Boston's Chinatown is considerably smaller and less bustling than New York's. That being said, it is an enjoyable destination. I would recommend that you try the "dim sum" at Chow Chau City (or "Chau Chow City" - I can never remember) on Essex Street. If you have never had dim sum, it is a Chinese style brunch, where you sit at your table and steam carts filled with dumplings and other small dishes pass by. You just point to what you want and graze. If you've never had dim sum, it is a real treat, and inexpensive too. I have been to some of the restaurants in New York and L.A. that are known for their dim sum and I think Chow Chau City beats them all.
Ok, I am biased as I am originally from New York... but Boston's Chinatown is nothing compared to New York's. The only advantage to Boston Chinatown is that it is so small, you can walk around the whole area no problem.
With that said, Chau Chow City (for Dim Sum) and New Shanghai (great Peking Duck) are my favourite places. Enjoy!
Boston's Chinatown is a fraction of the size of NY's, but still fairly decent. You won't find as much of a variety here, so I'd definitely keep that in mind when visiting.
Another good dim sum place in Chinatown is China Pearl, on Tyler Street. I've found that Chau Chow (not to be confused with Grand Chau Chow on Beach Street) does a better job with seafood dim sum, while China Pearl really excels at the meaty stuff, so it all depends on your preference.
One of my favorite places in Chinatown is Shabu Zen (across from China Pearl on Tyler Street), which is a shabu-shabu restaurant, so technically it's Japanese, not Chinese. You cook everything yourself by dunking fresh veggies and thinly-sliced meat and seafood in bubbling hot broth... Very light and soothing, perfect for a chilly day.
Thanks so much for the responses. My stomach is growling just thinking about it!
The "Chinatown Eatery" on Beach St is fun and different. You go up a flight up stairs to a big open dining room which is flanked by about a half-dozen separate takeout stands. Every selection at each stand is very reasonably priced, with friendly competition in effect between the vendors. It used to be my favorite lunch place by far when I worked in the neighborhood during the early '90s.
The streets of Boston's Chinatown are grimy and sometimes also have a reek to them, but don't let that faze you.
I would go to New Shanghai. Only problem with most of these restaurants are that most are not handicap accessible. Great food at New Shanghai.
Also Hing Shing Pastry on corner of Hudson and Beach has great pastry.
I would agree that the "eatery" is great. This place is always crowded with local residents. It is not for those who want a fancy dinner with a waitress. The place is shabby and you order from a counter. You will leave smelling like the food you ate. BUT, you hear the chopping, shouting, sizzling, etc. I've never had a bad meal there and it is very inexpensive.
Which place is the most relaxed? I've lived in China and like authentic Chinese food, but would like to go somewhere we can linger over a meal.
China Pearl has been my favorite when IN Chinatown, but it's been quite awhile since I was there... the last time was about 2 AM, and Larry Bird was at the next table.
However, I must say that Szechuan is my favorite, and the last time I had GREAT Szechuan, it was in Watertown Square.
Lately, I've been eating at the Hong Kong Cafe near Fenway Park, and think their Hunan Crispy Shrimp and Hong Kong Steak are excellent!