Monday, January 6, 2020

Lao Peng You

-Grubbing in Chicago
Noodles and Dumplings in Ukrainian Village 

Chicago is finally starting to see the next wave of Asian restaurants that will shape the city. Most of these spots are being opened by the children of immigrants many of whom grew up in their parents and grandparents kitchens both public and private. This is reflective of both NYC and LA some five to ten years ago. The sky is the limit as far as what the city and it's hungry diners will embrace. These openings tend to attract people from all over with a special knack for social media that their parents didn't have access to. So it's not surprising to find a place like Lao Peng You in Ukrainian Village.

Newly Opened in Ukrainian Village

Lao Peng You means "old friend" and you can say that the food being served here is an old friend of the two brothers who run the place. They're making the recipes their grandma made for them. Both noodles and dumplings are the focus of a small but well curated menu. The dough for both noodles and dumplings is made fresh daily. The brothers learned this from their grandma and are combining that knowledge with what they learned from working in different Chicago kitchens this last decade. I visited opening week so there were a few kinks being worked out but none of them need to be mentioned bc they've had plenty of time to get everything straight. The restaurant which sits across the street from Mariano's on Chicago avenue is small. So you may find yourself waiting for a table especially if there's more than two of you. There's only two tables for groups larger than three.

Beef and Green Onion Dumplings in Spicy Sour Soup at Lao Peng You

I'm happy to report the dumplings are very good. I really enjoyed them anyway. Maybe partly bc it's just nice being able to get handmade dumplings this far from the suburbs and or Chinatown. The brothers didn't want to open around Chinatown for fear of stepping on what others are already doing. But the truth is Chicago sorely lacks dumpling specialists and places like NYC prove you can never have enough dumpling options. I'm a big fan of beef dumplings when done right and I think they nailed them here. They had just the right amount of green onion which goes great with beef and the wrappers were really smooth and just right in terms of thickness. The soup itself was a nice compliment to the dumplings and when slurped together they were basically soup dumplings.

Xi'an Bing (lamb cumin bread)

We also tried an order of the cumin lamb bread which they call Xi'an Bing. The menu here leans toward Northern Chinese flavors but this dish has roots in Xi'an. Lao Peng You's lamb and bread baked snack was a little different from the "burgers" served at other Xi'an specialty spots in that the lamb was cooked into the bread. It wasn't a pocket per se. Interesting. I had high hopes for the beef noodle soup and they weren't quite reached. Again I'm not complaining in that where else can you get beef noodle soup made with hand stretched noodles on the Northside? My biggest complaint was there just wasn't much beef. What was there was nice and tender however. The house noodles lost some of their chew over time as they always do. A little deeper beef flavor from the broth was needed. Basically what I'm saying is I liked the dumplings more than the noodles. That said I will be back for both of them at some point. Sometimes you just don't want to schlep 30 mins to Chinatown.

Beef Noodle Soup at Lao Peng You

Lao Peng You
2020 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(872) 206-8624


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