fb-pixel8 restaurants to eat at for AAPI Heritage Month in Boston Skip to main content

Eight restaurants to eat at for AAPI Heritage Month

From the best Vietnamese sandwiches to stylish Sichuan fare, they offer cultural celebrations with flavor.

The oxtail pho with bone marrow at Le Madeline in Quincy.Danielle Parhizkaran/Globe Staff

May is AAPI Heritage Month, with the inaugural Boston Asian Restaurant Week currently underway. From the dim sum parlors of Chinatown, Malden, and Quincy to the pho shops of Dorchester’s Fields Corner to Allston’s plethora of Korean specialties, the Boston area offers a rich tapestry of restaurants at which to mark the month. The hard part is choosing among them. Here are eight recommendations:

A special combination sandwich at Bánh Mì Ba Lẹ in Dorchester. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/file

Bánh Mì Ba Lẹ

The fillings are important, of course they are. But what makes bánh mì truly excellent is the bread, and that is why the sandwiches at owner Jennifer Nguyen’s Dorchester spot are among the best around. The crusty, baguette-like rolls are baked daily, then filled with grilled meats, pâté, crisp pickled vegetables, cilantro, house-made mayo, and more. Stock up on Vietnamese prepared foods and groceries while you’re here, and grab an avocado smoothie or iced coffee with condensed milk on your way out. There’s now a branch in Malden, too, located inside the 99 Asian Supermarket.

1052 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, 617-265-7171, www.balebanhmiboston.com


Lox rangoon at BoonNoon Market in Arlington. Lane Turner/Globe Staff

BoonNoon Market

Owner Nutthachai “Jeep” Chaojaroenpong helped launch DakZen, beloved for Thai noodles in Davis Square. This follow-up Arlington spot serves fresh, homey, craveable dishes you can eat in-house (there is limited seating) or take to go. Start with doughnut-shaped shrimp nuggets with sweet chili sauce; ua lao, a Northern-style Thai sausage; or spicy chicken wings. Then try the curried noodle soup kao soi; a fresh roll salad bowl; or kao pad rod fai, fried purple riceberry rice. Sticky rice with mango or coconut custard is a sweet end to the meal. The enticingly eclectic market sells everything from pennywort drink to instant noodles to herbal remedies to house-made fruit pickles.

161 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, 781-316-0059, www.boonnoonmarket.com

Bún chả Hà Nội made with Hudson Valley duck at The Eaves.Courtesy of The Eaves

The Eaves

A meal at this Vietnam-inspired Somerville haunt isn’t just a meal. It’s an atmosphere, a mood. So it also is at Cicada Coffee Bar in Central Square, the first spot from restaurateurs Vincenzo Lê and Duong Huynh, and I’m guessing so it will be at Saigon Babylon, their upcoming bar/cafe/garden/restaurant on the rooftop of Cambridge hotel Sonder 907 Main. The Eaves, their restaurant and bar in Bow Market, is tiny, warm, and distinctive; the menu changes seasonally, featuring the likes of lemongrass steamed clams, ginger shrimp-papaya salad, spicy beef tartare, and vermicelli dish bún chả Hà Nội (Anthony Bourdain’s favorite dish in Vietnam, according to Lê). Drink from a perfectly edited list of sake, natural wine, and inventive house cocktails.


1 Bow Market Way, Union Square, Somerville, Instagram @midnight_eaves

Three dishes at Ganko Ittetsu Ramen in Coolidge Corner.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/file

Ganko Ittetsu Ramen

It is likely you’ll have a wait at this ramen shop in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Arcade Building. But the line moves quickly, and besides, it’s worth it. Chef Ken Iwaoka’s Sapporo-style ramen is excellent, made with high-quality Nishiyama noodles, artisanal soy sauce, and painstakingly prepared broths. The menu offers spicy miso, several versions of shoyu, tori-shio (made with chicken stock), and more. There’s a nice little beer list, and Wednesday to Sunday you can also get Japanese fried chicken from sister shop Gantetsu-Ya, located across the way.

318 Harvard St., Coolidge Corner, Brookline, 617-730-8100, www.gankoramen.com

Lê Madeline in Quincy. Danielle Parhizkaran/Globe Staff

Lê Madeline

Family restaurant Phở Linh gets a modern reinvention at dinner, with executive chef Peter Nguyen (Little Donkey, Sea Level Oyster Bar) stepping in. Favorites like phở and vermicelli bowls are still here, in addition to striped bass crudo, turmeric-coconut cakes with shrimp and herbs, Việt Cajun crawfish noodles, and bone marrow with caviar service. Lê Madeline’s food is well-conceived and delicious, furthering Vietnamese cuisine in Boston.


409 Hancock St., Quincy, 617-328-9600, www.lemadeline.com

Larb Ped at Mahaniyom in Brookline Village. Lane Turner/Globe Staff


A group of Thai expats comes to Boston to study, then gets drawn in to the world of hospitality. That’s how we come by Mahaniyom, with its bright, spicy, flavorful dishes and cleverly concocted cocktails to match. The rambutan salad, crab curry, and beef massaman with flaky roti will win you over; if you’re already a convert but haven’t yet had the pla lui suan, a deep-fried whole fish loaded with chiles and herbs, there’s your next order. Merai, an “elevated dive bar” featuring food with Thai flavors, is coming soon from the same group.

236 Washington St., Brookline Village, Brookline, 617-487-5986, www.mahaniyomboston.com

The Swing Pork Belly at Mountain House in Allston.Devra First

Mountain House

Szechuan Mountain House, a popular New York-based outfit with an outpost in Los Angeles, opened in Allston late last year and was immediately mobbed. Your table should be ready just about now. Come for the lengthy and compelling Sichuan menu (everyone seems to order the Swing Pork Belly, thin strips of meat alternating with thin strips of cucumber, hanging from a table-top scaffolding above a dish of garlic and chile oil). Stay for the soothing, stylish decor.

89 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-329-6920, www.szechuanmountainhouse.com

Fried chicken bolo at Rubato in Quincy.Matt Li


If you want to eat very well and feel like you’re in Hong Kong, Rubato is your place. Chef Laurence Louie, who previously cooked at Oleana and in London, took over this space from his mother, who long ran the bakery Contempo here. The cafe’s menu includes ji cheung fun, the rice rolls served with toppings such as brisket and curry fish balls; the savory rice porridge congee; thick stuffed French toast sweet with condensed milk; and bao — steamed or baked — filled with pork, custardy egg yolk, fried chicken, and more. There is no wrong order here. There is only the question of when you’ll be back for more.


412 Hancock St., Quincy, 617-481-2049, www.rubato-food.com

Ganko Ittetsu Ramen in Brookline.Erik Jacobs

Devra First can be reached at devra.first@globe.com. Follow her @devrafirst.