Category Archives: Chinese

Hello Fall, Goodbye Summer

Hello WordPress viewers! It’s been a while since I wrote a new post for foodifyme. Please excuse my month long hiatus away from my beloved blog. With the changing of seasons, there also has been a lot of new changes for me: last minute travels to the east coast, meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and most importantly scoring an array of job offers. It’s stressful not having any job offers, but it is also quite stressful when there are too many. At the end of the day I chose to stick around Chicago, stick around to the city I call home. Though I truly loved the beauty and the small town feel of Charlottesville and the attraction of NYC, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t leave the city I grew up in, the city I have yet to fully explore and live in. All of a sudden things got very real, as if they weren’t real before. To many more years of food adventures in Chicago!

Check out my food highlights from the last month.

Monticello – Charlottesville, Virginia

I made a small trip to Charlottesville, Virginia for an interview and to visit my very good friend from college. Growing up in Chicago and going to school in DC, I am definitely not use to small towns. Surprisingly, I loved Charlottesville! There was something so calming and soothing about being surrounded by miles and miles of trees and mountains in the distance. Here I am on the highest point at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s retirement home after his presidency. I felt like I was on top of the world!

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s retirement home

My friend and I were driving on the road, when Sweet Disposition by the Temper Traps came on. Perfect song for cruising through beautiful Charlottesville.

Fry’s Spring Station – Charlottesville, Virginia

Mushroom Pizza

My friends who live in Charlottesville took me to Fry’s Spring Station for happy hour pizza. All pizzas, cocktails, and beers were half off. What could be better! I got the mushroom pizza. The mushrooms and cheese tasted very fresh! I loved pizza dough, thin yet still chewy and crunchy.

Clyde’s – Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Corned beef hash with sunny side up eggs

Since Charlottesville was simply a 3 hour bus ride away from DC, I made a quick weekend stop in DC. My college roommate and I ate late brunch at Clyde’s in Georgetown. Brunch is my favorite meal of the day! You can never go wrong with eggs especially with runny yolks. I loved the combination of liquid yolk over starchy foods like potato hash. A perfect meal to start the day even though we ate brunch at 3PM. oops!

The Bongo Room – South Loop, Chicago

I have been meaning to try out The Bongo Room for a while. It is known for having one of the best brunches in Chicago. They only serve the Chocolate French Toast Tower on the weekends, so I came with a friend on a Sunday. This rich, chocolatey dish is extremely heavy. The bittersweet chocolate chunk bread stuffed with maple mascarpone was topped with a banana creme brulee sauce, bananas, and shaved chocolate. Dessert for breakfast? Bring it on! This was definitely too much for one person to eat alone, so my friend and I shared this along with another brunch dish.

Ming Hin Cuisine – Chinatown, Chicago

Cage Free Chicken Hot Pot Casserole

I came here to eat with my family. It was my first time trying this new restaurant in Chinatown, and it was excellent. The food was good, and surprisingly so was the service. When you go to authentic Chinese restaurants, you do not expect good service. You go for the food, and not the atmosphere or the service. Ming Hin offered all of that. A beautifully decorated dining area, friendly and attentive service, and authentic, delicious Chinese food.

the interior of the restaurant

toothpick in a pouch

I thought this was really great. I have never seen a toothpick packaged in a pouch before. How classy!

Homemade Dumplings and Baos with my Mom

It was a chilly, cloudy Sunday morning. The type of Sunday morning that makes you realize that Summer is inevitably ending whether you like it or not. My mom has been talking about making dumplings and Chinese baos (Chinese buns)  the entire week, and we finally got to make yesterday. It’s been a while since we made our own homemade dumplings and baos, and it was definitely worth all of the hard work.

dumplings with two different types of fillings

The most difficult part of making dumplings and baos is making the filling. You have make sure that the filling you put inside the baos and dumplings is flavorful. Like how the broth makes or breaks a bowl of ramen, the filling makes or break the baos and dumplings. My mom premade the filling beforehand, so it was already cooked when we put it inside baos and dumplings. Pictured on the top right is a combination of ground pork, chives, and shirmp. Pictured on the bottom right is a combination of group pork, green onions, mushroom, and wood ear fungus. Both of the fillings were extremely tasty, but my favorite was the one with chives.

