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Bubor Cha Cha offers top quality Malaysian fusion cuisine

By Wei-Huan Chen
On December 5, 2011

The predominantly Chinese clientele and staff of Bubor Cha Cha may, like other Chinatown hotspots, intimidate those who don't speak Mandarin or Cantonese. All too often, American diners are confined to the bilingual menu of Hong Kong or Cantonese-style restaurants and miss the gems ordered only through the Chinese menu or by asking the server for a suggestion. Bubor Cha Cha, which has undergone new management over the past months and now offers top notch Malaysian fusion cuisine, escapes this cultural barrier by offering one definitive menu with its best offerings written clearly inside, in both English and Chinese. With authentic Malaysian dishes balancing out Cantonese favorites like the 1/2 roast duck ($13), it's an especially great choice for open-minded parties of four or more.

Instead of opting for banalities like Pad Thai ($9) or fried rice, make more adventurous choices like the Salt and Pepper Frog ($17), chopped-up then deep-fried, with a crunchy, salty exterior and juicy inside—it tastes like chicken, but better. Or try the Hainanese chicken ($10 for half, $18.50 for whole), which our party of five quickly gobbled up. It is impressively tender and steamed to perfection. The skin is soft and buttery, which complements the white meat. My personal favorite, this dish is served with cucumbers, jasmine rice and two sauces—one a tangy soy sauce mix and the other a salty and tart green chili sauce. The only mistake we made that night? Ordering half of the Hainanese chicken instead of the whole.

While competition is stiff when it comes to Cantonese roast duck in Boston, Bubor Cha Cha's duck holds up well. As a fan of roast duck, I could immediately tell that this is great. The juicy meat and crunchy skin are superb, but the dish doesn't shine until you've picked up a piece with just enough fat underneath the skin. Combined with its signature sauce and a generous mouthful of white rice, a bite of the duck rivals anything in Chinatown. You should order this instead of the Braised Duck ($17).

Being adventurous isn't mutually exclusive with being simple. The Plain Sautéed Spinach ($10) is savory without any nauseating MSG taste (not that a Chinatown restaurant would use this ingredient ubiquitous in Chinese take-out). This spinach—not the kind you'd find at the grocery store, but the Chinese kind found in Super 88 or H-Mart—like most vegetable stir-fry, serves as a litmus test for the overall quality of the restaurant's cooking. Before tackling more extravagant dishes, a chef must be able to fry something as simple as spinach and garlic. The result is a delicate and refreshing dish that balances out the meats on the table.

The Grouper Filet with Vegetable ($15) is a balanced seafood dish with buttery pan-fried grouper, snow peas, carrot slices and Chinese celery. Like the spinach, the celery is found only in Chinese supermarkets. It is larger, less crunchy than the common celery and is more ideal for stir-fry, giving the dish a nice green broth at the bottom. If not a little pricey, this is a great traditional Cantonese dish that could easily appear in the dining room of a Hong Kong household.

Bubor Cha Cha takes its name from a popular Malaysian dessert soup ($5) that is served cold with sweet potato, taro, corn and coconut milk. Not used to having corn in your dessert? Despite the milky richness of the soup, it's actually also very refreshing. While not as light as other Asian dessert soups, it's enough to give your hot, salty meal a sweet finish. The Malaysian iced tea ($2.50) or the light yet flavorful TsingTao beer ($4) are other good choices to round off the night. Once you leave the bamboo roofs, sky-blue walls and HDTVs of Bubor Cha Cha and enter into the Chinatown bustle, make sure to walk around a bit—those frog legs take some time to digest.

Bubor Cha Cha is located on 45 Beach St. in Boston and can be reached at (617) 482-3338. 

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