Authentic ingredients for Chinatown 'fast food'

September 22, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Holdouts from the 1960s continue to serve up egg foo young and chow main, but the majority of new restaurants near Cermak and Wentworth are run by second generation Chinese Americans, who have set up two new diners in the Hong Kong-style.

At Sweet Station, the menu is vast and decidedly pan-Asian. Head-on shrimp is wok-tossed with garlic and jalapenos for a nice kick; meantime, the hand-shredded, poached chicken could be one of the best dishes to come out of Chinatown in recent years. Meat is incredibly tender, and comes with an assertive five-spice pepper sauce for dipping. Lotus leaves contain savory packages of Chinese sausage, chicken and preserved egg, while several dishes can be topped with either curry or tumeric-colored Portuguese sauces, like this giant pork chop over rice

"We use the curry, it come from Hong Kong. A regional ship from Hong Kong. That's why we use like we do like all the regional like Hong Kong-style. Because our chef is, we, all the material is shipped from Hong Kong," said Kevin Wu, owner of Sweet Station.

Just a few yards away, the comically-named Tasty City also expands on the concept of an Asian milk tea bar, and adds a number of Western touches.

"And Hong Kong-style cafe starts with when British took over Hong Kong. And it used to be a high-end, high-class kind of service, for British only," said Dan Fung, owner of Tasty City.

But the Chinese have adapted those dishes, and made them their own. A beef hot pot contains loads of veggies, swimming in a soy-based broth. Mango shrimp rolls are a Chicago creation, utilizing won ton wrappers and a bit of Japanese mayo inside. Ramen noodles are toothsome, flecked with sweet corn and scallions and the drink selection is varied, including bubble teas and freezes. Fung says these Hong Kong-style cafes are an answer to American fast food, but with an eye on using authentic Chinese ingredients.

"It's very similar - when we see the Chinese food in the states, when I first came here, it's, I gotta say they were Americanized. It fits the taste of American people, what they want to have. But lately, people are changing, and they are more accepting to the original flavors and taste from Chinese food that is actually from overseas," Fung said.

Tasty City
2022 S. Archer Ave.

Sweet Station
2101 S. China Place

also mentioned:

Chi Cafe
2160A S.Archer Ave.

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