Katy’s Dumpling house
This is certainly not new to LTHforum. JeffB has mentioned it many times:
"I like Katy's soup noodles."
"once more cry out in the wilderness for my favorite soup noodles at Katy's (aka K's) Dumpling House"
"Katy's (aka "K's") Dumpling House, Cass & Ogden" Finally an address*!
" you owe it to yourself to try this at Katy's in Westmont, where the noodles are hand pulled." (to Rich about the dan-dan noodles)
Another fleeting mention in Ed’s Potsticker House thread
In the Niu Rou Mian (Chinese Beef Noodle Soup) Recipes thread JeffB mentioned that it may be worth checking if Katy's would make shaved noodles. The idea of fresh noodles by itself was very appealing and coupled with a friend's then recent relocation nearabouts, we decided to go there. This was sometime towards the end of December last year and since then I've been back a few times to sample more and each time has been as least as good as my first wonderful visit.
Katy's Dumpling House or K's (or as the Chinese characters, I'm told, say "Zhao's second kid's house of 'small eats'/snacks) is in a very interesting strip mall on just North of Ogden on Cass. In that strip mall is a small Chinese store, three or four Indian restaurants (including Shree – which my friend who's been there warns me vehemently against) and stores (one of which I saw had small potted curry leaf plants; $10). There is also a Thai restaurant there. Yet I don't think I can get myself to not go into Katy's anytime I'm anywhere near there.
My first visit there was on a cold snowy day. I couldn't have asked for better food on a day like that. With the Niu Rou Mian thread and memories of the knife shaved noodles in Philly dancing in my head, I asked the person behind the counter for Niu rou mien and if they had dao xiao (knive shaved) noodles. The person behind the counter gave me a quizzical look then smiled at me and the Chinese lady waiting to order behind me, shook his head and said they didn't have any dao xiao ('x' pronounced 'ksh' as in xiaolin) mien. As my friend remarked, in places like this – small, serving predominantly an ethnic group – the interface between the kitchen and customer is usually lacking. I think though that my initial exchange broke the ice and I've had very pleasant service there (including, on my last visit there, free lessons in Chinese pronunciation ).
We had on that first visit potstickers, which were crisp and hot and still juicy inside (watch out, hot juices!). The house made chili oil (la jiao yu) was a good accompaniment. Soon I got my
Niu Rou Mien
the beef in it was very tender, imbued with a hint of star anise in an excellent broth slightly spicy from the chili oil and redolent with fresh cilantro. The pickled greens add a nice note of crunchy sourness. The star in that dish though was
fresh handmade thick chewy juicy noodles (no apologies for the adjective soup)
Fresh hand made noodles (ga mien? though not hand-pulled la mien like in nr706's pic). The noodles were chewy and with the broth and meat made for a great bowl of soup noodles. As A2Fay, who had been craving the shaved noodles we had in Philly, put it - this was different, didn't satisfy that craving but instead might start another craving. We tried also a plate of the
spicy fried noodles
This had a nice smokiness, great wok hay, with refreshingly chewy noodles and ample pieces of meats and shrimp (also krab). One can get this with a choice of meats.
One of us also had chicken noodle soup and liked it. I tried a bit and it had a delicious mild broth – a comforting bowl if anyone ever needed one. I was busy enjoying my beef noodle soup though, but then I tried what was the best dish that day - A2Fay's
Dan dan mien
the Sichuan street specialty. A complex spicy broth, it had a bit sweetness - I thought I detected a hint of lemongrass (but that can't be) – maybe from the Sichuan peppercorn (hua jiao that gives a minty cooling numbness. I had a few spoons (I thought) and next thing I know A2Fay grabs the bowl with a "Get your own if you are going to inhale my lunch" look in her brows and portions me some in a small bowl.
(another pic from another visit)
That was a terrific first lunch – in my top ten for 2005.
We went to a movie later that evening and I remember sitting there thinking before it started that no matter how good or bad the movie is going to be, thanks to the lunch, I'm going to leave with a smile on my face. I'm positive I did (but I can't recall which movie).
On that first trip there I enjoyed myself so much that I knew I would go back. I had taken pictures of the limited menu on the wall, two of three which were unintelligible to me. The third clearly must be the dumpling menu – since it higher quantities and prices. There were also a fair number of people who would come in, go to the low window ordering area and leave with bags of dumplings, taken out from the freezer near the cash register.
Fresh Noodles Menu
House Specials Board and Dumplings Poster
Translations posted here - please post comments, corrections and clarifications below this thread (i.e., here, not there) and I'll edit the translation.
Armed with the names of the dishes, we sampled some of the 'House Specials' – these are in transparent covered plastic containers in the refrigerator next to the cash register. As far as I can tell these are eaten cold or at room temperature (well, maybe not the meatballs – this is in a congealed sauce and I've never picked it up).
marinated duck wings and Shanghai smoked fish
The duck wings were alright, good duck flavor though a little tough and since it's wings there's limited meat. I enjoyed the smoked fish (though A2Fay found it a bit 'fishy'). Not really smoky, it comes in a star anise flavoured sweetish sauce. For a point of reference - Moon Palace has this (cold appetizer) which was a smaller portion but had larger pieces of fish. The Moon Palace version was much sweeter and I preferred (marginally) Katy's version, although the pieces of fish at MP were bigger, thicker cut. FWIW later I've seen boxes at Katy's with larger pieces of fish.
The Szechwan Noodle Soup
comes in a spicy broth (though not as much as the dan dan noodles) with chili and Sichuan peppercorns, filled with meats, shrimp, squid and vegetables.
The Beef Tendon Noodle Soup
I liked a lot. The broth was the same as the NRM, I liked the soft cartilegenous tendon that must have been simmered for ages. The tendon pieces were permeated with a star anise flavour and were soft enough to cut in two by pinching between chopsticks, the chewy noodles were a great counterpoint. If I could get a mix of beef and the beef tendon - that would be the perfect bowl.
I should note that these bowls are quite substantial. I would advice against leaving some unfinished to take home. As these are fresh noodles, reheating in the broth renders them mushy.
Katy's also makes good fried rice, nice smoky taste - though my friend (who ordered it) said on a subsequent visit it wasn't as good as when we got it.
It's hard to go wrong with the noodles though, if not in soup then stir fried.
The pork and bok choy ones we had (10 for $3.95) had not too thick a skin, with ample and juicy filling.
Along with something from the refrigerator they make a good meal.
The best item I've had from the refrigerator has to be the marinated pork shank(?) slices.
(On the right of the spicy beef tendon (ma la niu jing))
Jiang Xiao Joe was described to me as shank or foot (opinions were divided over what exactly it was; I should have asked the chef, I suppose). At any rate, they are soft slices of very flavorful meat*. It's no wonder that I've always seen it on some table whenever I've been at Katy's. It comes with a small tub of a very tasty soy sauce. The house chili oil (ask for it) went well with it as well. This pork makes for some incredible sandwiches.
*No no no, I will not say porcine delight, though that is exactly what it is
Jiang Xiao Joe
I really wish Katy's was closer to me – why isn't there a place in Chinatown that has such wonderful fresh noodles? As the ethnic populations grow, the best places will be found closer to those pockets.
Want good food, will travel. Thank you JeffB!
Katy's Dumpling House
665 N. Cass Ave.
Westmont, IL 60559
Hours: 11am – 9pm