Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mystery Meet #2: Myers + Chang

After a successful inaugural event held last month at Ten Tables in Cambridge, I was on board for whatever the August Mystery Meet had in store. I checked the website each week in anticipation of a new hint to be posted. It was not until hint #4 that I was pretty sure I solved the mystery of the restaurants location, where I would be dining on Tuesday August 10th with the company of like-minded passionate foodies and bloggers.
Hint #1: It's located South of the Charles River
Hint #2: It's family style dining.
Hint #3: The chef was really on top of her Stuff this summer
Hint#4: The chef ran every Boston marathon from 1991 to 2006
Hint #5: The owners, both Harvard grads, met while working together at Rialto

The Reveal:
I had never been to Myers+Chang, but not unlike Ten Tables, it has generated an overwhelmingly positive citywide and blogwide buzz. (I can't help it that I'm bias going into these events!) To be honest, I should have solved the mystery given hint #3. Cleaning my apartment the other day revealed the Food Issue of Stuff Magazine with the lovely Joanne Chang gracing the cover. You likely know her name, her restaurant, her bakeries, but what you might not know is Chef Chang started out her career in this city as a management consultant. She graduated Harvard with honors, her degrees in Applied Mathematics and Economics. I wonder if she could have imagined then that her decision to follow a passion for cooking and baking would have propelled her into the spotlight, eventually achieving a celebrity chef status among Bostonians. Working with her partner Christopher Myers the duo brought Myers+Chang to life in 2008. It came from a place of genuine inspiration and the concept is completely unlike any restaurant to ever hit the Boston dining scene. The vibe at Myers+Chang is hip, fun and funky. It is their interpretation of an indie diner complete with stylish decor, retro Asian artifacts and even newspapers of the orient acting as placemats.
Lizzy and I arrived at 1145 Washington Street a few minutes after 7:30 where we were seated at the end of a long table already full of attendees. I spotted Seth Ressler, the brains behind the operation, in a sea of unfamiliar faces. It was an ah-ha moment after the gal sitting next to me, Bianca from Confessions of a Chocoholic and I recognized each other. I quickly became friendly with Bianca and some of the others - Cynthia from Wicked Tasty Harvest, Jen from Beantown Baker and Emily from Angry Little Chemist. There were a ton of bloggers in the mix that I was not able to meet this time around - but it's tough to get acquainted when you're at a table seating twenty!
The place setting presented us with menus tailored to the event. This small touch immediately caught my attention and made me feel welcome. Tonight we would be served 8 family style courses plus dessert at a fixed price of $35. Right away I was handed a drink menu and chose the Coco-Lime Cooler ($9). Appropriately served in a fun ceramic coconut, the rich sweet nuttiness of the coconut rum contrasted beautifully with the tart refreshing limeade and ginger syrup. Joanne Chang and Christopher Myers focus is Taiwanese soul food and Southeast Asian street food, with specialties ranging from Chinese, to Thai, to Vietnamese. Their passion is evident in each dish, whether it is a new innovation that pays homage to the flavors of the region, or a fun creative interpretation of a classic. They strive to use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. Dinner tonight was uninhibited, and in the best sense of the word - overwhelming. I have never been treated to such exquisite upscale Asian food. (Why did I wait so long to come here again?!) The first course was savored slowly, but after that it seemed a new dish was placed next to me just as I had put the camera down to eat the previous. Feast your eyes on the eight courses (in order of appearance) that changed how I will view "American" Chinese food forever more:
I will sincerely try to be brief with my dish recaps, but with so many to go through, it proves challenging!
A captivating and memorable first course, the Thai Chicken Ginger Salad ($9) lends pungent flavors of fish sauce and cilantro which permeate the translucent, slippery rice vermicelli. The noodles sat over a bed of crisp butter lettuce topped with juicy lemongrass chicken. This salad set the stage for what was to be an incredible meal. The Tea Smoked Pork Spare Ribs ($14) proved to be my favorite dish of the evening. These fall off the bone tender sweet and sticky ribs with a texturally rich crunchy glaze atop them were absolutely phenomenal. My least favorite dish ended up being the Chicken and Rapini Stirfry ($13). I'm not sure if it was the way the broccoli rabe was prepared, (a vegetable I'm actually quite fond of) or the flavors of the potent chili oil, or perhaps a combination of the two. I don't think it was a bad dish by any means, but the extremely bitter taste encompassing the ingredients was unfavorable to my palate. White rice ($2) was a welcome side dish served somewhere in the midst of all this exotic and spicy food! Wok Roasted Mussels ($15) and I met for the first time tonight. A brilliant interpretation of a classic American seafood dish, the broth was bursting with bright lemongrass flavors. Certain bites proved incredibly spicy - there were definitely some unlisted spicy chilies hiding in that bowl! The garlic toast piled on top was grilled perfectly crispy. Did I mention the fact that for the first time in my life, I was eating mussels with chopsticks?!I was overjoyed that I got to eat tofu last night. I don't prepare it at home and rarely order dishes with tofu as the star ingredient. The fresh flavors in the Vegetarian Tofu and Broccoli Chow Fun ($12) made with thick rice noodles and bathed in a light and slightly sweet sauce were a winning combination.The Tiger Tears ($11) which Lizzy is digging into below, were thin strips of grilled steak with stir fried bell peppers, served cold.
I enjoyed the familiar flavors of lime and thai basil and the unfamiliarity of khao koor sprinkled on top. Khao koor is a Taiwanese powdered fried rice; a crunchy, toasty concoction that added a unique flavor and texture to the dish.The Lemony Shrimp Dumplings ($13) prepared potsticker style; steamed on one side and pan-fried on the other were just plain addictingly good. And last but not least, the Crispy Spring Rolls ($5) finished this marathon of food in second place. Stuffed with garlic chives, bamboo, carrots and shitake mushrooms, these were easily the best spring roll I've ever tasted.
Not only was the exotic food awe-inspiring, but so was the Far-East decor.
I only photographed one half of the restaurant, particularly the high tables, but the space also includes plenty of regular-level tables and a bar over looking the open kitchen. That's right, an open kitchen where we spotted Joanne Chang herself hard at work. She even came over to say hello. I was elated to say the least. She is just as adorable as she looks in this picture, in person. I forgot to turn my flash on for the first shot! I think that worked out favorably, because I'm secretly loving the shadows cast on us thanks to the dragon designs painted on the floor to ceiling glass walls.