Making the dumplings is not so hard. You buy pre-made oval shaped dumpling skins. You scoop about 2/3 tbs of filling into a dumpling skin. Then rub water on the outer edges of the top half of the skin, and using your fingers bring the two halves of the dumpling skin together to seal off the dumpling. The trick is to seal them tightly or else the filling will spill out when you cook the dumpling.

steamed dumplings

You can either steam, boil, or fry the dumplings. I prefer them steamed, because it retains the flavor of the dumplings without all of the oil that comes with frying. They came out perfectly!

Chinese baos

After making the dumplings we made Chinese baos. It is made with the same fillings as the dumplings. The hardest part in making baos is making the dough. We made the dough from scratch. After trial and error, with adding more water and then more flour, we had the airy, fluffy dough to make our baos. Unlike how you make the dumplings the dough was a little harder to work with, because it was a lot more delicate than the dumpling skin. We had to make sure that the filling was completely encased in the dough or else all the juices and filling would spill out.

steamed Chinese baos

After steaming this was the end result. The bread was slightly chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. The filling made for aromatic baos that were extremely flavorful.

What a wonderful day making dumplings and baos with my mom. I told her next week I want to try to make baked char siu baos (BBQ Pork buns). Let’s hope that comes out as well as these baos and dumplings did!

Leave a comment if you want additional information on how to make the dumplings and baos. You can make large quantities, freeze them, and eat them later on. Dumplings and baos for all!

Eating My Way Through Chicago

Last week a monstrous heat wave had descended upon the entire country including Chicago. With temperatures soaring into the 100s and breezes that only help to spread around the warm heat, one does not venture outside unless it is just for a brief moment. Indoor days for sure! Here is a collection of some of things I’ve been up to during the heat wave.

Opart Thai Restaurant – Near South Loop

This restaurant was listed as best Thai restaurant in Chicago by Chicago Reader. I am not convinced it is the best, but it is pretty good. The curry was full of flavor. The chicken was a little bland, but with the curry sauce was great.

with Thai iced tea

My friend Chris with his Thai iced tea. The decorations on the wall made it feel really modern with an authentic Thai atmosphere.

Alcoholic Ginger Beer – Binny’s

ginger beer

Ever since I had a cocktail with ginger beer in it I have been on the lookout for ginger beer. Some people told me that alcoholic ginger beer does not exist, but alas I found an alcoholic ginger beer when I went to Binny’s. It said to serve the beer chilled over ice and with a slice of lime. I made the drink this way, and it was delicious! The bitterness of the ginger paired with the slight sweetness of the beer, and the sourness of the lime went so well together! I am not a big fan of beer, but this one I am a huge fan of. If you are looking to try a new kind of beer give Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer a try.

 Shanghai Bistro – Chinatown

Shanghai Soup Dumpling

This restaurant recently opened up, so my family and I went to give it a try. We got the Shanghai Soup Dumplings which were definitely a disappointment. There was not enough soup inside the dumplings, and the skin was too thin. I’ve had the best soup dumplings in NYC Chinatown where the soup dumplings were exploding with soup and flavor. These soup dumplings do not even compare.

Lamb casserole

The lamb casserole was great. The lamb was tender and filled with flavor. My mom really enjoyed the dish noting the large portion of lamb they gave.

This was my favorite dish. The flavors of this dish were incredible. The saltiness and crunchiness all cooked in just the right amount of oil made for a really great dish.

Now that the heat wave is officially over time to head outside and have more outdoor adventures!

LOKal Restaurant and Lounge

I had a Groupon to this place, $28 for a dinner for two with 1 appetizer, 2 entrees, and 1 dessert. I decided to take my sister and her friend here yesterday. Best Groupon I have ever bought! This place is amazing. The pork belly appetizer dish is really something to rave about.

LOKal 

1904 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
Neighborhood: Wicker Park

Check out the Menu here!

Pork Belly with Braised Lentils and Pickled Celery

The Pork Belly appetizer dish was by the far the best thing I ate during the meal. The pork belly was slightly crispy and paired with an apple cider flavored glaze. The meat was so tender along with the fatty goodness of the pork fat. It went really well with the carby lentils that still had strong flavor. The pickled celery was a refreshing part of this dish.

