Friday, March 9, 2018

Chinese Cafe

-Grubbing in Chicago(land)
Taiwanese on the Weekends in Westmont

With daylight savings time near it's almost the end of hibernation. Which means you're probably very hungry and have a bad case of cabin fever. Well if you're looking for something to do this weekend you can always travel for food. Crack the windows and enjoy the fact it wont be dark before 5p. Sound like a plan? Then head out Westmont. A place most people willing to travel for food have already been. It's home, or was home, to two of Chicago's best restaurants in their respective categories of cuisine. Katy's being home to amazing hand pulled noodles and dumplings and Hanbun who was making some of the best Korean food in the city formerly in the space we visit today.

Chinese Cafe in Westmont's International Mall

The International Mall might not be home to Hanbun anymore but it still has a place worth seeking out especially on the weekends. I found out about Chinese Cafe from a fellow local food enthusiast who goes by @brian_eng on both Instagram and Twitter. He's low key the most knowledgeable person in the city when it comes to our many varieties of Asian cuisine. In fact he recently started his own little site where he shares his knowledge on some of his favorite dishes in the city. It's a great place to start if looking for a 'new to you' place to eat. You can check it out HERE. It was his post from Chinese Cafe, a food stall in the International Mall, that caught my eye. One on Taiwanese food.

Taiwanese Fried Doughnut Sticks

Taiwanese food isn't all that common in Chicago but in the last few years a few spots have popped up. Chinese Cafe serves a handful of Taiwanese favorites on the weekends (Sat. & Sun.) and it attracts lots of loyal customers. One thing you'll see on pretty much every table is these long things of fried dough called Youtiao or fried crueller. They're Chinese doughnuts and holy crap they're huge. Pictured next to them up above and also below is a Taiwanese Sticky Rice Roll. A popular breakfast snack consisting of little broken off parts of doughnut, hard boiled egg, and pork floss which is dried meat that's finely chopped. Stuffed in a roll of sticky rice. Breakfast just got interesting.

Taiwanese Sticky Rice Roll

The Taiwanese options are abundant on the weekends. One Taiwanese dish that always gets my attention is a version of Taiwanese fried chicken which is an extremely popular snack in Taipei and other parts of Taiwan. It's always served similar to popcorn chicken so you're getting little nuggets of meat and at Chinese Cafe some fried onions and scallions. Sometimes you just need some nuggets.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

The main reason I rode out here was to get a taste of the Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup. Which in Taiwan is called niu ro mien. This might be Taiwan's most popular dish. Everyone there has a spot they swear by in the same way American's have a pizza place etc. It's a dish I hope to one day try in it's natural habitat but for now I gotta travel to Westmont over the weekend if I want to eat it. Sure there's a few other places in town that make this dish but none with the flavors of what you get from here. This was one mighty potent bowl of noodle soup. The broth was extremely addictive. The beef was fall apart tender and I'm told the noodles are housemade. I couldn't get over the fact this bowl of soup tasted almost like an Italian Beef from Al's. Must've been the star anise. They have a few more Taiwanese favorites I have yet to try. Hanbun is gone but a reason to visit International Mall is not.

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Chinese Cafe / Yu Ton Dumplings
665 Pasquinelli Dr
Westmont, IL 60559
(630) 323-2329

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