook, there is no room for personal interpretation. She wanted to make sure these recipes worked for the home cook.
The process was easy – Joanne would send out an email and testers could pick what they wanted to try. Generally, three people tested each recipe and many recipes went through more than one cycle to get it just right. A list of questions was asked to be answered with each recipe, which Joanne read with great detail. She was incredibly gracious and so responsive, confirming to me what I already knew – she truly is a rock star. You could feel the attention to detail she brings to her work through her email correspondence. I just admire her so much for all that she has accomplished in the food world.
She has just opened her fifth Flour Bakery in Harvard Square and has two more in the works. If you follow her on Instagram, you can have a daily glimpse into Flour’s deliciousness. The Myers & Chang cookbook will be her fourth, the previous three written about the sweet side of life. I believe another cookbook is in the works as well.
Here is a gallery of some of the recipes I tested for the Myers & Chang cookbook…
Doesn’t it make you want to pre-order the cookbook? Unfortunately, we can’t do that just yet but I am hoping soon! Many of the recipes my husband and I ate for dinner (thus the weak lighting in the mostly nighttime photos). I also invited a group of women over to enjoy several of the dishes at once which also included a Chinese Caesar Salad.
Last weekend, my husband and I went to the Huntington Theater to see a matinee of Tiger Style, a new show for the company. Afterwards, we walked the short distance to Myers & Chang to enjoy an early dinner. It was only my second visit to the restaurant, my husband’s first. M&C is obviously not new to the Boston dining scene, but if you haven’t been here in awhile (or have never paid a visit), do go soon as there is a reason restaurants stay in business for as long as they do. Consistency rules the day. Service is equally important. Atmosphere always helps. Myers & Chang combines all of those qualities with vibrant and delicious food for a winning formula.
The restaurant is not too large so I would suggest a reservation, although walk ins are welcome. It was already very busy when we arrived at 5:00 and populated with couples, young professionals, extended families, some solo diners and older theater goers like ourselves. Depending on how many you have, the seating options range from traditional tables, to a high top communal table, seating at the bar which is part of an open kitchen, or you can dine solo at one of the many stools in front of the large picture windows facing Washington street. I would describe the mood of the restaurant as energetic, yet romantic enhanced by the lighting as the evening progressed. Our waiter, Joe was excellent along with the young man who was shadowing him for the evening to learn the ropes. At the meal’s end, he asked how we enjoyed everything and it was then that I mentioned I had done some recipe testing and asked if Joanne was in the kitchen (she unfortunately wasn’t). Joe immediately engaged, excited that we were there and sent us home with a lovely box of cookies to enjoy later! Hopefully I will meet Joanne at the book launch party next year!
We ordered several dishes starting with this Spicy Tuna Poke. The fresh tuna was tossed in a ponzu sauce and mixed with cucumber, radish, scallions and crispy wheat berries. The tuna was served over a bed of warm rice and drizzled with a sriracha aioli. The tuna was so fresh and the whole dish was a contrast of flavors from the citrusy ponzu to the spicy sauce, textures from the silky tuna to the crispy wheat berries, and temperatures from the cold tuna to the warm rice. Delicious…
Next up were Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps that were served with lots of fresh herbs and a nuoc cham sauce made from fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chili. The flavor of the little pork patties themselves was amazing. Highly seasoned, when combined with the fresh herbs (we particularly loved the mint), rolled in the lettuce and dipped in the sauce, they were heavenly…
We definitely wanted to try a couple of the dishes I had tested so we chose the Wok-Charred Udon Noodles that were tossed with chicken, baby bok choy and a black bean-oyster sauce. The sauce was slightly different from the recipe I tested but if you go, you need to order this dish because it is perfect in every way. It was definitely one of our favorites. A little heat, a little crunch from the bok choy, with bites of chicken and creamy noodles…
Mama Chang’s Pork and Chive Dumplings served with the Black Pepper Scallion Sauce did not disappoint (and were so much better than mine!). Stuffed with a savory pork filling with cabbage and fresh garlic chives, the dumplings were perfectly pan fried, crispy and light thanks to the brand of wrapper they use. The sauce is to die for and I am pretty sure you will find it in the cookbook next year!
Grilled Kalbi Short Ribs were brushed with gochujang, a hot and sweet Korean sauce and served with a giardinera kimchee. We especially loved the cauliflower in the kimchee! Of everything we ordered, this may not have been our favorite, but we thought it was very tasty and the contrast of the pickled vegetables with the spicy meat was really nice. The meat was really good leftover as well..
These Red Miso Glazed Organic Carrots definitely stole the show. I had never used red miso paste before testing for Joanne and, when mixed with butter and added to dishes, the miso provides such a unique flavor. A umami of sorts I would say. These carrots were thinly sliced, charred and tossed with a miso butter and garnished with fresh scallions. I thought I could figure out how to make them, but I didn’t have time this week. In the meanwhile…
I found Joanne’s recipe for them online here! I am going to make them for Thanksgiving…
A few meringues finished off our meal. We ate them on the walk back to our car…
Myers & Chang is open daily from 11:30 am for lunch and dinner. The restaurant has several menus, including gluten free, shellfish free, nut free and vegetarian. A Dim Sum brunch is offered on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm. And the funnest – Myers & Chang offers “Cheap Date Night” on Mondays and Tuesdays from 5:00 to 10:00 pm. For $45, two people can enjoy a full dinner that includes selections paired by the kitchen.
One more thing to note – if you are not busy during the evening of November 10th and you are local, Joanne will be speaking at the Women to Watch Series: Shaping the Future of Boston. You can learn more about that event here. I am disappointed that I cannot attend!
See you next week!
One Year Ago: Green Beans with Tomato Sauce (Fassoulia)
Two Years Ago: My week with Ina Garten
This is our favorite spot, Val! We love sitting at the bar kitchen side and watching as the dishes are fired. When do you think the book pre-order will be? Loved this post!
Val, how great that you were chosen to test recipes! You rock!