Steak salad

They called this dish a steak salad, but I think steak with a side of salad would be a more accurate description. I was expecting a bed of greens with a few strips of steak scattered on top. Much to my surprise it was an entire steak! The steak was delicious. I asked for medium rare, and it came our perfectly medium rare! The salad was great too. The greens were fresh, and the tangy pomegranate vinaigrette was quite exciting. I loved every bite of this.

Angus N.Y. Strip Steak

My sister got the Angus N.Y. Strip Steak. Yet again I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer size of this piece of steak. She asked for it medium rare as well, and it came out just the way she wanted it. The steak was  accompanied with a red wine reduction sauce and herb butter. Her steak was tender and succulent. My sister’s friend got the ribs. All of the meat dishes that we got were excellent!

Vanilla Ice Cream and Nutella Mousse with Strawberry Sauce

This was the dessert of the day. My favorite was the Nutella Mousse. It tasted just like nutella, but obviously mousse version. A heavenly mix of hazelnut flavors and chocolate. The vanilla ice cream was made fresh and was rich in flavor. I loved the strawberry sauce. It really added an additional layer of flavor to the ice cream.

The food was really great! LOKal also has a full service bar and turns into a lounge like atmosphere at night. The decor created a very relaxing, moody atmosphere that really added to the dining experience.

What a little gem in Wicker Park. This might just be one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago! There are daily specials everyday, and Tuesday is half price off appetizers. Might have to go back soon just for the Pork Belly appetizer dish!

Stars – 5/5

Back to Blogging

Hello world! Sorry that I have been MIA for about two months. It’s been quite a long time since my last post on April 10th. Now that Summer has officially begun I will document all of my summer shenanigans and happenings as a recent college graduate! Blog from the viewpoint of a real person in the real world.

Time to play catch up with all of my food adventures. Here are just a few of the food adventures I have been up to these past couple of months.

NYC Chinatown Food Carts – NYC 

the expression of the guy on the right is great

When I visited NYC Chinatown with my sister and my dad, we stopped at this food cart to get fried fish balls. It comes on a skewer. A perfect snack for strolling the streets of Chinatown.

The Sparrows Tavern – NYC 

This place was featured on Food Network’s show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Conveniently we were in the area, and looking for something to eat besides nasty beer garden food. We decided to give this place a try, since the host of the show raved about the veggie burger. Too bad the veggie burger did not live up to the expectations. It was a good veggie burger, but I wouldn’t say it is the best. The fries were really good. The show said that they fry their fries with rosemary in the fryer. It definitely gave the fries a unique taste.  The place did have a really nice ambiance. Moody lighting, candles flickering, hipster crowd.

Highline – NYC 

biting into the ice cream sandwich

Highline is a rennovated, abandoned, elevated train tracks in NYC. It now functions as an elevated park trail for leisurely walks amongst flowers and greenery. My cousin and I shared a green tea ice cream with ginger cookie ice cream sandwich. Nothing like munching on an ice cream sandwich while taking in the NYC environment from above the bustling streets.

Matchbox – DC 

Stopped at Matchbox for lunch. Matchbox is known for their pizzas and sliders. I love tiny foods, so I had to give the sliders a try. The sliders were delicious! The beef juicy and well seasoned. The sliders came with onion straws which were extremely tasty. Couldn’t stop eating them, even though they gave me onion breath. eww..

Paulo’s Ristorante- DC

Every year Georgetown University has a big outdoor celebration called Georgetown Day that celebrates the Georgetown community. It was originally created in the memory of a Georgetown student who died from alcohol poisoning. Ironically Georgetown students over the years have turned it into a day dedicated to day drinking. Oh college! On Georgetown Day my friends and I went to Paulo’s, an Italian restaurant, for happy hour. $3 mixed cocktails including Butter Nipples and Apple Kamikaze. Cannot beat the price for the tasty drinks! They also have a list of happy hour appetizers priced from $3-$6. I got the eggplant parmesan. It was surprisingly very large. A little bit too much cheese for my taste, but still good.

Shake Shack – DC 

Why would anyone go to Five Guy’s when Shake Shack is available? I have fallen in love with the Shake Shack burgers. They use potato bread buns which hold the burger juices and keep the burger together a lot better than your regular burger bun. The beef patty is well seasoned. With minimal toppings including lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle you are not overwhelmed with a collision of toppings and burger tastes. The toppings are always so fresh. If there was a Shake Shack in Chicago, I would make weekly trips for my burger cravings.

