Monday, October 7, 2019

Szechwan JMC

-Grubbing in Chinatown 
Sichuan Food on Cermak

I go through major craves for Chinese food. Don't get me wrong as one of my five favorite cuisines I could eat it whenever and be happy. But there are times when pretty much only a visit to Chinatown will do. Maybe Bridgeport too but that's another story. Today's stop is on the restaurant row of Cermak not far from the new hotel that went up a few years ago. Of late Szechwan JMC has been called on to help cure those killer craves I just mentioned. They've been open for over a year now and in that time have developed a nice loyal following consisting of many younger Chinatown locals.

Locals Favorite in Chinatown 

As the name suggests Sichuan food is the name of the game here. Not all that surprising as the spicy recipes of the Southwest Chinese province have become norm anywhere there's a large Chinese community. It's the forerunner in regional Chinese food in America from the mainland of China. Chicago has long had a pretty strong Sichuan food scene due to the likes of Tony Hu's Lao Sze Chuan. Well for a while it was the only spot in town but now there are double digit options as far as how many Sichuan restaurants there are in the city. My first visit to JMC came shortly after returning from China last year. I didn't want to stop eating noodles even after a week over there. I'd read good things about the Dan Dan noodles here from different online sources like Yelp and LTHforum among others. Well the noodles were nothing like I was hoping for and there wasn't much spice involved. Not to say they were bad but they just weren't close to what I was looking for.

Dan Dan Noodles at Szechwan JMC

Maybe six months later I made the return for a takeout Dry Chili Fish Filet late one night right before closing. It was really good. Not as good as New China Station's which is still the best anywhere but good enough to come in second. So I went back with a friend when he suggested we meet for food in Chinatown. That meal was awesome so I've now been back two times since then and I've had all hits be it on various levels. The cold noodles which come laying atop a puddle of chile oil with some sliced cucumbers on top are a great way to start the meal by getting on base. I think they're the same noodles used in the Dan Dan but they seem to work better with this. These are great for takeout.

Spicy Cold Noodles

Dry Chili Chicken is a menu item you'll find at every Sichuan spot in town and abound. Szechwan JMC makes a good version. Though part of it's greatness is in the presentation. Little morsels of fried chicken are hidden among dry chiles like a Rolex watch in a ball pit. They throw in crinkle cut fries which also take up some nice spice from Sichuan peppercorns and dry chiles. It's a good version of this popular dish but you need 3 or 4 people to order it as it's better as an appetizer than as a meal.

Chongqing Popcorn Chicken at Szechwan JMC

The sleeper hit thus far has been the Chefs Special Stir Fried Pork. I got turned onto this dish by a poster over at LTHforum who mentioned it as his favorite bite from a recent meal there. It's not listed under the chefs specials but you'll see it on the larger pictured menu they hand you when you sit down. It's thinly sliced pieces of stir fried pork with halved peppers of some sort. They were almost like New Mexico green chiles in that some were hotter than others. It packed some pretty decent heat and at the bottom of the bowl is a puddle of dark liquid that was full of umami. It was perfect soaked up in the rice. I very much liked this dish. In fact it's one of my tops from Chinatown this year.

Chef Special Stir Fried Pork

Another common dish you'll find on the menus at the city's Sichuan spots is stir fried lamb. It's made differently from spot to spot but always includes thinly shaved pieces of lamb seasoned with cumin stir fried with onions among other vegetables. JMC makes theirs with a bunch of chopped cilantro both leaves and stems. It adds a nice texture and also taste. Another dish that pairs great with rice.

Stir Fried Cumin Lamb at Szechwan JMC

My current go to at Sichuan spots is the spicy boiled fish. I'm not big on hot pot so this is about as close to it as I like. It too can vary from spot to spot as far as whats inside the big bowl of spicy steaming liquid with chopped up pieces of fish. JMC puts a ton of stuff in theirs to the point where it's hard to eat. They had little bean thread noodles as well as a shit ton of dry chilis and peppercorns. It's a bit of a chore eating around all of that but the fish and some broth over a bowl of white rice is a great way to get the head steaming if you like that sort of thing. I plan on further exploring the menu as there's no doubt some other hits hidden within. I read good things about the crispy lamb ribs but they haven't had them on my visits since learning of them. If you have some ordering tips send them over.

Spicy Boiled Fish at Szechwan JMC

Szechwan JMC
243 W Cermak Rd
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 929-2212

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We went with a Chinese friend who suggested we have a classic dish that was pork and peppers, one of the ones he said his family friends would make constantly and on which he grew up. Maybe it's the chef special you had? We also had the sliced potatoes and they were great. Like the french fries at A Place by Damao but thinly sliced fresh fried potatoes with addictive seasoning.


Related Posts with Thumbnails