Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chicago Eats (part 2)

It was the week of Tulips on the Magnificent Mile while we were in Chicago.  So many gorgeous tulips everywhere.  It was awesome.

Tulips on the Magnificant Mile

Now on to the eats!

Chicago deep-dish pizza was given another shot.  We went to Lou Malnati's.  While overall I definitely prefer thin-crust pizza, this was probably my favorite of our deep-dish experiences.  We went during lunch and it was a great deal -- $7 for an individual pizza, a large salad, and a soft drink.

Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza

Trying to learn from our first experience, we both got toppings.  I got my standard pepperoni and mushrooms, whereas my friend got sausage.  The sausage was weird... instead of individual little balls of sausage like we're used to, it was like, one big sausage patty under the cheese.  Oh that's the other thing about the deep-dish pizza in Chicago -- they seem to bake the cheese on the crust, and the sauce is spooned over the top.  I don't know if that's true of EVERY pizza place there, but it was for the 3 places we tried, so I figure it's a Thing.  Anyway, I enjoyed my pizza much more than I had the first time (though I still left most of the crust uneaten), and I liked the atmosphere and decor.

Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza

We met up with some friends at Goose Island Brewery.

I ordered a softshell crab BLT.  In retrospect, it seems strange that I went to the midwest to eat seafood items several times, but it was always so casually on the menu and very reasonably priced!  Anyway, the sandwich was only okay... you couldn't really taste the crab.  And the house made chips were way over-seasoned; I had to trade them in for fries instead.

Softshell Crab BLT

One of our lunches was at Pastoral, an artisan cheese shop.  They sell lots of different cheeses, bread, spreads, things like that.  They also make sandwiches and have a few tables in the shop where you can eat them.

I got the Sandwich Campagne, which was country pate, Gruyere cheese, whole grain dijon mustard, and cornichons.  It was good, but incredibly strong and filling -- I would have preferred only eating half and getting half of something else.

Sandwich Campagne

My friend got a turkey, ham, and fresh mozzarella sandwich.  It was such a mild sandwich that when she gave me some to try, after eating my sandwich I couldn't even taste hers!

Ham, Turkey, and Cheese Sandwich

The following encompasses meals from several places in Chinatown.

This first was a place called Moon Palace, which had come highly recommended by a couple of R.'s friends.  Being Chinese, however, I am already pretty picky about authenticity and there were several things about the place that gave me pause.  First, they billed themselves as a restaurant that specialized in Shanghainese and Mandarin fare.  Okay, when you combine cuisines, it's already kind of iffy.  Jack of all trades, master of none, and all that.  But on top of this, both my mom and dad's families are from Shanghai and I LOVE that cuisine, which emphasizes dumplings (meat and veggies in a thin flour wrapping then steamed, baked, and/or fried), and I knew just from seeing the menu online that this was NOT authentically Shanghainese.  When we got there, most of the patrons were not Asian -- another bad sign.  And the final bad sign was that we had to ask for chopsticks; the default place settings had forks.

However, I have to give the place its due.  Despite all the bad signs, the food was actually pretty good.  It at least tasted right.

We ordered "wo teet" -- pan-fried dumplings (like gyozas) and Shanghai-style fried noodles, which was made with flat noodles instead of round noodles and didn't have any spinach, but otherwise tasted authentic.  Neither item actually compared well to the same items you could get at a real, good Shanghainese restaurant, but like I said, they were decent.  Next time I'll have to get specific recommendations for Chinatown.

"Wo Teet" - Pan-Fried Potstickers

Shanghai Style Thick Fried Noodles

My friend also wanted some deep-fried wontons, which came crispy and hot, so they were delicious.

Deep Fried Wontons

For breakfast one day, I went to a Chinese bakery, Chiu Quon, and got three delicious items, all for under $3.  I got a Chinese egg tart, a ham and cheese stuffed roll, and a raisin twist (I only ate half of that and saved the rest for later).  All very good, very typical of Chinese bakery fare.

Display of Various Buns at Chinese Bakery

"Dan tat" - Chinese Egg Custard Tart

Raisin Bread at Chinese Bakery

Ham and Cheese Bun

Display of Cookies and Pastries at Chinese Bakery

At BBQ King House, I got the 3-item BBQ combination over rice, which also came with a small bowl of soup.  The 3 items I chose were: calamari, roasted duck, and their "Princess" chicken, which came with a lovely green onion and ginger sauce.  It was good, but the Chinese BBQ places I've been to in Southern California (like Sam Woo) are better.  It may be that I just didn't go to the right place.  Anyway, it was definitely decent.

Chinese BBQ Plate on Rice

Here is some fried butterfish from Ken Kee.  It was again good/decent, but nothing so spectacular that I haven't had the same or better in SoCal.

Fried Butterfish in Miso Sauce at Ken Kee

Haha, and here is just the bones.  It looked so like a cartoon fish that cats drag out of trashcans that I couldn't resist.

Fried Butterfish Bones at Ken Kee

I'll make one more Chicago eats post after this, which will encompass the rest of the trip. :-)

View of Chicago's Museum Campus


Sara said...

I found my way here from food_porn on LJ. It's a shame I didn't know you were coming, I could've recommended a few places to you. Having lived here for almost four years now, I can attest to the Chicago style deep dish. Any authentic Chicago pizzeria will make their deep dish inside out, so to speak. I'm not sure of the history behind it but it's one of our very distinct Chicago foods. I've never had more than one piece in a sitting because it's just so filling! I look forward to reading the third part of the series about your trip here.

Jen said...

Feel free to rec places now! I'm determined to go back and have more of the things I missed. :-)

I *thought* it might be a thing re: "inside out" pizza, but thank you for confirming!