Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Best of 2018

- Memorable Bites from the past Calendar Year

It's time for my annual year end 'Best of...' list. The post in which I list my favorite bites of the year. But first I'd like to reflect on 2018. Personally it was probably the best eating year of my life. This will happen when you travel more than you ever have during said span. As far as Chicago the city goes I thought it was a pretty great year for food. Truth is I most always do. Sure some years are better than others but there's only so many cities in the States where the restaurant openings outweigh the number of days in a year. For all we know the best place to open in 2018 has yet to be covered. Which leads me to the hot topic that took over the Chicago food worlds conversations this past month. Without getting too into it, unlike the New Yorkers who had all sorts of opinions on it, I thought it was a good way to get the conversation going. The conversation being something other than recent restaurant openings. I don't think it was a bad thing that Mr. Kessler's article had people talking about the racist real estate practices in this city. Was it racist of him to say Chicago's segregation is part of the problem in why it's not as welcoming a food city as other spots? I think not. It's worth addressing.

The Best of 2018

That said I didn't understand the comment on immigrant enclaves being boring. I think we can all agree that it's fun when a new restaurant opens up and it's a big time hit with it's food. But there's something to be said about the fact the city has so many spots that are going on decade plus runs of business. I love seeing new spots open up but not necessarily at the cost of old ones closing even if I wasn't a fan of the spot that's closing. Restaurants are hard work. So much so it seems that most spots these days without alcohol are immigrant owned and that's bc of the hard work they bring. They became a way to better the lives of their children so they didn't have to spend 12 hours a day in the kitchen. I don't think it was Kessler's intent to make it seem like he was entitled to food which he considered exciting. To me it was him wondering when the next wave of spots is coming and part of the answer to that question is featured below in the best bites in Chicago from 2018. There's much more to come in 2019 bc as always the only eligible spots are those which I got a chance to post about. While I loved all bowls of soup in Asia I try to list just one dish for each category and trip.
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Best of Chicago


Pica Pollo at Morena's Kitchen 

Chicken Katsu Plate Lunch at Aloha Wagon 

Venezuelan Empanadas at Rica Arepa

Chips and Queso at Lonesome Rose 

Vietnamese Chicken Salad at Ca Phe Da  

Wood Roasted Pita at Pacific Standard Time

Afghan Grilled Meats at Kabul Kabab

Filet Mignon Tlacoyo at Xocome Antojeria

Potato Burek at Astoria Cafe

Ddukbokki Lamb Ragu at Passerotto

Pork Chop ”Chourcroute" at Funkenhausen  


Pica Pollo at Morena's Kitchen (Chicago)
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 Best of Beyond Chicago


Whole Fried Local Fish at Summer Luxury Resort (Koh Phangan)

Bánh Cuốn at Bánh Cuốn Gia Truyền (Hanoi)

Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork) at Hieu Hien BBQ (Hoi An)

Khao Kha Moo at The Cowboy Hat Lady (Chiang Mai)

Isaan Fried Chicken (and dip) at Polo Fried Chicken (Bangkok)

Crostini with Truffled Sausage at Le Volpi e l'Uva (Florence)

Sausage Pizza at Trieste (Rome)

Fried Halibut and Fries at Brigham Fish Market (Cascade Locks, OR)

Pork Chop over Rice at For Kee (Hong Kong)

Griot at Agrikol (Montreal) 

Albondigas at La Dominicaine - Café Traiteur (Quebec City) 


Crostini with Truffled Sausage at Le Volpi e l'Uva (Florence)
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Best Soups


Pozole at Grill 47 (Chicago) 

Bun Ca at Bun Ca Sam Cay Si (Hanoi)

Mi Quang Noodle Soup at Random Street Vendor (Hoi An)

Khaotom Moo Yat Sai at Koay Chup Restaurant (Chiang Mai)

Seafood Tom Yum at Raan Yaam Jae-Euang (Bangkok)
 
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup at Chinese Cafe (Westmont, IL)

Yak Noodle Soup from A Bu Noodles (Beijing)

Wonton Noodle Soup at Mak's (Hong Kong)

French Onion Soup at L'Oncle Antoine (Quebec City)


Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup at Chinese Cafe (Westmont, IL)
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Best Noodles and Pastas


Pho Chien Phong at Pho Cuon 31 (Hanoi)

Cao Lau at Cao Lau Thanh (Hoi An)

Thai Style Suki (dry) at Suki Koka (Chiang Mai)

Kuay Teow Kua Gai in Kua Gai Alley (Bangkok)

