Excellent food from East Asia has never been in shortage in Boston—we are big fans. But three restaurants stand out this season for taking this culinary culture to a new level. First, there’s Shojo (9 Tyler St., Chinatown, 617.423.7888, shojoboston.com) in Chinatown, a compact club that would be at home in the hippest parts of Shanghai, Hong Kong or New York. Chef Mike Stark shows his stuff with a cutting-edge drinks list, bao and small plates of pan-Asian dishes like Wu-Tang Tiger Style Ribs and kimchi fried rice. With kung fu movies playing in the background, you can expect to see the after-work and late night cool crowd.
The South End’s Whaling in Oklahoma (647 Tremont St., 617.266.4600, whalinginoklahoma.com) showcases Japanese robata grill cuisine together with the exciting avors of rock star chef Tim Maslow (of Brookline’s Ribelle and Watertown’s Strip T’s lineage). A strong sake list and innovative cocktails are not for the faint of heart—and not to be missed. Try the prix fixe menu with offerings like charred mackerel with truffle ponzu and radish sprouts; a marinated lobster hand roll; or the miso-glazed eggplant.
Finally, an excellent entry in the business district is Kamakura (150 State St., 617.377.4588, kamakuraboston.com) on State Street. Specializing in Japanese kaiseki cuisine, the multicourse dining experience at the tasting counter is truly world-class, featuring stuffed morel and sauteed mushrooms with ramp puree, and A5 miyazaki wagyu striploin with daikon, miso and dashi butter. Chef Youji Iwakura’s time at Ken Oringer’s Uni and the Fenway’s Basho was well spent, as this homage to his hometown of Kamakura is akin to dining at a three-star in Kyoto, Japan. A special treat? The rooftop bar with its retractable glass ceiling offers spectacular views of downtown skyscrapers.