Winters in Boston can be intimidating. You know what else can be intimidating? Finding a great place to eat in Chinatown. Don’t get me wrong, Boston’s Chinatown has TONS of great places with really beautiful authentic food, but every city has it’s hidden gems, and Boston is no different.
This place is a bit small. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked straight past it. So if you’re tired of being stuck inside to escape the cold, and want someplace new and fun to check out, you can’t go wrong with Shojo!
I would have never found this place had it not been for my husband taking me on a Bites of Boston Food Tour that he found online. They offer several different kinds of tours and the one I went on for this location was called “Chinatown’s Culture and Cuisine Tour“. Guys, if you’re new to Boston, or maybe you’re a homebody like me and just don’t get out much, these tours are a great way to learn about the secret spaces in a city. I’ve been on three tours so far. I went on a chocolate one, one that explored the Italian North End, and the Chinatown one and I’ve yet to think badly of anyone. They’re always full of useful information. If you need any more convincing here it is…I’m not being paid to say any of this. I’m just handing this info out for free because whether you live in Boston or are just visiting, I want you to have fun.
So let’s talk about Shojo. It’s not far from the Chinatown gate so if you’re looking for a starting landmark, that would be it. It’s a bit hard to miss. The front of this place has a lot of cool graffiti which also adorns the inside as well and is redone on their anniversary. As of September 2019, they’ve been here for seven years (congratulations guys)! Their iconic animal is a monkey.
They have a bar inside where they make AMAZING mixed drinks like the “Ronin Warrior” and “Yakuza Old Fashioned” which I kind of find ironic since I’ve read recently that the yakuza’s numbers are dropping in Japan. Above the bartender is a TV that is playing old Kung Fu movies like the awesome 1970’s Run Run Shaw Classics.
I’ve noticed that Hollywood depicts Chinatown’s as existing slightly outside the realm of reality. Like you go there to challenge your old Kung Fu Master, buy a Mogwai (for those of you who have seen the 1984 movie Gremlins), or help a guy rescue his fiance from the hands of an evil Lo Pan, and I would like to go on record saying….that I’ve yet to go that far down the Chinatown rabbit hole, I am a Gweilo after all…. I did learn, however, that people in Chinatown know how to get what they want despite what the law says…and frankly, I like that about them. For example, when I came here with the tour group we had a drink called COLD Tea, which wasn’t really tea at all. It’s Alcohol.”Cold tea” (not to be confused with Iced Tea) was their way of bypassing the strict Blue Laws that Massachusetts has. To avoid having to stop serving alcohol at certain times, patrons could just order a Cold Tea, and the bartender would mix up this amazing drink, and served in a teapot with teacups. It’s also the color of tea too which is funny because the cops wouldn’t know the difference unless they tasted it. I swear, whoever came up with that must have been a ninja.
If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, they have a great beer and wine selection. To be honest, I’m sipping on their house’s sake while writing this. I’ve had bad sake, and this is not that. It’s beautiful. It’s like sweet water. It goes down smooth without any burn, and it’s served cold which is a good sign (most top-quality sake is served cold as to not damage the delicate flavor).
Alcohol can make you hungry though…really hungry. I’m pleased to say that the food here is just as good as the drinks, which is to say DELICIOUS!
The portions are meant to be shared, so think Asian tapas-style. I am also munching on an order of their duck fat hand-cut fries with Sriracha aioli and guys….it’s heaven and I don’t even like Sriracha that much. I would literally take a bath in this aioli. The combo of me missing lunch, and the sake, and now these fries, is making me want to curl up in a ball and cry. It’s so good. They also have Pork Belly Dumplings, Kimchi fried rice, and Far East Baja Style Fish Tacos. You really can’t go wrong with this menu and I think the prices are absolutely fair for the experience.
So if you’re looking to escape the New England winter for just a moment, you have to come here! I promise you that you’ll have a good time if you come with a group or by yourself. They’ll make you feel welcome.
If you do show up at this place you gotta take pictures, and if you take pics be sure to tag me on your Facebook and Instagram. If you want to rave about how awesome your experience was let me know in the comments below and if you want to be kept up to date when I post something fun please SIGN UP HERE. I hope I just brightened your winter a little and I hope you have an absolutely wonderful day! -Heather Astaneh