Chinese cuisine

Taste of Guizhou in Allston is Boston’s only restaurant focused on Qian cuisine

Taste of Guizhou (pronounced “gwai-jo”), Boston’s only restaurant specializing in Guizhou (or Qian) Chinese cuisine, opened at Allston’s Packard’s Corner in mid-November 2021 at 1153 Commonwealth Avenue. Months later, it’s still flying under the radar, even though it’s an important addition to Boston’s ever-expanding universe of regional Chinese cuisines. Qian cuisine is not entirely new to the area – diners can find some Qian soups on the Newton restaurant menu Kitchen IQ – corn Taste of Guizhou is the only restaurant in the Boston area dedicated to the region.

The restaurant has little online presence, even on Chinese social media apps WeChat and Red, and the exterior, still displaying its predecessor’s Wing It awning, leaves little hint that a new restaurant has sprung up. established on site.

The exterior of Taste of Guizhou still features the canopy from the previous restaurant, Wing It.

Interior shot of a small, very casual restaurant.  One wall features a large fresco depicting the Boston subway map.

The restaurant seats 16 people and also offers take-out and delivery.

“I [wanted] open a restaurant to see if people like Guizhou cuisine,” says co-owner George Pan, who runs the restaurant alongside his parents, Xianfeng Pan and Dianjun Pan, who prepare the food with the help of another cook. . Pan, who graduated a few years ago from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee with a degree in contemporary dance, grew up in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou, which has a population of 5 million. “Guizhou is located in the heart of China, so few people know about this area, but the food is very delicious,” Pan said. “I hope more people will know about this area.”

The lush, landlocked subtropical province is located in southwest China, with waterfalls, ancient villages and rice terraces etched into the mountains. It is also home to Kweichow (Guizhou) Moutai, world’s largest beverage company and producer of Maotai, a baiju spirit sometimes sold for over $20,000 per bottle. The region is also known for the ubiquitous Lao Gan Ma (“Old Godmother”) crisp chili sauce and also produces other lesser-known traditional chili condiments in the world, such as ciba lajiao, zao lajiao, zhanshui and huajiao. Guizhou cuisine is just as fiery as Sichuan cuisine, but with sour and sometimes sweet flavors that complement the spices.

Guizhou’s taste emphasizes the distinct spicy and sour style of Qian cuisine, which overlaps with ingredients from neighboring Yunnan, Sichuan and Hunan cuisines – styles that tend to be more familiar to Bostonians. Pan is proud to bring Guizhou cuisine to Boston and is confident that it is one of the contenders for the title of one of China’s great cuisines. He might be on to something. While the cultural diversity between the east coast of China and the southwest may be akin to the relationship between that of New Englanders and southerners in the United States, everyone wants to eat the food others.

Close up of a take away plastic bowl of spicy soup with reddish broth, bouncy noodles, chunks of braised beef and cilantro.

Try Guizhou rice noodle soup with braised beef.

The current headliner of Taste of Guizhou is Huaxi Beef Noodles (花溪牛肉粉), named after a suburb of Guiyang. Rice noodles are similar to Yunnan cuisine, which Bostonians can find at a handful of local restaurants – Wen’s Yunnan Noodle & Ramen in Back Bay and downtown Boston, Ten Second Yunnan Rice Noodles in Allston and Chinatown, and south of the clouds in Brighton. Taste of Guizhou noodles have a good bite and bounce, and they stay firm throughout the meal. Customers should savor the herbaceous and subtly complex broth a bit before disturbing the other side of the bowl, where the confit cabbage awaits. The beef slices, lean and indulgent, are garnished with highly fragrant white pepper and prickly ash, better known as Sichuan pepper.

Taste of Guizhou offers several other mifen (rice) noodle soups, featuring chicken, seafood, or small, tender cubes of spicy braised beef. Pan has designed the offerings to be flexible, so customers can have steamed rice or fresh wheat noodles instead of rice noodles – a non-traditional option. “We had the machine, so we were like, ‘Why not? “”

Fish balls, springy rice noodles and green vegetables fill a soup with a reddish-pink broth in a white plastic take-out bowl.

Try Guizhou seafood noodle soup.

Pan’s favorite dish is only visible on the Chowbus delivery app (but diners can order it in person off the menu); look for fish in hot and sour soup for three (酸汤鱼火锅套餐 [2-3人份]). This is Taste of Guizhou’s interpretation of Kaili sour fish soup, which has two red and white substyles generically called suantangyu. The soup is the pride of the Miao or Hmong ethnic minority in Guizhou. It can be seen outside of Kaili, an area of ​​Qiandongnan, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, but it’s kind of a guarded recipe. Traditionally, it is made with carp, which is readily available at Boston fish markets. The key to the dish is a fermented sauce made from rice wine, tomatoes, salt and chilli. The restaurant does this in-house, over a four or five day process.

Taste of Guizhou also serves a small but growing selection of side dishes, good for sharing or solo dining, including fried tofu dumplings; sticky rice rolled with sweet sausage and hot sauce; fried sweet dumplings with pickled cabbage; sautéed snails; fried potato dumplings; cruller wrapped in a tortilla and a spicy sweet sauce; and the extremely spicy “devil’s fried rice”, another dish from Guiyang, which contains sweet sausages, hot sauce and cabbage. Each costs less than $20 and all will thrill diners to the rhythm of Guizhou’s spicy and sour cuisine.

Close-up of a dish of rice in a brownish sauce sprinkled with thin strips of red sausage.

Try Guizhou sticky rice with sweet sausages.

Crispy brown balls of fried tofu sit on a plate with chili oil dip.  Everything is on a red plate.

Try Guizhou fried tofu dumplings.

The Guizhou restaurant’s offerings are complemented by large ready-made chicken from Xinjiang in northwest China, simply labeled “hot chicken stew” on the menu, with creamy potatoes, capsicum and ground chicken with bone. “It’s a popular dish all over China,” says Pan, “and one of our chefs makes a great version of it.” Pan and his family aim to please by making customization available here too: it can be a “large” plate of chicken, but it can be ordered small, medium or large, and there’s also the option to get it over rice instead of the usual wide strip noodles.

Taste of Guizhou is currently open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, offering 16 indoor seating, takeout, and delivery. Note that while the restaurant’s printed menu appears to offer a very abbreviated taste of Guizhou, customers can find a wider selection on delivery platforms such as Chowbus, or by inquiring over the phone or in person.

Overhead view of two Chinese dishes on a platter, a noodle soup and a dish with chicken and potatoes.

Try Guizhou Huaxi noodle soup (left) and big chicken.