Growing up in the Southwest Suburbs, we almost never made the trek into ‘The City’ (aka Chicago). The rare times we did was because my mom needed to go to Sears to get something on sale. When you have 6 kids, sales are a life line. Being suburb bound, I was never aware of the many ethnic neighborhoods that give Chicago it’s color…including China Town. The first time I ever ate authentic Chinese food (as opposed the rice dish my mom made and we called chop suey) was when I visited England in the late 1990s which was also my late 30s.
Our food choices growing up while nutritious resided definitively on the bland end of the spectrum (aside from the most important spices…salt and salt and more salt with a generous dose of seasoned salt). I have made a choice to become much more adventurous in my eating habits so, these days, I will eat almost anything put in front of me (as long as I can pick out the cilantro/coriander). When visiting a foreign land, I ask the locals I am visiting to order their favorite dishes for me but not to tell me what the dish is. Blissful ignorance of the name helps me to not succumb to my food prejudices. I find it much easier to savor Philippino dinuguan than to eat it by it’s English name of pig’s blood soup.
On this day, my wife and I ate at a restaurant in China Town called the Emperor’s Choice. We figured, if the restaurant was the choice of the Emperor then it must be the best in town. I have a business trip scheduled for China soon so where I will have authentic delicacies readily available. I intend to sample some of the exotics. Then I will be able to determine how the Emperor’s Choice in Chicago compares with the People’s choice in China.