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Food Review: The Battle of The Generals General Gau’s Chicken Festival 2005

By Sie Hendrata Dharmawan

General Gau’s Chicken Festival

Asian Baptist Student Koinonia

Sept. 3, 2005

20 Chimneys, Student Center

I nspired by the recent Boston Chowder Fest and Maine Lobster Festival, MIT ABSK decided to run its own General Gau’s Chicken Festival last month. This Asian version of the Chowder Fest provided an opportunity for upperclassmen to rate the best General Gau’s chicken in the Boston area, as well as for the freshman to taste and get introduced to one of the signature Chinese dishes in the New England area. Five restaurants participated in this soon to be annual event, and the winner was selected based on popular votes. A panel of five judges awarded best restaurants in each category.

The winner of the Festival was Dragon Garden Restaurant, who also won the Most Enticing Gau’s award and the Best Texture award. The audience almost unilaterally praised the solid taste of the Gau’s from this restaurant, although the judges had mixed opinions. Justin Y. Lai ’07 disliked its bland flavor, although Jill A. Rowehl ’08 commended the balance of the sweetness and saltiness. This restaurant won the Most Enticing Gau’s award for its tempting smell and appearance as decided by the judges, although Hanyin H. Lin ’06 criticized its yellow and almost fusty broccoli.

The second place prize went to Hong Kong Caf , which also won the Best Flavor award and the Judge’s Favorite award. Some audience members applauded the richly breaded chicken pieces, while others preferred the tangy tinge. The judges agreed that the flavor of this dish was unsurpassed by other restaurants in the Festival, mostly because of its perfect amount of aftertaste: sweet, but not too sweet. The Hong Kong Caf also came close to winning the Most Enticing Gau’s award. Matthew Q. Wong ’06 commended its “enticing and pleasing smell,” while Lai liked its shininess. In texture, the audience and the judges all agreed that the crispy breading and tender meat were a good combination.

Coming in third was Quan’s Kitchen, a familiar name to most MIT students, thanks to its late-night delivery hours. This restaurant also won the Best Ingredient award. Wong described the chicken as “soft and delicate, resilient to the bite but not too chewy” and Lin said it had “firm meat but not hard … leaving pleasant tingling on tongue.” The breading looked inviting, dark and not overly fluffy.

Victoria Seafood Restaurant won the fourth place prize, as most people liked its dry and non-greasy texture. Although this restaurant did not win any awards, it did well in many categories. The judges said it was flavorful, and they also liked the soft breading. The unique reddish appearance suggested that the taste was slightly spicy — as Rowehl put it “sweet and then spicy.” The audience also thought that the dryness of the sauce made it easier to chew the meat.

The last place went to Pu Pu Hot Pot, a restaurant near MIT that lives up to its suggestive name. The audience generally disliked its dish, although the judges had mixed opinions. Angela Um, MIT ABSK co-director, praised its flavor and texture, but Lai described the taste as “like air,” and Rowehl thought that the mix of celery and carrot with General Gau’s chicken was odd. The sauce smelled like peanut, which was unusual for a General Gau’s. Although Wong thought that the meat was high quality, the lack of taste in the sauce made the taste of the meat dominant.

The first General Gau’s Festival went well with five participating restaurants despite its timing that conflicted some of the rush events. Nevertheless, the freshmen who attended the Festival were glad to be introduced to the General Gau’s Chicken dish early in the semester. Maybe they would not be so glad to know that many of these dishes will be their late-night friends for the next four years at MIT.

The results of the festival, along with the phone numbers for the restaurants are posted online at