Grocery Shopping with Carmen

Ever wonder what I eat when I’m not eating out? Back from my NYC trip, and my fridge is empty. Time to go grocery shopping! My roommate and I took our reusable bags to a Safeway that is located really close to our apartment. Unlike all of the exciting, fun local grocery stores in NYC I have my pick of a Safeway that is conveniently close, but quite boring or a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s that is fun, but not within walking distance. As a college student without access to a car carrying groceries back home is always a problem especially if I decide to go food crazy at the store.

post-grocery shopping smiles

Whew! It was quite heavy carrying everything back. I always wonder if people think I am crazy being a tiny Asian girl and carrying all of these bags filled with food from the grocery store.

grocery bags

All of this food plus whatever I have left in my kitchen should last me about two weeks without having to do a big grocery shopping trip.

my food!

This is what my normal grocery shopping trip looks like. This is the list of essentials I always get:

  1. bread
  2. lunch meat
  3. cheese
  4. milk
  5. bananas
  6. canned tomatoes
  7. eggs
  8. frozen vegetables

Nothing too fancy. Usually I do not eat and buy a lot of meat on my own though I would choose to eat it when I go out to eat. Cooking meat takes too much prep work and too much effort when you are busy college student. I usually get my dose of protein by eating eggs and tofu.

I eat a lot of sandwiches, because I am usually not in the apartment during lunchtime either at my internship or in class or at my nursing practicum clinical. Sandwiches are easy and quick. Dress up the sandwich with spreads like the Trader Joe’s Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce which is heavenly. Makes even the most boring sandwich taste amazing.

Napa Cabbage

I was surprised to find Napa Cabbage at Safeway. Napa Cabbage is Chinese cabbage used in stir fries or as a wrap. What a pleasant surprise to see it sitting next to the other produce.

 

Take Me Down to Chinatown

You can find practically anything you want in NYC’s Chinatown. A neighborhood of rich culture, exotic foods, and an array of meals for under $6. What is there not to like about Chinatown?

Xi’an Famous Foods 

Spicy and Tingly Beef Hand-Ripped Noodles and Concubine's Chicken Hand-Ripped Noodles

Oh the food! The food in Chinatown is just so delicious, made fresh, and the number one thing cheap. Joyce and I decided to stop in Xi’an Famous Foods for some noodles. I got the Spicy & Tingly Beef Hand-Ripped Noodles, and Joyce got the Concubine’s Chicken Hand-Ripped Noodles. The noodles were made fresh at the restaurant.through a vigorous beating process that makes the noodles chewy and soft. Not like your average noodles at all. The slight elasticity of the noodles was an excellent surprise. The Spicy and Tingly sauce was definitely spiced and tingled my senses maybe even a little too much. A slow build-up of heat until my taste buds were on fire.

Sun Ming Jan – Chinese Sausage Store

Chinese sausage

A Chinese sausage store where they hand make their own Chinese sausages. The entire place oozed with the color red, and smelled like the aromatic smell of sweet and heavenly seasonings of meats. It can be compared to the Italian pancetta. Chinese sausage galore.

Grocery Markets and Stores

street fruit vendors - dragon fruit and guava

Street vendors selling an array of fruit is not an uncommon site in Chinatown. Exotic fruits like dragon fruit, rambutan, guava, durian, mango, and so much more. Oh the colors, the shapes, and the textures of all these fruits were fun to look at especially if you’ve never seen these fruits before.

fish market

So much cheap seafood. The variety and freshness of the fish cannot be beat. There was even a fish who was still breathing and another flopping around on the tray being displayed for customers to buy. I don’t think PETA would be too happy about this…

Street View

taken in my 2011 trip to NYC -smaller streets in Chinatown

The streets of Chinatown are small and narrow. Both cars and pedestrians wander the streets. The sidewalks lined with tables of goodies to see and buy make it so only a single person can pass on the sidewalk at a time pushing people to walk on the streets out of convenience. The buildings with fire escapes, all the Chinese characters, different dialects of Chinese being shouted across the street really give NYC Chinatown a genuine, authentic atmosphere.

