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International (Chinese) Mall in Westmont

International (Chinese) Mall in Westmont
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  • International (Chinese) Mall in Westmont

    Post #1 - February 3rd, 2019, 2:57 pm
    Post #1 - February 3rd, 2019, 2:57 pm Post #1 - February 3rd, 2019, 2:57 pm
    I was remiss to never start a thread about hanbun when they resided in the International Mall in Westmont. It was a regular stop for me and I was selfishly disappointed when they announced their move-on-up to the city (their new venture Jeong is coming very soon to the former Green Zebra space!)

    But the throwback-y food court– which I've described as dingy, though its actually pretty clean and well lit by skylights– has had its followers before and after the residency of that new school cheffed-out Korean stall.

    There are currently four stalls, though the two farthest on the right are the same restaurant:

    The Chinese Café/ Yu-ton Dumplings stalls certainly have a huge weekend following for Taiwanese crullers and hot soy milk. They also do one of the best beef noodle soups in the area, which folk wisdom has always dictated is only available on weekends, though recent intel leads me to believe its an everyday option.

    You can upgrade to a hand-pulled noodle option, which I would recommend. They have a slippery texture with an initial softness, but chewy bite-through, more delicate than my favorite craggy noodles nearby at Katy's. The broth might be the star of the show, of the more robustly seasoned and slightly murky Taiwanese variant, it's certainly complex with bits of dried ginger and a bone-fortified richness.

    I haven't explored much of the rest of their menu.

    Likewise, I've only dabbled in the dim sum & BBQ offerings at Good Children, the stall on the left, but they also have their fans.

    A new Sichuan spot took over for hanbun, Chengdu Eatery, in the middle stall, which is what got me excited to start this new thread. I've been twice in the past week and their full throttle ma la assault is addictive.

    They have a moderately huge menu. And a large picture menu on the counter, which has helped me sleuth out some dishes I'm excited to try– namely wanza mian, a dish I first read about on Da Beef's Beijing report on his blog. A sort of dan dan-like ground pork and noodle bowl topped with yellow peas. They also offer my favorite dish at A Place by Damao, which is listed as "Sichuan Spicy Wanton Soup." Unfortunately both of these dishes had run out on my second visit.

    What's very cool is that they offer all of their entrees as lunch specials, so all of the real deal dishes, not just the stuff for the sweet-and-sour crowd, are available for between $7.95 and $9.95 with rice and a small salad-y thing.

    IMG_6861.jpeg


    I could not have been any happier with this Boiled Fish. Positively electric. And a huge meal packed with tender fish and lots of veg (celery, leek, & napa.) As good a version of this dish as I've had. And I very much welcomed the always-a-fave chili oil dressed al dente potato side dish.

    IMG_6884.jpeg


    I went with Chongqing Noodle Soup when the Noodle Soup with Ground Pork & Peas was unavailable. I'd never had this dish before, but it quite reminded me of Katy's soupy version of dan dan. The noodles were most likely not house made, but were cooked to an al dente consistency. The broth was, again, totally nuclear and awesome.

    When I'm at the office, I'll scan their menu and post it.

    This food court has a wealth of diverse Chinese food. I feel blessed that its so convenient on my commute. I hope we can stack this thread with reports on the hundreds of dishes on offer here.

    International Mall
    665 Pasquinelli Dr, Westmont, IL 60559
  • Post #2 - February 9th, 2019, 3:52 pm
    Post #2 - February 9th, 2019, 3:52 pm Post #2 - February 9th, 2019, 3:52 pm
    Jefe wrote:They have a moderately huge menu. And a large picture menu on the counter, which has helped me sleuth out some dishes I'm excited to try– namely wanza mian, a dish I first read about on Da Beef's Beijing report on his blog. A sort of dan dan-like ground pork and noodle bowl topped with yellow peas. They also offer my favorite dish at A Place by Damao, which is listed as "Sichuan Spicy Wanton Soup." Unfortunately both of these dishes had run out on my second visit.


    Image

    I really do miss Hanbun as well but the wanza mian at Chengdu Eatery almost makes up for it. It is very full flavored with blood-rich minced pork (with rindy bits), mushy peas, bright greens, and a flat-out delicious ma la broth. If there was a weak link here it was the noodles, which were overcooked to my taste. The pan fried vegetable dumplings were also notably good with an unusual five-spice heavy dipping sauce.

