Date of Last Visit: 19 November 2010
The Victim: Tim
The Damage: $10 each
The Background: My employer’s location in downtown Chicago is not a bad one. If you like shopping. But if you like Chinese food (like I do), you’re in a bit of a wasteland. This is a problem for someone who was used to having Chinese food for lunch at least once at week in London.
So somewhere, somehow, I had read about Hong Kong Cafe. There was a quick search on Yelp for Chinese close to my office, which turned up raves. And then there was the LTH Forum (the local food boards), where a core of Chicago foodies declared (and photographed) their love.
It was time for a visit.
Hong Kong Cafe is on the 3rd floor of an office building full of jewelers. If you didn’t know it was there, you would never visit. We didn’t take the lift up to the restaurant, but I did think the lift was photo-worthy.
My colleague and I both opted for the lunch special. $7.45 for soup, egg roll, rice, and main. My hot and sour soup was really really good. Served piping hot with just enough of a kick to it. And full of very good things. I confirmed that this soup did not come from a bucket. The proprieters make everything fresh and on site.
My egg roll was flaky on the outside and full of more delicious things on the inside. In my haste to finish it after that first perfect bite, I neglected to more closely investigate the ingredients. The sweet and sour sauce is home made. In short, I could have done with another one of these.
For my main, I opted for the Szechuan chicken with peanuts. (Kung Pao Chicken?) My colleague and I both noted that our dishes weren’t overdone with meat like they can be in some places. For both of our dishes, the highlight was on the vegetables. (Tim ordered the Three Delicacies, which included beef, chicken and prawns. And lots of vegetables.) My dish was packed with peanuts…A LOT of peanuts. This is a good thing in my book. Ah, and the chili sauce you see there in the background? GREAT stuff. And homemade as well. Tim and I both cleaned our plates. (Although in truth, I may have left some white rice behind.)
The Verdict: Sometimes you come across a basic place where the food is made with care, the service is warm and friendly, and the price is totally right. The Hong Kong Cafe is all that, and more. Simple. I’ll be back.
P.S. For various reasons, I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus this past week. This will all become clearer later. Don’t fret. I’m sitting on a backlog of posts….Hub 51, San Soo Gab San, Shiso, and the Logan Square Farmers’ Market. Plus some more!