Terrible Traffic

note the motorcyclist in the middle

Doesn’t this look like a traffic accident is about to happen? That somebody somewhere will push the accelerator and ram into another car? Well thankfully a traffic accident did not happen just a bunch of congestion. Poor motorcyclist…

Dragons in the Park

The colorful dragons flying around in the park are made out of recycled materials like water bottles and plastic bags. An environmentally friendly way to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Dragon Beard Candy

the fuzzy quality reminds me of cotton candy

Dragon Beard Candy is an ancient Chinese candy described as being rich and sweet in flavor in the shape of a white cocoon. In the center is a chewy peanut butter, coconut filling. It is extremely hard to eat this without eating it in one bite, because the powdered sugar goes everywhere. This was an interesting texture like cotton candy. The overload of sugar was a little too much for my taste, but I’m sure this will satisfy anybody’s sweet tooth.

Rating – I LOVE CHINATOWN.


Triple Crown – Dim Sum

My family and I went to Triple Crown to try out their dim sum. This restaurant recently opened offering dim sum, and word on the street is their dim sum is the best in Chinatown. Off we go to enjoy some Sunday dim sum.

Triple Crown 

2217 S Wentworth Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

outdoor entrance to Triple Crown

families enjoying dim sum

When we arrived the hostess told us there was a 20 minute wait. After taking a look at a nearby gift store we went back to the restaurant and was promptly seated. This is my first time inside Triple Crown, and the place is packed! So many families both Asian and non-Asian enjoying some dim sum on a Sunday afternoon. To accommodate all of the customers there were so many waiters, waitresses, and cart pushers. You may ask what is a cart pusher? For those who have never experienced authentic Chinese dim sum you are definitely missing out. It is a really fun experience! You should definitely give it a try.

dim sum cart pushers

dim sum cart pushers

Summary of how the Chinese dim sum experience goes. You are seated at a table and given a menu. You can order your dim sum off of a menu, but during the weekends in smaller dim sum houses or every day in larger dim sum houses you have people who push carts around displaying the dim sum plates for all to see and get. The dim sum carts stop by your table, and you tell the cart pusher which dish you want.

dim sum card to keep count of the dishes you eat. The strokes together make the "wu" character in Chinese or the number five. The Chinese way to tally.

They take the dish off the cart and place it on your table, and then mark on your dim sum card that you purchased one plate. They price the plates by the size of the dish. S, M, L, XL. The Triple Crown prices were reasonable. Small $2.75. Medium $3.40. Large $3.80. X-Large $4.75. It is really fun seeing all of the different plates of food go past your table. If you see something you like call over the cart pushers and enjoy your new dim sum dish!

These are the dim sums that my family tried. We got a total of 10 different dishes. Note the S, M, L, XL in the caption of each pictures corresponds with the size of the dim sum dish.

the delicious Chrysanthemum Tea

At most dim sum places there is complimentary tea. My sister loved the Chrysanthemum tea here. Usually the tea is premade elsewhere and poured into the individual teapots placed on each table. Here the tea is made fresh with what looks like really good tea leaves. The tea came out fragrant and sweet. My sister couldn’t get enough of it.

Beef Crepe (L)

The beef crepe here was phenomenal. The beef was soft and seasoned well. The rice crepe that is wrapped around the beef did not fall off. It was sticky enough so that the rice crepe and the beef stayed together. My sister said that the soy sauce could have been better. Overall one of the best beef crepes I ever had. This was one of my favorite of all the dim sum dishes we got today.

Steamed Bead Curd Skin with Pork (M)

I am not a really big fan of this dish, but the way the Triple Crown made it was really good. The ingredients inside the steamed bean curd skin was flavorful. The entire thing held really well together. A big problem with these types of dishes packed with ingredients is that it tends to fall apart if you attempt to take a bite.

Braised Chicken Feet with Black Bean Sauce (M)

I am not a fan of chicken feet. I just can’t stomach the idea of eating the skin off of chicken feet. My parents really liked it though. They said that it had really good flavor and was made really well.

Triple Crown Shrimp Dumpling (M)

I thought this was pretty good. The shrimp inside was nice and soft. The outside rice wrap was not too sticky. The dish was steamed perfectly!

Beef Tripe (S)

Tripe is made from the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach. One of those foods that your parents make you try without telling you what it is. Not a big fan of eating organs. For being an organ this is pretty tasty. Just not really my thing.

Fried Sticky Rice (L)

This is one of my favorite dishes to get when I go for dim sum, and I love how Triple Crown made it. It was so good! One of my favorite dishes today along with the beef crepe. The stick rice had the right amount of saltiness, sweetness, oiliness, and stickiness. My entire family agreed that this was exceptional.