    I've been going to this shopping center since very shortly after it opened in 1984 thanks to the influence of Cantonese neighbors in Villa Park who took us after church - the "Diho market run." We're lucky to have it still going strong though it certainly has been through some iterative fits and starts. For as much as my real international food awakening is attributable later in life, it's fun to reminisce when Pasquinelli Drive hits the radar where those after-school snacks of fried prawn crackers derived, of which my brother and I were so initially suspicious.
  • Post #3 - February 10th, 2019, 9:19 am
    Post #3 - February 10th, 2019, 9:19 am Post #3 - February 10th, 2019, 9:19 am
    Can somebody fill in some recent history, or point me to an LTH thread (which I could not find)? Clearly my ignorance is appaling. Or is there nothing beyond the original post about the current food court and my disappointment (below) with the supermarket? Rereading, I now see that I started this reply thinking this thread was speaking highly of the grocery store, but now I conclude only it referred to the food court, which clearly I should make time to check out when next in the neighborhood.

    I first remember my parents taking me to DiHo market in the 1980s, and going with my then wife in the 1990s at least once. I ate at the formal restaurant at least once on one of those visits.

    I next went with a friend in the early to mid 2000s, by which time there was a small satellite DiHo on Dempster, in Niles or Morton Grove. On all those occasions, those I was with turned up their noses at the food court, so would not let me even enter it to check it out, and I was not in a position to force the issue.

    By the 1990s the original Japanese super store (name escapes me) opened near me at Higgins and Arlington Heights road, almost as big and the higher prices were made up by saving gasoline, so there was seldom a reason to make a "DiHo market run"

    Skip forward to the 2010s, and I stopped by the "supermarket" several times on my way to/from activities in Westmont, and the name changed and it slid downhill. The last time I went was maybe a year (or two) ago, the with the empty shelves (empty aisles?) the stock was probably less than the any of the small single width local korean/chinese/indian stores within 5 miles of home (Des Plaines). That was also the first time I ventured into the food court, but being short on time and having been disappointing by the supermarket, I paid more attention to the architecture (balcony) and seeming dinginess (despite the wonderful skylight) of the court and empty stalls than to looking at any menus, which apparently was my BIG mistake as this thread raves about them (or is was there a VERY recent revival there?)
    --Carey aka underdog
  • Post #4 - February 10th, 2019, 9:38 am
    Post #4 - February 10th, 2019, 9:38 am Post #4 - February 10th, 2019, 9:38 am
    Hi,

    I walk through the store and rarely buy anything there. It has not kept up with H-Mart, Mitsuwa and Chicago Food (yeah, it has another name).

    A friend who used to work for an architect in the mall over 30 years ago, loved the food court and recommended not using the closest available bathrooms. Even in the not as heavily used bathrooms, it can be interesting: a woman walked into the stall next to me, jumped up (because her feet disappeared), did her business and jumped off. When I had a chance, I opened the door and clearly see her footprints on the toilet seat.

    Once there was a Chowhound outing at the food court, where maybe 20 of us descended on the place, scattered to buy food, then laid it out on tables to sample. Back then I recall regional and homey food not seen in Chinatown. Attending on weekends is when all the food court stalls are open. This might be an outing worthy of a revival.

    Katy's Noodles is rather close and its siren song loud, so I am not alone in bypassing International Mall for Katy's.

    Every time I know I am passing the Ogden Avenue off the tollroad, I debate do I have enough time to visit either International Mall or Katy's (just north of Ogden at Cass).

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - February 10th, 2019, 1:15 pm
    Post #5 - February 10th, 2019, 1:15 pm Post #5 - February 10th, 2019, 1:15 pm
    Just a a point to note...

    The food court is separate from the grocery store even in a separate building.

    On my few visits it was quiet in the court with moderate business.
    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat
  • Post #6 - February 10th, 2019, 1:20 pm
    Post #6 - February 10th, 2019, 1:20 pm Post #6 - February 10th, 2019, 1:20 pm
    Panther in the Den wrote:Just a a point to note...

    The food court is separate from the grocery store even in a separate building.


    Yes. This thread is about the food court. The Whole Grain Fresh Market (this DiHo everyone is referencing?) is depressing and I don't shop there.

    diversedancer wrote:Can somebody fill in some recent history, or point me to an LTH thread (which I could not find)?


