25 January 2010


Andrew and I took an amazing trip to Chicago last weekend to visit our friend Dan.  We spent the weekend with Dan, his super nice roommate Phil, and Phil's awesome girlfriend Jess, and were sometimes joined by Dan and Phil's friend Brian.  I had never been to Chicago, and I loved the experience - we walked everywhere, drank way too much, and of course, ate our faces off.

I've got a lot of food to show you, so settle in.  :)

We landed at O'Hare at 8:30 on Friday night.  We headed for dinner at Penny's Noodle Shop around 10 pm - we are lots of late dinners that weekend, which suits us perfectly.  Six of us ate together, but we apparently aren't very creative - we only ended up trying three menu items, as some of us ordered the same things as one another.

Jess and I had the Pad Thai, which was delicious.

Phil opted for the Thai Ravioli - homemade shrimp and pork dumplings - which looked amazing.

Dan, Andrew, and Brian all ordered the Sliced Beef, a noodle dish with soy, peanuts, and veggies.

Saturday night, the six of us who had dinner together on Friday night again got together to eat Peking duck at Sun Wah Bar-B-Que.  Sun-Wah doesn't have a website, but the Chicago Reader called it the "Best Bang for Your Buck" in Chicago.

We opted for the multi-course Peking duck dinner.  For the six of us, we opted to get one duck and supplement it with sides.  Here's a photo of Laura (our chef and co-owner of the restaurant) carving the duck tableside.

I think I saw her take at least twenty ducks to task while we were eating.  She was amazing! 

We got a beautiful plate of duck...

...plus egg rolls, bok choy, steamed rolls for duck sandwiches, fresh veggies...

...duck fried rice, duck soup, chow fun, hot tea, and fortune cookies for dessert.

I'm full again just thinking about it.

On Sunday, Dan took Andrew and I to Pho 777 for brunch.  You may think pho (a Vietnamese soup made with noodles and a fragrant broth) is a weird dish to eat as your first meal of the day, but if you're at all hungover, try it.  You'll thank me.  And really, you should be thanking Dan, because it was his advice.

A picture from our train stop. 

We were seated in a semi-private back room, which was perfect, because we were able to slurp our pho and I was able to take photos!  The condiments that come with pho are truly amazing.  The red bottle is sriracha sauce, next to it is hoisin, then two types of soy sauce.  Across the front of the condiment tray are various chili sauces.  The plate in front has bean sprouts, jalapenos, and two types of basil.

We opted for an appetizer of spring rolls - each one had three large shrimp in it, was wrapped in rice paper, and was served with a peanut sauce. 

 Below is my pho - lots of basil, torn up to release the flavor, delicious noodles, thin slices of beef that were still cooking when they hit the table.  The combination of spice and steam are a great remedy for a headache (or your sinuses!) and it tastes fantastic too.

After brunch, Dan took us to a Thai grocery store.  I had a blast browsing the aisles, but I didn't want to draw too much attention to myself by taking pictures.  I did photograph the haul I brought home though.  Check it out!

From the top left clockwise, I got a box of jasmine tea bags, a marble mortar and pestle, a box of loose green tea, a bag of star anise, a packet of seasoning for rice/veggies, and a pound of ground white pepper.  I paid $15 cash for all that stuff!  If I had access to this store all the time, you can bet I'd be shopping there often!

Next, we headed into downtown Chicago.  We wandered up and down the famed Michigan Avenue - a shopping mecca.  We checked out some of the historic buildings, walked all over the place, and had a pretty fantastic day. 

Light peeking through the buildings over the Chicago River.

Sunshine on the Wrigley Building.

We met up with Phil and Jess for some drinks - Mother Hubbard's was a fun sports bar where we ate chips, watched football, and drank beer.  They had some fun sports trivia worksheets that Jess and I tried valiantly to fill out while the boys gave half-hearted answers.  Here's our group.

For dinner on Sunday night, Dan took Andrew and I to Tango Sur.  If you're still with me at this point in what may be my longest post ever, let me tell you something.  If you ever go to Chicago, any part of Chicago (and it's a sprawling city), you MUST somehow get yourself to Tango Sur for dinner.  Though the card I grabbed from the restaurant listed a website, I'm having a tough time finding it online.  You can check out this info instead. 

Basically, Tango Sur is a small, dark, super-romantic Argentine steakhouse.  You must show up in person to put your name in, and the doorman will call your cell phone in an hour.  Or two.  Or longer.  Yes, people wait that long for a hunk of beef.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but after an hour of waiting for our phone call (we were seated at 9:45 on a Sunday night) and another hour of waiting for our entree, here is the main event:

Giant, right?  We brought home leftovers.

All in all, we had a fantastic time in Chicago.  I met some fun people, got to know others better, and of course, Andrew and I got to spend quality time with Dan.  What a great city to live, work, play, and EAT in!

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