-Grubbing in Chicago(land)Northern Chinese taste in Naperville
In today's viral age word can get around fast. There's plenty of reasons to hate social media but there's lots to love as well. Over on Instagram the food community is one of the social media platforms biggest contributors / users. There's lots of food related stuff for one to consume on Instagram. To bad 95% of it is trash. Much of it recycled. But if you know how to use it you can find it to be helpful. You just have to find the accounts worth following (@chibbqking for me). When you do find those people you'll find yourself with alot more knowledge as far as useful information goes. I recently liked a post of a trusted person I follow that featured a picture of some jianbing. He was checked in from a spot called Tong's and at first I didn't think twice but then it hit me. Was this the same Tong's that once held a stall in the Richand Center in Chinatown? Yep! What a find. One that I'm sure would've happened regardless but without that check-in would still be unknown for now.
Newly Opened inside Super Hmart in Naperville
I first found Tong's back in the Spring of 2016. Well I didn't "find" it per se but I happened to be in the Richland Center basement when he opened. I stopped to try his offerings and eventually brought word to others in the food community that there was a new jianbing vendor in Chinatown. Jianbing being the Northern Chinese snack that's taken off like a skyrocket on America's coasts. It's since moved inland both east and west. Most major cities have at least one jianbing vendor these days while some have multiple options. Chicago has a few but none of them were as good as Tong's was. So when I saw what had to be the same guy I was very surprised and also happy that a legit source of jianbing was back. The only thing is you'll have to head out to the Super Hmart in Naperville to find him.
Jianbing at Tong's Restaurant
Aside from the fact he makes great jianbing the guy behind Tong's is really nice. He's from North of Beijing. The jianbings history can be traced back to Shandong. It then flourished in Tianjin before gaining global popularity in Beijing where it's a popular form of breakfast for those on the go. It's essentially the Northern Chinese version of crepes. Eggs and mung bean batter are the main ingredients of this savory and crispy snack. According to Wikipedia "It can be topped with different fillings and sauces such as baocui (thin and crispy fried cracker), ham, chopped or diced mustard pickles, scallions and coriander, chili sauce or hoisin sauce depending on personal preference. It is often folded several times before serving." It's not easy to make as you need the proper equipment and plenty of practice. They're also not expensive to make and thus a great way to eat for under $5.
The menu here is small. As in four items total. We tried three of them. The only thing we didn't try this trip were the Chinese crullers aka Youtiao. I had the donuts when he was in Chinatown and they're good but I never did get to try his potstickers. I'm not sure if they only come in shrimp or he only had shrimp on our visit (there was a lady making them fresh in the back) but I was glad we got them. Little whole pieces of shrimp are stuffed with some greens and eggs. They were damn good. Even better was a new menu item labeled "spicy noodles" but I'm pretty sure were Dan Dan noodles. These would be extra enjoyable for me. I've tried a few versions of Dan Dan in the States post a trip to Hong Kong where I had a wonderful bowl. This wasn't exactly like that bowl but it was the closest of all those I've tried since then. The noodles were chewy and not over boiled at all. That and the fact the heat was real (numbing but not painful) made this something I've been thinking about since I tried it. Unfortunately I wont get out to Naperville often but when I do I'll be stopping at Tong's for lunch.
Dan Dan Noodles at Tong's Restaurant
1295 E Ogden Ave
Naperville, IL 60563