Friday, February 20, 2015

Suburban Noodle Nosh

-Grubbing in Chicago (land)
Asian Noodles on the Outskirts of the City

When you love food as much as someone like myself does you can imagine the craves that can come for certain ones you love. One of my go-to comfort foods is anything involving noodles. I love them and can be satisfied whether it's a bowl of stepped up instant ramen or a plate of chow mein from the local old school neighborhood Chinese restaurant. So they're something I seek out and of course when I do pursue them I want more than what I previously described. I want something that I wouldn't be able to easily recreate and thus sometimes when the craves come it's the burbs or bust. It's been mentioned countless times on here how the big city suburbs are fast becoming the place for international eats. Chicago remains in transition and today I'll showcase five places I've tried in the last year, some more times than others, though all enjoyed at least once. Hope you enjoy the ride.

Jia Jia Cafe

Naperville, IL

I came upon this place by pure luck this winter. One day while tending to some business in the Western suburbs I decided to stop in at the Super H-Mart in Naperville and grab some stuff to cook with that week. Upon entering I saw a sign leading people to the food court and decided to go check it out. Score. I was rewarded with one of the best bowls of soups I've slurped this winter.

Beef Noodle Soup

Taiwanese Beef Noodle soup should be as well know as ramen. It may even be the next big food trend. But for the time being we Chicagoans have to make the trek out to da burbs for the best. Now there's now a second place I would recommend this dish aside from Katy's. Jia Jia Cafe's beef noodle soup recipe goes back 30 years with it's chef and that's most notable in the deep beef broth. It's spicy and highly addictive. The beef is tender to where it falls apart easily when poked with a spoon. The noodles are the weak link. I don't think they're homemade and they aren't as memorable as Katy's but this was still an exceptional bowl of soup and a great snack before shopping next door.

Killer of Winter Blues

Asian Noodle House

Hoffman Estates, IL

Here's a spot I went to a while back, over a year ago. Why haven't I been back? I just haven't been out that way or if I was I didn't remember to stop back into this generically named gem sitting in a typical suburban strip mall. I was originally put onto the menu by Mike Sula who did a piece on it for the Reader. In it he mentions a few Malaysian dishes which they make and one of them is this popular stir-fried noodle dish. Char Kuay Teow Mae is typically made with flat rice noodles that get a nice char in the wok along with shrimp, soy sauce, sprouts, green onion, eggs and chili sauce. It's a comfort dish and due to Chicago's lack of Malaysian, one of the only places to try it is here.

Char Kuay Teow Mae

Noodles Delight

Roselle, IL

I'm a sucker for a fantastic rendition of beef chow fun but finding a good one is almost as hard as finding the final resting spot of Jimmy Hoffa. However this popular Chinese restaurant sitting in a strip mall has given new hope to finding the body. I've found that some places can do certain aspects really well while miserably failing to do other important steps in maintaining maximum flavor. No gravy for me please and the beef needs to be tender and give zero resistance. The noodles should be well browned and have a smokey flavor from the hot wok. The more green onion the merrier. Noodles Delight seems to accomplish all of that. We have a new BCF Champ.

Beef Chow Fun

Yu's Mandarin 

Schaumburg, IL 

This place has been putting on noodle shows (Fri. and Sat. nights) for a long time now. Suburban families will flood the place on weekends when the staff is rolling out noodles made by hand to order. According to a story the Hungry Hound did on this place the noodles are considered lucky since they're made on-site everyday. With Chinese New Year around the corner you can expect Yu's to be packed when it hits. Diners have the option to try the house noodles in a stir fry or also the popular Ja Jeng Mien dish which covers the noodles in a soybean paste made from pork, onion and zucchini.

Ja Jeng Mien

I tried this last winter on a frigid cold day and it really hit the spot. Like bi bim bop and other popular story fry dishes it's best when mixed together so you get a little bit of everything in each bite. The chewy noodles would soak up the black bean sauce giving you a taste of the sauce in each bite.

Mandarin Cooking

Chef Ping 

Rolling Meadows, IL

Here we have one of my favorite restaurants in the suburbs. I've been in love with this place since the first time I tried it after trekking out with a buddy to try the famous Ping's Chicken Wings. As good as those wings are (expect a full report sometime in the future) the noodles we ordered with them stole the show. Handmade and cooked to the perfect consistency to give them a little chew they come loaded with thin strips of pork, shrimp, scallops, squid, vegetables, chili peppers. One of the best deals in the city will get you change back from a $10. I've been running back for five years now.

Ping's Noodle Platter 

Jia Jia Cafe
1291 E Ogden Ave
Naperville, IL 60563
(630) 857-3831

Asian Noodles House
844 N Roselle Rd
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
(847) 882-9650

Noodles Delight
853 E Nerge Rd
Roselle, IL 60172
(630) 307-1010

Yu's Mandarin 
200 E Golf Rd
Schaumburg, IL 60173
(847) 882-5340

Chef Ping 
1755 W Algonquin Rd
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
(847) 981-8888


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