Shrimp and Chive Dumpling (M)

Kind of looks like the Shrimp dumpling hmmm? It looks the same except that the inside is stuffed with both shrimp and chive. I thought that this was good. Nothing to rave about, but the outside rice wrap was perfect. Not too sticky.

Soy Sauce Chow Mein

Your average soy sauce chow mein. My family noted that it was less oily than most chow mein which we greatly appreciated.

Pickled Cucumbers (S)

The pickled cucumbers was a nice way to cleanse the palate before dessert. Usually eating dim sum leaves me feeling really stuffed. All that meat and carbs and fat.

Fried Water Chestnut Cake (S)

This was really good. Lightly frying it gave it a crunchy exterior. The water chest nut pieces inside gave it even more crunch. A delicious not too sweet dessert to end a dim sum meal.

The dim sum here was really good. One of the best I’ve ever had. In addition the service was attentive and quick. I counted once we finished a dish the waiter came and took the dish in 30 seconds. Our teapot was consistently filled when it was empty. The place was clean. Dim sum was consistently being rolled out on the dim sum carts.

Great dim sum. Exceptional service. Might be my new favorite dim sum place in Chinatown! Plus there’s 20% off on weekdays from 9AM-3PM for dim sum!

Stars – 5/5

Lao Hunan

Lau Hunan, a Chinese restaurant with a Communist themed dining experience along with waiters dressed in Communist uniforms and a large picture of Mao Zedong on the wall. In no way am I affiliated or support the Communist Party, but waiters dressed in Communist uniforms serving me my food? That I cannot pass up!

Lao Hunan

2230 S Wentworth Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

Check out their menu right here. http://www.tonygourmetgroup.com/pdf/LaoHuNan_menu.pdf

waiter in Communist uniform

waiter behind the counter

Lao Hunan located in Chinatown, Chicago just opened up recently. I walked past this restaurant one day and casually peered it. To my surprise the waiters were dressed in the traditional green communist uniform: shirt, pants, cross body bag, cap and all! A communist themed restaurant in the States? What is the political world coming to?

I am going to go on a tangent here about something that happened to a relative of a friend of mine. The relative and her husband were applying to immigrate to the States from China. The husband got the stamp of approval! The wife unfortunately did not. The reason was that she told the immigration officers that she supported the Communist Party. When asked why she told the immigration officers this she said that she thought that the United States was the land of free, where freedom reigns. Free? Questionably so. Tolerant of political systems different from ours? Maybe not so much. It boggles me as to why she admitted that. Perhaps all immigration officers questioning Chinese citizens wanting to immigrate to America have to ask them the question whether they support or are affiliated with the Communist Party.

Chairman Mao serving the people

Famous people from Hunan

The walls were thematically decked out with pictures of Chairman Mao “serving people” and a mural of the other famous people of the Hunan province in China. The entire dining room was very yellow/orange tinged. The extreme orange glow of the room was a little nauseating with the red and orange walls and warm tinted lights.

I just HAD to try this place out. I came here with my friends Conny and Bernard. Conny and I arrived first and ordered. After reading yelp reviews beforehand, yes we are serious foodies like that, we knew exactly what Lao Hunan was known for. We got the Chairman Mao’s Favorite Pork Belly and Famous Hunan Chili in Black Bean Sauce. Dining like the Chairman himself.

Pickled and peppery turnip

We started off with the complimentary small plate of pickled and pepper turnip as the appetizer. I really like this a lot! They serve this at the other sister restaurants of Lao Hunan (Lau Szechuan, Lau Beijing, etc.). This taste a lot like a spicy version of cole slaw. The spiciness, the crunchiness, the crispness of this dish is just great!

Famous Hunan Chili with Black Bean Sauce

The chili was delicious. Definitely different from American chili or any chili I’ve had before. It was more of a sauce than a chili. Sweet green peppers with lots of garlic and black bean. It was so flavorful! The combination of the ingredients cooked perfectly in a wok was really great! It was a little bit oily. Note the think layer of oil on the top of the dish, but that really added to the dish. The dish had two chili peppers next to it on the menu. Most of the dishes only had one chili pepper. We thought it was going to be extremely spicy, so we opted for moderate spiciness. The dish came out very weak on the spiciness level. I was expecting some heat! Some spice in my life! Next time I get this I will get with all of its spiciness! The rich taste of this dish is not something that you should miss out on.

