Bridgeport restaurant specializes in Chinese dumplings

February 12, 2010 8:52:17 PM PST
The Chinese New Year begins Sunday, and since deciphering a Chinese menu can be a challenge, food reporter Steve Dolinsky tends to seek the advice of an expert.As he continues his monthly series, "My Country, My Cuisine," Dolinsky turns to a friend from northern China. The two met recently in a Bridgeport restaurant known for its dumplings.

Dolinsky's friend, Wen Huang, grew up in Xian in northern China. Yet, when he longs for a taste of home, he heads to Ed's Potsticker House in Bridgeport.

The main reason this time of year? The dumplings.

"On New Years Eve, all the family members get together, and you make the dough, and then, you make the dumplings together," said Huang. "Biggest difference is we don't eat a lot of rice. Our staple food is wheat."

The pair began with breakfast.

"So, things like this dough, I've never seen before. What is that called?" Dolinsky asked.

"It's called 'youtiao,' and it's basically a breakfast food. When I was a little kid and I would behave myself and help my mom with chores, I would get a big puffy youtiao and a bowl of soy milk. It's kind of a luxury breakfast. What we do, is we dip this in the soy milk, it softens up and then eat," Huang said.

Huang also says there are two types of dumplings he favors.

"This type of dumpling is boiled dumpling. It's a northern specialty. It's especially popular during the winter time. It's in the shape of ears, it's supposed to, if you eat this dumplings, it will prevent frost bite," he said.

There is also the steamed soup dumpling, called 'xiao lun bao.'

"The way you eat this dumpling is very unique because first you take the dumpling and bite the head off and then you suck the soup out of it. And then you dip it in vinegar and then you eat those dumplings," said Huang.

Dinner brings two noodle dishes: Chairman Mao's pork, jammed with thick noodles and seasoned with five-spice, plus a cabbage and porkball soup, stuffed with clear, cellophane noodles.

Wen Huang says slurping is encouraged.

"Yes, it's considered very good table manners if you slurp on the noodles," said Huang.

"So very important. How do you say '"this is delicious?" Dolinsky asked.

"Haochi," Huang said.

"Well Wen, thanks so much. This has really been educational. And I want to impress you with my Mandarin. I'm going to wish you Happy New Year, Happy Chinese New Year. Gong hay Fachoy!"

"Hey, that's Cantonese and in Northern part of China we say 'xin nian yu' and 'kuai,'" Huang said.

"Exactly. Well, same to you. And thanks so much," Dolinsky said.

The annual Chinese New Year parade steps off on Sunday in Chinatown at 1 p.m. There's also going to be an additional parade this year on February 20th in Uptown, along Argyle Street.

Ed's Potsticker House 3139 S. Halsted 312-326-6898