Don’t blink while driving down Beacon Street in Somerville, or you might pass right by Zoe’s Gourmet Chinese Cuisine. The faded yellow sign hanging outside the nondescript building is not only easy to miss, but also easy to misjudge: it provides little indication of the delectable Chinese cuisine that awaits inside. This small storefront restaurant is a favorite Chinese take-out spot for many local residents, including, according to rumors, the late former Cambridge resident Julia Child.
Once inside the usually packed dining room, customers peruse the lengthy menu of Cantonese, Shanghai, and Sichuan dishes while watching a steady stream of take-out customers come and go. On a cold night, start with a cup of wonton soup ($2), featuring delicate handmade wontons floating in a salty chicken broth, or the hot-and-sour soup ($2), a thick, zesty, sour broth with mushrooms, tofu, and egg strands. Appetizers include house-made pan-fried or steamed Peking ravioli ($4.20); scallion-and-cream-cheese-flavored crab Rangoon ($5); and scallion pancakes ($3.50) bursting with flavor.
For entrŽes, Zoe’s offers favorites such as General Gau’s chicken ($8.75), lightly fried and covered with a perfectly spiced glaze, and lo mein ($6), featuring chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, or vegetables tossed with soft noodles, sliced scallions, and carrots. Pan-fried noodles ($7) come with the same options, but the dish is served with crunchy, rather than soft, noodles. House specialties hot-and-spicy Sichuan-style fried shrimp ($9.45) and tea-smoked whole duck ($11.50) are delicious, great-for-sharing splurges. Chicken and broccoli or pea pods ($7.75) — a generous portion of tender, thin-sliced white-meat chicken and vegetables in a delicate scallion sauce — is a great option for those who prefer the milder side of things.
The wait staff is friendly, and dining here is a pleasant experience. But for those who can’t pull themselves away from their living rooms, Zoe’s also offers free delivery with a minimum $15 order.
Zoe’s Gourmet Chinese Cuisine, located at 289 Beacon Street, in Somerville, is open Sunday through Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and on Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. Call (617) 864-6265.