Chairman Mao's Favorite Pork Belly

The Pork Belly was delicious! Extremely fatty, but what can you expect. It is pork belly after all! The pork belly pieces were exploding with salty, rich, sweet flavors with a slight kick of spiciness.

look at the thick film of oil

My only complaint about this heavenly dish was that it is extremely fatty. The fat from the actual pork belly pieces, and also the very thick layer of oil in the sauce. I really wanted to spoon more of the sauce onto my rice, but seeing so much oil really scared me. Overall this dish was delicious! Both of the dishes were really great!

hello Chairman Mao!

Chairman Carmen - Again I am no way affiliated with the Communist Party.

This restaurant is really fun to check out. Especially taking a look at the waiters and their uniforms. I asked to take a picture with our waiter, but he refused saying it would make the restaurant look bad if it goes up on Facebook. A great and fun dining experience. The only complaint is that the food is a little bit on the oily side, and the warm, both temperature wise and lighting wise, dining area made me feel a little sick. Other than that the food is really delicious!

Stars4/5 

Grand Palace

A Chinese restaurant with a food based atmosphere. You go here for the food, not the experience. Well that’s nothing new for a Chinese restaurant, but the food is just SO good at this new favorite hole in the wall.

Grand Palace

225 W 26th St
Chicago, IL 60616

I came here with my family. My dad has ordered me Chinese takeout from this place before. He has been raving about how great this place is when they dined here while I was away for school. Finally time to try this place out for myself!

I was originally quite skeptical of this place. It is on the outskirts of Chicago Chinatown. Not on Wentworth Street. Not in Chinatown Square. It is located right across from Ricobene’s Pizza away from the rest of the Chinese restaurants. There was a small parking lot which was good. It is always really hard to find parking in Chinatown. We walked in, and they were quite busy. It might have to do with their small dining area that makes it seem as if they are really busy. There were probably 4 big round tables and 3 small square tables in the dining area. Conny once told me that restaurants purposely make their restaurant small, so that it seems like they are always bustling. That makes a lot of sense to me. If the area is smaller people walking by would see that the place if packed and think that if it is that busy it must be really good. Well this place was packed, but for a good reason.

We walked in and was immediately seated at one of the smaller square tables. A little squished for 5 people, but we weren’t complaining. We placed our order with the waiter and waited while sipping our tea. As I watched the staff hustle and bustle around the restaurant my dad told me it was a family owned restaurant. I could tell. There was the mother who acted as the main person, seating guests, waitering, ringing people’s orders up, and everything else. She was quite the lady! Energetic, friendly, and efficient. Then who looked like the children, high school aged brother and sister, who would also help with the waitering. At first I saw the daughter, and then the daughter disappeared and the brother came in. I guess the daughter got tired, so the brother came into help. Last but not least there was also an older lady, perhaps the grandmother, who also helped with the waitering. A real family run restaurant with three generations worth of family helping out.

Fried Tofu Casserole with Seafood

Salt & Pepper Soft Shell Crab

Steamed Ground Pork with Salted Fish

Stir Fried Vegetables with Squid

Sorry about some of the half eaten plates of food. I totally forgot to take a picture until my parents reminded me. Guess I was too excited about the food!

Now onto the food! We ordered the Fried Tofu Casserole, Salt & Pepper Soft Shelled Crab, Steamed Ground Pork with Salted Fish, and Stir Fried Vegetables with Squid. All of the dishes were so delicious! They tasted really authentic and full of flavor! My favorite was the Stir Fried Vegetables with Squid. I don’t know what is the exact translation. They didn’t have this dish in their English menu, but my dad knew to order this because it is one of their specialties. Everything was really delicious! You can tell a Chinese restaurant is authentic when you see the Chinese elderly dining here. They know what is good in terms of true Chinese food, and this place was exceptional.

my sister eating an orange

They even gave us oranges at the end. YUM! Here is my sister eating an orange.

the owner of the restaurant ringing up my dad

A no frill kind of place. Come here for the good food, and you will know what I am talking about. Here is a picture I snapped of the wife of the couple who owns the restaurant. She is ringing up my dad. Our meal for my family of 5 totaled up to about $40 which is really good! We were all satisfied and delightfully filled.

Stars – 4/5