What do you do when the best dumpling place in Chicago’s Chinatown is under construction? Generally, perhaps avoid going to Chinatown at all. But when you’re already there, the situation is a bit different. We made a decision to head to MCCB (Modern Chinese Cook Book) for some Sichuan-style Chinese food. It made the decision a lot easier when I saw the restaurant was mostly full of Asian people.
We started out with the Dan Dan Noodles and Sliced Potatoes in Vinegar. The dan dan noodles were just like such noodles should be. They had the right amount of spice, oil and minced meat to give me what I needed. The sliced potatoes were okay, but nothing more than that. However, I really don’t know how these could have been any better – it wasn’t the execution so much as it was I don’t think this was my kind of dish. Alas, my main course would be the real determining factor of this meal.
Thus, I ordered the Chicken with Taro and it was immediately apparent that no white person had ever ordered the dish before. First my waiter asked if I knew it was a soup. Yes, I did. Then he asked if I knew it would be really spicy. Yes, I did. Finally, as though a hail mary, he asked if I knew the chicken would have bones in it. Yes, I sure hoped so if I was going to be eating authentic Chinese food. With his acknowledgments in hand like a flight attendant confirming I was good to sit in an emergency exit row, my food soon arrived. It was just as I hoped it would be, plenty of numbing peppers to add delicious spiciness to the meat, and chicken that was perfectly juicy and tender. Sure, I had to eat around the bones, but that’s what makes life worth living sometimes. Plus, I always love me some taro in any form, even if it’s used to suck up spice and broth.
MCCB may not have lived up to some of the best Sichuan food in LA’s San Gabriel Valley, but I was still pretty happy with it. If nothing else, it helped to show that Chicago’s Chinatown is more than just a one trick (dumpling spot) pony.