Monday, May 2, 2016

Tong's Restaurant

-Grubbing in Chicago  
Chowing down on Chinatown

Those who follow along on instagram ( @chibbqking ) may have seen me checked in at the Chinatown Food Court inside the Richland Center recently. Despite the move upstairs by Qing Xiang Yuan theres still good reason to head downstairs and eat. First and foremost is my new friend Tong. I'd always wondered what was on offer in the seldom open stall that bears his name. It just so happened he was open this past weekend and I was finally able to see what was up with it.

Inside the Chinatown Foodcourt at the Richland Center 

There is no TV screen menu like a couple of the other spots, in fact there's no printed menu either. All there was is a couple of displays with a picture as well as what it was written in Chinese. Luckily for me Tong the owner speaks pretty good English and we quickly became friends. I guess he was surprised to see a gringo stop by, as he wondered how I knew about him and his product, which was by chance of me being in the basement at the right time. He says he's open most days but not all.

The Entire Menu (Fried Breadsticks, Crepes, 1000 Year Eggs)

At first I just asked for a Crepe which I was pretty sure was an example of the popular Chinese street food called Jianbing. To my knowledge this a beloved street food thats not so much known here in the States. That needs to change. After about a ten minute wait, they're made to order, I was inhaling a wonderful aroma as I walked a paper plate with a burrito looking thing over to my table.

Jianbing in Chinatown Food Court 

According to what I read up online these savory crepes are typically made with eggs spread over the surface of the flour pancake as it cooks. Crunchy fried crackers placed inside add an interesting textural element. Lettuce, cilantro, scallions, and a sweet and spicy layer of hoisin and chili sauce round it all out. This was pretty much spot on for Tong's product which came out both gentle yet also sturdy. Jianbing is a common breakfast in China and should be way more common over here. I thoroughly enjoyed this taste of the streets that sits hidden in the bowels of the Richland Center.

A peek inside 

After contemplating another round I decided I better try a fried breadstick and let the city know Jianbing was now an eating option in Chinatown. The breadstick was basically just fried bread which at first I thought nothing of but soon realized I ate the entire thing. So I guess I liked that too. This place isn't on Yelp, or even google maps. Its basically unknown even to those who frequent the food court as I was the only one that ordered something from there when I was there. Hopefully this helps get the word out as both the food and the guy making it are things that need to be known.

Fried Breadstick 

Tong's Restaurant
2002 S Wentworth Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(630) 205-7966


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