Tag Archives: chicago

Best Things I ate in Chicago, 2012-2013

17 Jun

All the 5/5 dishes I would return for, dishes I could not think of how to improve without changing some essential characteristic, listed under PERFECTION. HONORABLE MENTIONS indicate dishes I liked very much.

Randolph Street/West

PERFECTION

  1. Avec (2013) – wood-fired squid amatriciana
  2. Avec (2013) – any roasted fish dish by Avec
  3. Avec (2013) – spring spumoni (ice-cream cake)
  4. Avec (2013) – chocolate-bergamot sorbet
  5. Blackbird (2013) – goat cheese cheesecake (cajeta ice cream, burnt grapefruit, avocado)
  6. Blackbird (2013) – roasted peanut ice cream (carrot-barley sponge, honey mousse, pickled carrot, opal basil)
  7. Blackbird (2012) – “Blueberry Buttermilk Affogato with Blackberries and Cinnamon Basil (5/5) – Fantastic buttermilk biscuits, with blueberry sorbet and cinnamon basil ice cream. Drowned in blueberry sauce.”
  8. Girl and the Goat (2012) – raw shigoku oyster
  9. Girl and the Goat (2012) – sweet corn and peaches
  10. Prasino (2012) – creme brulee french toast/ pretzel croissant french toast (white chocolate sauce with salt, over french-toasted croissants)
  11. Ruxbin (2012) – octopus.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • 90 Miles Cuban Cafe – Cascos de Guayaba (cream cheese sandwiching guava slices)
  • 90 Miles Cuban Cafe – a hearty ropa vieja
  • Antique Taco – Steak taco
  • Avec – any seafood, it’s their specialty
  • Blackbird (2013) – roasted rhubarb (cardamom danish, whipped delice, green almond, anise hyssop)
  • Blackbird – any dessert, desserts are their specialty
  • Girl and the Goat (2012) – Goat Ribs
  • Girl and the Goat (2012) – Pig Face
  • Girl and the Goat (2012) – Chocolate Magic Shell
  • The Publican (2012) – Thick-cut Publican Bacon

The Loop

PERFECTION:

  1. Frontera Grill – Chilaquiles (Saturday brunch)
  2. Fronter Grill (2012) – Tropical Tuna Cocktail (ceviche)
  3. XOCO (2013) – Aztec Hot Chocolate
  4. XOCO (2012) – Ice Mint Chocolate
  5. XOCO (2012) – Chicharrones

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • Frontera Grill (2012) – Yucatan Ceviche
  • Frontera Grill (2012) – Smoky-Creamy-Spicy Mushrooms (4.75/5)
  • Frontera Grill (2012) – Lamb Shoulder in Black Mole (4.5/5)
  • Frontera Grill – Rick Bayless’s Granola Mix
  • XOCO (2013) – Churros
  • XOCO (2012) – Carnitas Caldo
  • XOCO (2012) – Authentic Hot Chocolate
  • Yolk – Croque Madame

Northern Parts

PERFECTION:

  1. Ada Street (2012) – Octopus
  2. >>>DEFUNCT<<< Charlie Trotter’s (2012) – “Baconator” – One of the breads was incredibly delicious. It was a crispy bread drizzled with maple syrup on the outside, and had tender bacon cuboid strips on the inside. I dub it the “Baconator”.
  3. >>>DEFUNCT<<< Charlie Trotter’s (2012) – Thyme-Glazed Brioche with Georgia Blueberry Compote & Lavender-Blueberry Sorbet
  4. Hanbat (2012) – Kimchi, which is free-flow. They do a wonderful kimchi.
  5. M Henry (2012) – Out of this world bread pudding (Sunday Brunch-only)

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  •  Ada Street (2012) – Salty chocolate

South

PERFECTION:

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  1. Lao Sze Chuan (2012) – Spicy pig ear
  2. Taco Palacio (hole in the wall)
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Lao Sze Chuan | Chicago

2 Jul

2172 S Archer Ave

(between Wentworth Ave & 21st St)
Chicago, IL 60616
Neighborhood: Chinatown
(312) 326-5040 | Menu

Lao Sze Chuan is possibly one of the best Chinese restaurants I’ve had the pleasure of dining in in the last year.

In my time eating in American restaurants, I rarely encountered offal meats – the internal organs, and discarded parts of the butchered animal. According toe Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offal#United_States) the American South uses more offal. Rocky Mountain oysters (or bull testicles), are also a delicacy in Western US. It’s much more common in Chinese cooking.

Seeing “Pig Ear Szechuan Style” (4.75/5) (dish A02) warmed my heart. Offal bodes well for the authenticity of a Chinese restaurant (maybe non-Cantonese). Tender cartilage in spicy red oil. Wonderful crunch of harder cartilage bits.

Mapo Tofu (4/5) (dish 609) was very spicy. Pairs well with rice.

The only bum note for me was Chili Eggplant (2/5) (dish 633). It was an odd mix of sour and spicy, that left a persistent sour taste in my mouth after eating a slice or two.

For dessert, black rice congee (4.25/5) (dish 901) has lotus seeds (those crunchy white kernels called baiguo), black rice in a cloyingly sweet soup. Recommended. In Singapore we have a very close descendant, pulot hitam – which you get when you add a lot of coconut milk.

Lao Sze Chuan is a great addition to Chinese food in America. Even in New York City, I haven’t had this type of Chinese food. Head there if you’re in Chicago!