You do not want to skip dessert here, that is for certain. This coming from the girl who sampled the entire "Sweet Endings" ($7 each) menu.
Above is a half eaten Chocolate and cocoa nib terrine with Vietnamese coffee sauce. I guess that's the name of the game when you're sharing family style. Certain desserts were passed from the opposite end of the 20 person table, which didn't make for lovely photos, but in the end, it's the taste that counts.
The Frozen vanilla bean parfait with fresh orange granita was served to our end of the table first! This dessert was incredibly refreshing, bursting with sweet orange iciness and creamy comforting vanilla.
The Coconut cream pie was also served in directly front of me. The luscious coconut filling is elevated by a creative, zesty lime whipped cream and a topping of crispy coconut shavings.
The Banana creme caramel with black and white sesame brittle didn't look like much, since it was mostly consumed by the time it got to my end of the table, but the few bites of cream caramel I had were luxurious. I'm also bummed the Lemon-ginger mousse coupe with homemade fortune cookie missed the camera. The chocolate fortune cookie balancing on the rim of the glass was quite amusing.
I'd love to know the secret behind the "Ancient Chinese Secret" chocolate mousse. It achieved a perfectly smooth texture and a balanced, almost restrained sweetness. The homemade 5-spice marshmallows are thought provokingly good, adding a playful element to the presentation. It's going to be tough to top Myers+Chang at the September Mystery Meet that is for sure! The service tonight was nothing short of excellent. Our waitress Lily, was a doll. As we exited the restaurant, each and every one of the staff members in our path stopped what they were doing, smiled warmly and bid us a genuine farewell. Myers+Chang clearly went above and beyond - from the welcoming hospitality to the inspiring and innovative work in the kitchen, I want to thank everyone who played a role in making the second Mystery Meet a wonderful and memorable event.
Myers & Chang on Urbanspoon

32 comments:

this free bird said...

oh my. this looks and sounds like such a great evening (or 20!!!)

xoxo,
carrie

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

It sounds like it was a great time! I've never had a bad meal at Myers + Chang...I can't wait to head to the next one in September!

Melissa said...

The whole mystery meet idea sounds so fantastic! This restaurant looks super-delicious.

Megan said...

Looks like you had a wonderful time! Those potstickers look AMAZING!!

Megan said...

