Friday, July 29, 2011

Road Trip: Moon Palace--Chicago

Hubby and I have a couple of good friends who moved to Indy from Chicago not long after we moved here, and we actually met them through my blog.  We have bonded over food in Indy and Chicago and they often give us great tips for more out of the way places in Chicago to go to, that you might not easily find if you didn’t have an insider’s knowledge.  So the other day I shot an email asking about dim sum or Chinese in Chinatown, because I had never really eaten in Chicago’s Chinatown.  One of the suggestions was Moon Palace.  Not only did he recommend it, but told us exactly what we MUST order—and I figured, hey, who am I to argue?  So we did.
Chinatown is a really easy place to get to coming into Chicago from Indy, making it an easy stop on your way into town.  We managed to get there just in time for lunch and ordered (from the dinner menu, although they do have lots of lunch specials) exactly as we were told.  Chive dumplings ($7) and fish fillet with salt and pepper ($16 from the “chef’s suggestions" section of the menu). 

The dumplings came (there are 12 of them!) and I have to say, my first thought was, hmmmm….they didn’t look that appealing.  But I cut into them and started eating and turns out, they are very good.  The dumpling skin is a little doughier than would normally be my preference, but the minced filling with a ton of chives was so fresh and tasty—a little soy and vinegar and these were top notch.  The more you ate them, the more addicting they became.  We nearly ate them all. And that’s a lot of dumplings.
So next they brought us the salt and pepper fish.  Again, I looked at this dish, which was similarly white as the dumplings were, and thought, there is no way this dish is going to have any flavor.  But I was totally wrong here too.  The fish was delicious.  The fillets were lightly fried and had just a perfect amount of seasoning—salt and pepper.  Soy sauce was too much—took away the delicate flavor.  A teeny bit of the chili oil was nice with it, but honestly, I liked it with just a bite of the veggies that sat underneath—sautéed white onions, green onions and jalapenos. The fish itself was not overcooked nor was it fishy at all.  I can see why my friend loves this dish.  As huge as the menu is at this place, and as good as a lot of the things were, I would be hard pressed not to order one or both of these items the next time we go.  Although next time I am intrigued to try the dim sum place he recommended.  Nothing like some good dim sum.
The interior of the restaurant was a little nicer than what you would expect from your average run of the mill Chinese place in a Chinatown.  It was also exceptionally clean.  The service was courteous and professional and there was a fair amount of people in there for lunch.
Anyway, just goes to show you how valuable personal recommendations can be in a City that is not your home, particularly one the size of Chicago.  If you have any off the beaten path faves, let me know!
Moon Palace Restaurant
216 West Cermack Road
Chicago, IL

Moon Palace on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I seem to recall I also suggested that you to first order a Mai Tai as an aperitif, I don't see that mentioned anywhere in your review.

    Lao Szechuan is another favorite in Chinatown. It's a little hard to find, it's in the inner courtyard of Chinatown Square, at the far west end of the mall. Dry Chili Chicken is the dish to order there:

    2172 South Archer Avenue
    Chicago 60616