Its cold, its a Sunday, there is football on the television, oh and its getting dark.
So why stay in when you can get on the el and ride 45 mins down the red line to Chinatown for no other good reason than you fancy some potstickers?
It was closer than a 2hr flight to NYC to hit up Excellent Dumplings as well and worth the opportunity to play a little bit of a comparison too, I need a local fallback spot.
So I went.
From Cermak -Chinatown station you can see the friendship gate in the distance, but I have found that if you exit the station to the north end and cross over into the China Town Square mall area there is a much greater concentration of places to eat. After a little bit of a walk up and down using my usual criteria of picking somewhere that is either busy, shiny, or full of locals I stopped off at Sweet Station. It said it was a bakery cafe, but I could see pictures of salt and pepper chicken wings and potstickers so I was in. Oh and it looked quite shiny too.
Inside it was more like a diner vibe than a chinese resturant, they had some neat monitors on each booth scrolling through pictures from the menu. It would have been cool if you could have selected what you wanted by touchscreen, but you cant have everything. I didnt see the screen until I had ordered anyway and then there were no pictures of anything I had actually ordered.
True to type I opted for some hot and sour soup and a plate of chicken potstickers, but this time just because they looked so good I threw in a plate of salt and pepper chicken wings, oh and a sneaky little tsingtao beer as well.
The soup arrived first and for a small bowl at $2.75 it was a big bowl and way good value. In contrast to the soup I get at Excellent Dumpling in NYC this bowl had more pork, some prawn and only a small amount of tofu. A nice bit of egg drop mixed in and some chinsese mushtooms to, to add to that there were slices of fresh red chilli and a smattering of scallion slices garnishing the top. (Sweet Station 1 Excellent dumpling 0).
It was almost too hot in temperature to eat and after several burned tongue attempts I was looking anxiously for my beer to arrive.
Next to arrive were the fried chicken potstickers, a little sloppy with the soy sauce dribbling in transit. They were OK, not good enough to come back for, the dough a little thick and the filling not too seasoned, plus I am very biased (Sweet Station 1 Excellent dumpling 1).
Now when it came to the salt and pepper chicken wings, there was so comparison, simply because I hadn’t had any at Excellent dumpling for one. So this has to be a draw for now. The wings were hot and quite meaty but they were not going to get my ass out of my chair to come back down to get them again, they were nice and spicy if you added the raw chilli garnish. One cannot really complain about them, they dont really have any place in a chinese resturant and to be fair I had no place ordering them.
Sweet Station is located at 2101 S. China Place, Chicago IL 6061 not far from the Cermak-Chinatown red el line station.
website: http://www.mysweetstation.com/index.html be warned the page scrolls quickly and makes my head hurt