Let’s face it: Chinese-American food can be the ultimate comfort food. The salty, fatty goodness goes well with an alcoholic drink, and some may see it as an extremely casual and unpretentious type of food to share, much like tapas. That’s why so many people order it to take out, spend a fun evening with friends and loved ones, maybe watching sports or something else on TV.
You’d also think that a pub night like this would be just as fun, but Chinese-American places tend to fall into two categories: a small takeout corner where you order takeout or delivery, or a family… friendly restaurant with large tables where groups can share endless plates of food in a quiet, comfortable space.
Yes, some of these restaurants include bars where people can sit and grab a bite to eat and drink, but they’re usually not the centerpiece of the place. That’s why China Restaurant & Sports Bar in Quincy’s Wollaston area is so unique, as it’s a sports bar that offers classic Chinese-American food while also offering some of the types of diner fare you’d expect at a watering hole.
Quincy has very quietly become one of the best places to dine in the Greater Boston area. Its many neighborhoods have restaurants that offer cuisines of all kinds, including Italian, Latin American, Indian, classic American, New American, Mediterranean, and of course, plenty of regional seafood, as you might expect in a coastal community.
And with each passing year, Quincy is becoming more and more known for its almost overwhelming variety of East Asian and Southeast Asian restaurants, especially in the North Quincy and Wollaston neighborhoods, which border each other and each have their own little strip malls.
Some of the best Asian restaurants in the region can be found in the area (which, by the way, is just minutes from the Boston line), many in small hole-in-the-wall establishments serving everything from pho to vermicelli to shabu to hand-pulled noodles to ramen to sushi and much more.
Interestingly, the Chinese-American places in these neighborhoods are not very large, as the focus is on authentic dishes from almost every region of China, perhaps because there is such a large population of Asian Americans and Asian immigrants. And since China is one of the few Chinese-American options in close proximity, the place tends to bring people to the neighborhood who might not otherwise.
Unlike many of its neighbors, China is anything but a hole in the wall. It is a spacious place, and one of the largest on this stretch of Hancock Street.
The layout is quite simple, with a spacious dining room on the right, another on the left and a long bar that runs along the back wall and cuts through almost the entire space.
Even with a bar that dominates the place and many televisions above the bar, The China is not a particularly loud place. Carpets and well-spaced tables help keep the noise level under control and this is by no means a wild bar – it’s a place for families, groups of friends and couples in the dining rooms, while the bar is often full of people enjoying themselves. food and drink while watching any sport on TV.
While Chinese-American dishes may be the main focus of the menu at The China, other options await, but many, if not most, diners really tend to come to this place for the old-school Chinese-American food.
The menu includes many combination plates, which is a great choice if you’d rather have your own meal than share dishes with others. Some of the highlights in this section include decadent egg foo yong smothered in brown sauce, classic boneless ribs and chicken fingers, delicious savory lobster sauce, meaty chicken wings, crispy egg rolls, fried rice (available in most combinations) and lean BBQ Pork Strips.
There are also some dim sum options like shumai, pork buns, and shrimp dumplings that complement the combo plates nicely, as well as some stand-alone appetizers not found in the combos, like Peking Ravioli, Teriyaki Beef, and Crab Rangoon .
Alternatively, order the pu pu plate if you’d rather share more Chinese-American apps with others at the table and/or order the chow mein, chop suey, chow yoke, lo mein and Singapore noodle plates.
China has an extensive menu that goes well beyond the Chinese-American options, with entire sections devoted to Mandarin, Cantonese and Polynesian dishes, while others focus on more authentic Chinese plates such as clams in black bean, ginger and capesant sauce, chicken and yu choy in garlic sauce and fried shrimp, squid and pork cutlet.
PHOTOS: Chinese-American food and cocktails at Quincy’s The China
At the other end of the spectrum is the kind of food you might find at an old-fashioned watering hole around Boston that makes it a proper sports bar. This part of the menu includes pizza (and some toppings are distinctly Chinese, like kung pao chicken, boneless spare ribs, and moo shi veggies), burgers, mozzarella sticks, buffalo fingers, cheddar cheese, jalapenos, fries, and onion rings.
Since it serves some Polynesian dishes, you might expect China to offer Polynesian drinks as well, and you’d be right. Some favorites include mai tais, zombies, blue Hawaiians, scorpion bowls, bounty hunters, and fog cutters, and some are served in pretty interesting cups (the bounty hunter is in a large coconut, for example).
There are other drink options, including some draft and bottled beers and a few different wines, and it’s a sports bar, lots of spirits and liqueurs, although Polynesian drinks really tend to take center stage.
There really isn’t a city in the Greater Boston area quite like China. Is this an old fashioned Chinese-American restaurant? yes Sports bar where you can watch a game or two on tv? Yes, too. A more traditional Asian restaurant where you can have dim sum or maybe some Hong Kong seafood? Again, yes.
Basically, it’s a multi-concept place in the best sense, where there really is something for everyone, all in an unpretentious, casual and affordable package.
One note: China is only open for dinner, but we can hope that they might add lunch at some point because these combo plates are perfect for a midday meal – they really aren’t too bad for dinner either, especially if it’s the night they’re playing your favorite team, is available on the tube.
Chinese Restaurant and Sports Bar, 681 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA, 02170. chinasportsbar.com.