    I don't know the history of Chinese Café nor Good Children, though I recall that they've been around as long as I've been going there (5ish years, I became a frequent customer with the arrival of hanbun.)

    Chendu Eatery, as I said replaced hanbun, so its about a year old, tops.

    I "use the old site search" and I was able to find 24 matches to International Mall Westmont HERE.

    Cathy2 wrote: Katy's Noodles is rather close and its siren song loud, so I am not alone in bypassing International Mall for Katy's.


    I love Katy's too, easily in my top 5. But they do Beijing style stuff and at the mall you find Sichuan, Cantonese, and Taiwanese. So I guess it depends on what you're craving. For city dwellers, I can see the destination-worthy appeal of Katy's unparalleled hand pulled noodles. The cuisines represented by the options in the mall, except for maybe Taiwanese (and the fantastic niu rou mian) are more plentiful in the city.

    The few things I've sampled at Chengdu Eatery rival stuff in the city, though. And they seem to have at least a few unique offerings on the menu. Thanks for the report on the wanza mian Santander!

    Maybe some other folks should go and eat there and report back!
  • Post #7 - February 10th, 2019, 5:28 pm
    Post #7 - February 10th, 2019, 5:28 pm Post #7 - February 10th, 2019, 5:28 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:A friend who used to work for an architect in the mall over 30 years ago, loved the food court and recommended not using the closest available bathrooms. Even in the not as heavily used bathrooms, it can be interesting: a woman walked into the stall next to me, jumped up (because her feet disappeared), did her business and jumped off. When I had a chance, I opened the door and clearly see her footprints on the toilet seat.

    Hey, does anybody remember Brown Trout?
  • Post #8 - February 10th, 2019, 5:39 pm
    Post #8 - February 10th, 2019, 5:39 pm Post #8 - February 10th, 2019, 5:39 pm
    I gather the formal, sit down restaurant that was the southwest corner of the food court building is no more? I am amazed the food court can survive without another reason to go there, e.g. the former DiHo market. That says a lot. I will REALLY have to try to go there soon. As in try to arrange for a dance partner for the place I went south of there when I stopped on the way.
    --Carey aka underdog
  • Post #9 - February 10th, 2019, 5:45 pm
    Post #9 - February 10th, 2019, 5:45 pm Post #9 - February 10th, 2019, 5:45 pm
    For those who are interested, this link has search results for the International Mall references. Some stuff you have to pick past, but its all there.

    Yu's Mandarin is in the restaurant space now. The restaurant located there previously was Triple Crown, which has another location in Chicago's Chinatown.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #10 - February 10th, 2019, 6:14 pm
    Post #10 - February 10th, 2019, 6:14 pm Post #10 - February 10th, 2019, 6:14 pm
    PIGMON wrote:Hey, does anybody remember Brown Trout?

    A solid year between posts and you poop out this gem!

    Pigmon, count me a fan!
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #11 - February 10th, 2019, 9:45 pm
    Post #11 - February 10th, 2019, 9:45 pm Post #11 - February 10th, 2019, 9:45 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Yu's Mandarin is in the restaurant space now.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    Yu's Mandarin?

    Say it ain’t so! Any relation to the location...

    Yu's Mandarin Restaurant
    200 E Golf Rd, Schaumburg

    ?

    It was one of my favorites when I was working up that way.

    Mongolian Beef, Stir Fried Noodles...

    I am so there...
    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat
  • Post #12 - March 25th, 2019, 4:38 pm
    Post #12 - March 25th, 2019, 4:38 pm Post #12 - March 25th, 2019, 4:38 pm
    Huge bummer, Chengdu Eatery had a sign that said "Closed for Foreseeable Future" on its closed gate today. That boiled fish was my top bite of 2019 so far. I hope they resolve whatever issues they might be having.

    The good news is that Chinese Café dished up a delicious lunch–the beef noodle soup was on point. I also had Katy's rendition this week and I've got to nod in CC's direction– the beef in particular was top notch, tender and beefy compared to a rather spent product in Katy's recent bowl. CC's broth is more complex than Katy's. And while the hand-pulled noodles at Katy's reign supreme forever, CC's are very likable with their more dainty, yet slurpable profile.

    A dish called "Hakkanese sauté" was a familiar stir fry of shards of pork, celery, chilies, and soy-marinated tofu, simple and satisfying. And Taiwanese crispy chicken was hot, salty, and addictive!

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