I had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Shalom Hunan (as I still think of it) has been around for many years, ever since the early 1990s. I used to go there when I was in graduate school, and I was very glad to have a source of good kosher Chinese food.
On the other hand, in the later part of the 1990s the kosher Chinese restaurant Taam China opened. I immediately found that I preferred Taam China (or TC, as I call it) to Shalom Hunan. It didn't help Shalom Hunan's case that the few times I went there after TC opened, I found their service to be slow and their food merely palatable.
Recently, Shalom Beijing said they were reopening under new management, and one of the new features they were offerring was kosher sushi. On the one hand, Nomi and I did have a chance to try the sushi once, and it was quite good. On the other hand, the reason we only managed to try it once was that every other time we called and inquired about sushi, we were told that it wasn't available. It seems to me that if you're going to boast about having sushi at your restaurant, you ought to, I don't know, have it at your restaurant.
Anyway, in the past few weeks the Brookline TAB seems to have found a renewed interest in the kosher world of our town. (Perhaps my letter about Rubin's had something to do with it.) Last week they reported on the Butcherie and declared Cheryl Ann's challah the best in town; and yesterday they published an article about Shalom Beijing becoming unkosher.
And, as it so happens, I was quoted in the article, "Shalom, Beijing: Kosher Chinese eatery kisses kahrut goodbye" by Jessica Scarpati. The sections in which I am quoted pretty well summarize my feelings:
"Most people in the [kosher-keeping] community will shrug," predicted Michael Burstein, a Precinct 9 Town Meeting member who keeps kosher. "When Shalom Hunan first opened, it was a great restaurant. But once Taam China opened, that became my restaurant of choice."
Although Burstein said he knows many people who preferred Taam China's menu, he said the departure of Shalom Beijing is still a troubling loss for the kosher-keeping community - and not just because it was the only place in Brookline to serve kosher sushi.
"We don't have many kosher restaurants to begin with," the Fuller Street resident said. "And somebody who might consider opening a kosher restaurant might look at this and think it might be unprofitable, which is entirely untrue."