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Places Already Mentioned - Reprint of Spring World Dinner

Places Already Mentioned - Reprint of Spring World Dinner
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  • Places Already Mentioned - Reprint of Spring World Dinner

    Post #1 - November 1st, 2004, 11:24 am
    Post #1 - November 1st, 2004, 11:24 am Post #1 - November 1st, 2004, 11:24 am
    In reporting and (re-savoring last night's dinner at the New Mandarin Kitchen), I inevitably though of another great dinner made better by the B1's menu digging, a meal long ago at Spring World in Chinatown. I could not, however, find the report in the Chowhound archives (what a surprise! :shock: :shock: ). I've reprinted it below. Note, I have not eaten at Spring World in ages. I hope recent dinners match this superior outing.

    Appetizer plate four ways - conch in a sneaky hot sauce, also very chewy; chicken in black vinegar dressing, maybe the finest dish in the house; mushrooms wrapped around bean curd sheets, more rolls of bean curd than some other local versions; tendon, sliced razor thin, forgotten dressing, but delicious.

    Cold Yunnan noodles, like spaghetti, in a multi-flavor sauce, similar to the chicken, but also very heavy on the cilantro. Could have stopped right here.

    Beef and special mushrooms in a dark rich sauce - This was a Trio-esque type dish where the richness of the beef merged into the richness of these special mushrooms. Blindfolded, you would not know which was which. (A 4 color brochure was provided for us later to learn more about the imported mushrooms.)

    Yunnan ham with leeks - Wow! While I would have loved to have had the ham, procured we are told via a hell of a lot of red-tape, plain with buns, I was plenty happy with this preparation. Yunnan ham really tastes almost exactly like good country ham. The same dense texture, the same intense ham flavor, and the same lingering saltiness that tons of soaking cannot kill. Could have stopped here.

    Pan fried dumplings - A fine, if un-dishtinguished, dish. Larger than typical dumplings

    Chengdu dumplings (a/k/a boiled dumplings) - A superior version, somehow the called for chili oil was not as oily as it could have been. What was the added grated substance, ginger?

    Kung pao chicken - A nod to a first time Chinatowner in our group, yet another superior version. Just the exact amount sauce clinging to the meat and bright fresh peanuts made this a fine dish to eat.

    Pigs feet "Hong Tashen" - Hong Tashen, as explained to me, is a city in Yunnan and the name of Spring World in Chinese. We were not sure if the dish was meant to be in the style of the city Hong Tashen or in the style of the restaurant named Hong Tashen. Regardless, I am now convinced that I like pigs feet as much as I like spicy desserts, meaning a hell of a lot more than I thought I did. This was a spicy dish, loaded with dried chili peppers, yet unlike some dishes at like, Lao Sze Chuan [a great Szechuan restaurant in Chicago], the peppers meant something. OK, fatty, chewy and bony too, but all in a good way. Give in to pigs feet!

    Tofu and Chinese okra - No one was quite sure what is really Chinese okra. We think it is the long green vegetable also called ohba perhaps and used in Indian cooking. This was a mild satisfying dish that played extremely well against the more rich and spicy other courses.

    Soup with pork meatballs - Very loose textured meatballs, reminded me, really of a matzah ball, another milder dish to offer balance.

    Shrimps with a red paste - The only dish I did not appreciate - There was much discussion of the nature of this paste, with most speculation centered around 100 year old eggs. I like a good salt rush like the next guy, but this dish was just odd salty.

    Spicy baby chicken with ginger - I have had this dish at Spring World before, and it has always been good, but this was gooder, as my daughter might say.

    Tilapia fish with horrible looking sauce - Insert gross analogy at will, that tasted perfect.

    Scallion cakes - Is this getting redundant, the best version I have had in Chicago. Wisps of grease, flaky, crisp and puffy in spots, I could have eaten a dozen.

    Fresh fruit and Yunnan style moon cakes - This is not on the menu, but what the house offered us for dessert. Yunnan moon cakes are totally different from the Cantonese versions, no nuts or bean paste. Instead, an extremely flaky dough, from lard I am sure, filled with tiny bits of Yunnan ham.

    Spring World is in the Chinatown Mall alongside Archer Avenue, in Chicago's Chinatown.