Northern City Chinese: Focus on flavors of northern region

January 9, 2013 11:51:50 AM PST
Most of Chicago's Chinese restaurants feature the recipes and ingredients from southern Chinese provinces, and most of them are in Chinatown.

However, there's a new restaurant focusing on the lesser-known, northern regions of China, and this restaurant is located on a busy stretch in the Bridgeport area.

The ingredients and condiments all look familiar. There are steamed and boiled dumplings, as well as lots of stir-fried dishes and hearty soups. But calling the food at Bridgeport's Northern City just Chinese, isn't completely accurate. That's because the food here is influenced by the Northern reaches of China, which means less rice, more wheat flour.

"Very important because the Northern, we use wheat flour mixed in our homemade restaurant, and we mix that and use the machine and hand make the noodle," said Meichun Chen of Northern City Chinese.

Yes, homemade noodles are one of the stars on the menu. They're first boiled with some vegetables, then, in a blazing hot wok with a base of garlic, ginger and scallion, the briefly-cooked noodles and vegetables are tossed in, along with soy and a bit of sugar.

Wheat flour shows up in a few pan-fried pancakes, as well. They can either come plain, or stuffed with proteins like cooked pork and scallions.

Dumplings are a big deal in the North, and at Northern City, they're made by hand all day long. The Shanghai-style xiao long bao, or soup dumpling - so named due to the juiciness inside - is also prevalent in lots of steamer baskets.

"We use beef potsticker and dumpling we use pork dumpling, too," said Chen.

But one of the most intriguing - and deliciously hot dishes from the Northern repertoire - is the stir-fried lamb with cumin and a handful of hot chilies. The aroma is powerful, a result of lots of cumin.

"Lamb, we use leg bone, and we have cumin see. They cook it spicy and cumin flavor, cumin seed and red pepper and fresh green pepper," Chen said.

The great thing about this food is it's a lot heartier; perfect for this time of year. One of the things that really typifies the Northern style, however, are the pork-filled, flour-based scallion pancakes.

Northern City Chinese
742 W. 31st St.