I’ve complained to more than one person about the apparent dearth of Chinese food in Cambridge, which seems incongruous with the percentage of Asians in the area. While skeptical of the name choice, I had heard from a few people that Mulan, a Taiwanese restaurant between Kendall and Central Squares, was worth checking out. That’s how I wound up there Thursday night with L and M, for a night of Chinese food and catching up. We decided to turn a blind eye to the meat, instead ordering some vegetarian or almost-veg dishes recommended by M, a regular patron of Mulan’s. The food we had was great. The place is a semi-dump; not quite Chinatown Mott Street, not quite par. The service was uneven but the dishes came out fast. The waitresses were amused that I took photos of the food, huddled in the tea refill corner whispering among themselves. But yes, the food. I appreciated that the eggplant was cooked well, not too mushy, with a good kick. Fresh scallion a nice add-on. And important to me that it was not too oily. That’s often where “spicy eggplant” dishes run awry, in the excessive oil department. I would definitely order this again, Mulan.
Spicy eggplant with garlic sauce:
Veg friend L was craving soft tofu, so she opted for the ma po do fu. A pleasant rendition of it; not crazy spicy, tofu soft and tasted fresh (or taste obscured by sauce, delicious sauce so no matter).
Sigh, it’s a shame I did not take a photo of the last dish, which ended up being my favorite. One bite and poof went any thoughts of wasting time to retrieve the camera when I could be eating. The dish was dried scallops with bean curd skin and cabbage. I know, and it looked as unassuming as it sounded. But what a butt load of flavor beneath that staid front cover. Napa cabbage and tofu skin bathed in a clear thick sauce umamified with shredded dried scallops. On a frigid night I would come here (preferably NOT by walking), order the biggest order I could get of this dish, sit on a chair by the front counter and inhale it. Or order $20 worth of it so I could have it delivered to my doorstep. Ooh, that second thought is money.
Mulan is a solid option for non-Americanized Chinese food in the central Cambridge area. I also have to go back and try the 4-person fish soup (says M). No need to twist my arm about that!
Cambridge MA 02139
Takeout minimum: $20