Monday, November 18, 2019

Xi'an Dynasty Cuisine

-Grubbing in Chicago
Regional Chinese in Lincoln Park

When I was a kid way back in the 90's Lincoln Avenue through Lincoln Park was a hotbed for commerce. Mainly of the drinking establishment variety. It slowly started to fade with the closing of Children's Memorial Hospital and only recently has it began to re-emerge. Except it's mostly restaurants (there's still a handful of bars) that are opening up shop. Some of the restaurant openings have been quite exciting and Xi'an Dynasty Cuisine would have to qualify as one. If for anything bc it's a regional Chinese restaurant opening in an area with a few other regional Chinese options. Not sure why they're opening over here but guessing the students that flood the area are part of the reason.

Newly Opened in Lincoln Park

On my visits to Xi'an Dynasty Cuisine the clientele has been at least 80% Chinese. Mostly younger folks whether in groups of friends or families. There's a few different Chinese social media sites popular with the American-Chinese community and word of mouth and chit chat on restaurants is one of the big deals on these platforms. So it's no surprise to see the Chinatown crowd is coming into Lincoln Park to eat here. I'm not sure I can remember a restaurant where opinions differed on so much. Before I ever had the chance to stop by there were a number of people I knew who didn't like it, plus quite a few who did like it. So I wasn't sure what to expect but I've been by three times now and have had success on two of my visits. One trip in I got a trio of the "street food" options. I call it street food bc all three items (Jianbing, Pork Burger, Beef Pancake) are popular street food favorites in Xi'an China. I didn't have much luck with any of the three and I think the beef bun has since been removed from the menu. The Jianbing was missing the cracker inside. Not sure if this was a mistake or how they eat Jianbing in Xi'an but for me the cracker and the texture it brings is a big part of what makes jianbing good. The pork bun was a little dry. Some sauce and it would've been much better.

Street Food Favorites from Xi'an Dynasty Cuisine

I've had much better luck with the soups. The first of which was the Hot and Sour Dumpling soup. This was actually the first item I ever tried there and I really liked the sour soup base and the delicate wonton floating in the broth. I asked the young guys working and they told me the pork wonton are homemade. I know some others who thought this was just ok but it all worked well together for me.

Hot and Sour Wonton Soup at Xi'an Dynasty Cuisine

My most recent visit came just the other day. All signs pointed to the Paomo soup being the stand out. Paomo is a specialty soup native to Shaanxi cuisine. It's eaten all over Xi'an where each spot has it's own little take. The basis of this dish is lamb bone broth with chopped up meat and diced leavened bread (known regionally as mo). Xi'an Dynasty doesn't have lamb on the menu so their Paomo is made from beef bone broth and comes with sliced brisket and the bread already served in the soup along with cellophane noodles. Even though this was my first go with Paomo I found the flavor profile very comforting. I think most Midwestern raised people would. Heck anyone that grew up in an area that can get cold knows the comforting effect some beef stew on a cold day can have. One of my favorite parts of a beef stew we ate as kids was the French bread served on the side and used to mop up all the wonderful broth. This soup had those same things going for it. The brisket could've been a tad more tender but it came apart just fine with a little pressure from the spoon. A small tray of spicy chile sauce and roasted garlic comes on the side. The sauce def takes the soup up a notch.

Beef Paomo Soup at Xi'an Dynasty Cuisine

Xi'an Dynasty Cuisine
2218 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 904-7253

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