Pasta Alla Gricia at La Tavernaccia (Rome)

 Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu at Trattoria Giovanni (Florence)

Gnocchi Night at Nostrano (Portland, OR)

Wanza Mian at Pang Mei Noodles (Beijing)

Curry Tendon at Kau Kee (Hong Kong) 


Wanza Mian at Pang Mei Noodles (Beijing)
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Best Dumplings


Dumplings at the Led'Tawan Market (Chiang Mai)

Wonton at Mung Korn Khao (Bangkok)

Kimchi Mandu at Bukchon Sonmandu (Seoul)

Pyzy at Little Polish Diner (Parma, OH)

Potstickers at Country Kitchen (Beijing)

King Mandu at Passerotto (Chicago) 

Sheng Jian Bao at Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-Fried Buns (Hong Kong) 


Sheng Jian Bao at Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-Fried Buns (Hong Kong)
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Best Tacos


Lengua at Tata's Tacos (Chicago)

The Lalo Taco at Tacotlan (Chicago)

Jerk Chicken Tacos at Yamon Jerk Grill (Chicago)

Cecina Taco at El Chubasco (Chicago)

Salvadoran Taquitos at Papuseria Metapan (Chicago) 

Tacos de Canasta at Taqueria Belen (Chicago) 


Jerk Chicken Tacos at Yamon Jerk Grill (Chicago)
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Best Sandwiches


Banh Mi at Madam Khanh's (Hoi An)

Gyro Grilled Cheese at Garfield Gyros (Chicago)

Pork Sirloin Torta Sandwich at RC's Grill (Melrose Park, IL)

Roast Beef Sandwich at Da Nerbone (Florence)

Lampredotto Sandwich at Sergio Pollini Lampredotto (Florence)

'Banh a Mia' Sandwich at Tempesta Market (Chicago)

Bulgogi Hoagie at Broadway Cafe (Ann Arbor) 

Fried Chicken Sandwich at Fry the Coop (Oak Lawn, IL)

Build Your Own Biscuit Sandwich at Smack Dab (Chicago) 

The Wilensky Special at Wilensky's Light Lunch (Montreal) 

Smoked Meat Sandwich at Snowdon Deli (Montreal) 


Banh Mi at Madam Khanh's (Hoi An)
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Best Burgers


Cheeseburger at Ring's Bar (Plain, WI) 

Cheeseburger at Ridott Corners Tavern (Ridott Corners, IL)

Create your own Burger at Blimpy Burger (Ann Arbor)

Classic Cheeseburger at Goldyburgers (Forest Park, IL)

Cheeseburger at Frunchroom (Chicago)


Cheeseburger at Ridott Corners Tavern (Ridott Corners, IL)
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Best Sweets


Coconut Ice Cream and Sticky Rice on the Street (Hanoi)

Mango Smoothies all across Thailand 

Hungarian Strudels at Lydia's Bakery (Parma Heights, OH)

Pear Gelato at Gelateria Della Passera (Florence)

Italian Ice at Ava's Italian Ice (Chicago)

Popsicles at Pretty Cool Ice Cream (Chicago)

Hawaiian Shave Ice at Wailua Shave Ice (Portland, OR)

SnowBalls at Ina Mae Tavern (Chicago)

Strawberry Kakigori at Shari Shari Kakigori (Hong Kong)

Orange Julep at Gibeau Orange Julep (Montreal) 


Hawaiian Shave Ice at Wailua Shave Ice (Portland, OR)
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Best Meals


Cha Ca Dinner at Chả Cá Thăng Long (Hanoi)

Indian Feast at Ganesh Indian Restaurant (Hoi An)

Lanna Spread at Midnight Sticky Rice (Chiang Mai)

Home Cooked Thai Dinner at Baan Nual (Bangkok)

Burmese/Malaysian Feast at The Family House (Chicago)

Dinner at Osteria del Cavaliere (Rome)

Dinner at Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori (Florence) 

Dinner at S.K.Y (Chicago)

Chengdu Feast at A Place by Damao (Chicago)

Dinner at Proxi (Chicago)

Dinner at Han Oak (Portland, OR)

Korean BBQ at Maple Tree Barbecue (Seoul)

Peking Duck Dinner at Siji Minfu (Beijing)

Dinner at The Chairman (Hong Kong) 

Dinner at Joe Beef (Montreal) 

Dinner at La Buvette Scott (Quebec City)


Lanna Spread at Midnight Sticky Rice (Chiang Mai)
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See ya next year @chibbqking 

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