Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Restaurant Review: Mary Chung

Mary Chung's Restaurant 464 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139-4132 (617) 864-1991 CASH ONLY When I used to live in Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I was a full-time student with minimal funds and a huge college tuition bill. Yes, I was the cliché starving student who created miracles with ramen noodles and tortilla chips! As a "low income" student I became frugal with my money and I was a bargain hunter. No only did I tend to find good deals, I was also gifted in finding great food bargains. One of my favorite bargain restaurants EVER is Mary Chung's. It's a medium-sized Mandarin-Szechuan restaurant in the middle of eclectic Central Square. I have to admit Mary Chung was my life-source for a couple of semesters. Take note: her food is not for the feint of heart. The food is very spicy and is always brought to your table steaming hot. It's no wonder that each table has it's own large pitcher of water! Apparently the restaurant is a favorite among MIT students, but as I recall many Harvard and BU students, as well as locals, frequent the restaurant too. The place is usually busy during the weekday lunch time hours and on the weekends during Dim Sum. Mary Chung has some good lunch specials, but her most famous dish, the Suan la Chow Show appetizer ($3.35), is what I recommend. This is a Mary Chung staple made of exquisitely plump pork wontons, fried and served on top of a bed of bean sprouts. What makes this dish so yummy is the sauce it is served with. I don't know what's in the sauce but its very flavorful and VERY spicy. Other dishes I've had there that have been superb were the Mongolian Beef ($9.50), juicy steak and scallions with mild Mongolian sauce served on a sizzling hot platter, General Gau's Chicken ($7.50), cubes of chicken coated with water chestnut flour and eggs, deep fried until crispy and cooked with hot ginger sauce, and the Orange Sauce Chicken ($7.50), battered chicken breasts set on top of orange slices and accompanied with a tangy orange sauce. On the weekends the restaurant gets a bit crowded but it's worth the wait to get their dim sum: Scallion Pie, Fried Bean Curd in Dun Dun Sauce, Peking Raviolis, Small Steamer Buns, and of course the Suan La Chow Show. Mary Chung's has many other great dishes and her menu is quite generous. So if you are ever in Cambridge or live there but have never visited Mary Chung's, I beg of thee to go try it. It's delicious and it's cheap!

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