Looks like there was a much bigger group at this Mystery Meet. Wow! Glad you had a fun time, and I loved reading your recap. You know all those desserts are made at Flour, right? ;o) I loved learning to make marshmallows... and that cacao nib terrine might be my favorite thing ever!

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Loads of great dishes, but the tea smoked pork spare ribs look really good.

Awesome photos.

Daisy said...

Megan - the entire table (well my side at least) was a buzz with the fact that the desserts are made at Flour!! I wasn't sure if that meant ALL of them, like even the ice cream granita? and the puddin? But I was totally thinking "i wonder if Megan made this coconut cream pie, or the cocoa nib terrine." I need to get to Flour ASAP!

Seth Resler said...

So glad you made it out! These photos are amazing! And you describe the meal so much better than I could! Hope to see you at our next event!

A. Chris said...

Wow...if the food is as great as your writing...Wow! I'm on a plane...

dmcgirl said...

The lemoney Shrimp made me sit up at attention. Everything looked so lusciuous!!! Mmmm... I am literally drooling! ;-)

MelissaNibbles said...

I want those dumplings. Looks like a fun event!

5 Star Foodie said...

A great meal, the tea smoked pork spare ribs look and sound amazing!

Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

I have wanted to go tehre!!!The food looks awesome. I follow her on Twitter/love Flour.

PS: Your Summer Snapshot is up! :)

Christina said...

all that food looks so good. the dumplings are my fave!

Corinne said...

aw what a great picture of you and lizzy! i shouldn't stop there, the one with bianca and joanne chang is super cute and all the food photos! gaaaaaaaaah. i don't even know if i can ORDER american chinese food ever again after reading this/seeing these pics!

emily said...

Thanks for the shoutout Daisy! Wonderful to have met you! I was kicking myself for being so lazy and not taking any pictures but your post makes it all go away. Your pictures and descriptions are better then I would have ever attempted to do. Until the next one! :)

Lizzy said...

What a fabulous post- you are such a good writer- I wish I was. Now I need to get on the ball and write mine!

Jen said...

How cool is this post!? That looks like so much fun and everything from the drinks (I want one of those coco-lime drinks now!) to the food looks wonderful!

Meghan@travelwinedine said...

Love this post! We are obsessed with Myers + Chang. I was bummed to miss this but had another event. . . and have wine class for the next few months on Tuesdays so I will continue to miss it! :(

Katrin said...

What an excellent recap of this memorable meal, Daisy! Glenn and I hope to meet you at an upcoming Mystery Meet!

Katrin

Jammer said...

I always end up reading your posts after dinner and I somehow still end up hungry! haha Those potsticks look amazinggggg.

http://jammer10am.blogspot.com/

Minnie Burton said...

Hi THANKS for your sweet comments. Following your blog via Google but can't find how to do it via facebook and networked blogs!

Help!
x

Jen said...

Damn girl, you have to be a restaurant owners dream!! About how many days a week do you go out to eat? Heck, I'd go out every night if I could! ;-)

glenn said...

Daisy -
You have a great palate and an eye for detail.
Enjoyed your post very much, especially the fotos.
Thanks for the comment.
Glenn - winedinewith.us

shari @ little blue deer said...

Oh, man! Love this! I read it all, Daisy, some of it out loud to Mr. Deer! Not only does the food look delish, that decor is amazing, just my style, I love quirky! And I just threw up a little bit that the owner is not only a Harvard grad, mathematician and chef, she is gorgeous, too! Makes you a little sick, lol, I guess you get used to this, living in Beantown! Loved this!

Connie @ SogniESorrisi said...

Looks like a great place!

Lynzy said...

This sounds likes so much fun! I would love to attend one of these, too bad there aren't any around me :(

xo Lynzy
http://fromskirtstoskillets.blogspot.com

Ameena said...

That is a ton of food! Everything looks delicious especially the potstickers... I love potstickers!

I love this whole concept, wish there was something like this in my area.

Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear said...

Ribs? spring rolls! COCO LIME COOLER? bloggers and foodies? I think you just described my dream evening out :D

Simply Life said...

I finally signed up for mystery meet but couldn't make this event :( I love this restaurant though!

carlys27 said...

a simply irresistible and ever so delectable description of what seems to be an amazing place! i love my cousin!

Terrianne, Call me Ree said...

Umm, okay...I really have to check this Myers+Chang place out. It sounds wonderful!