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Sun morn Odyssey; Maxwell St., Jim's, Shui Wah,plus Lao Sze Chuan and Fat Willy's (Looong)

Octarine | Mar 14, 200410:07 PM

A vertibale smorgasbord of food! I figured this will be easier on the server than separate posts so here goes:

I stopped at Maxwell St. this morning and was very nearly blown away by the gale force winds. The Oaxacan tamale place had no tarp over it, I hope nothing happened to it, they were packing up as I got there at 1. I picked up a steak gordita with everything from the place that has the piles of flautas and the hand made gorditas ( I can never remember their names sorry). It was great, good masa flavor and that very vaguely livery taste to the steak that I can only find in a Mexican type place (Wholly Frijoles has the same taste but it's not as palatable to me). I ate that while being frozen, I considered a consomme but I knew I needed to save room for Jim's.

Jim's Polish Sausage; in all my years in Chicago I had never been here (well maybe my dad took me here when I was a little kid but I don't remember). WOW. What a great great sandwich. As others have noted,the Maxwell St Original place next door had a line but Jim's was deserted. I gont one with mustard and grilled onion. Normally i am not an onion fan but these were just the way I like them, soft with a good bit of carmelization. At $2.20 for a polish and fries, its a fantastic bargain, I will be back often.

On to Shui Wah. I love this place and was seriously jonesing for some salt and pepper squid. There was at least an hour wait so instead I ordered to go: S&P squid, shu mai, ha gow, and chiu chow dumplings. I took the ten minutes to run over to Chinatown Market and pick up some soy sauce for the gf, some drunken chicken marinade, tofu, and pork dumpling for later in the week then headed back. Iwas tsill hungry so I arranged the containers on the passenger seat and munched on LSD going back to Evanston. Squid was so so, I really think this needs to be eaten within a couple minutes of coming out of the fryer, even the 10 minutes I waited made a big difference. The other dumpligs were good as always except the wrapper on the chiu chow dumplings seemed a bit gummier than usual, maybe another time sensitive issue?

Speaking of chinese food, my new job in Oakbrook Terrace places me less than 5 minutes form the Westmont location of LSC. I have been there 5 times in the last two weeks and I can confidently say that each time I go in, I look at the menu and think to myself "OK, I'm going to try something new even though it cant possibly be as good as the last thing I had".

I have been wrong 5 times. The salt and pepper cuttlefish was great if a bit chewy, the rice cakes with pork and black mushrooms I asked for special was wonderful, not quite Ed's but I was stretching the Szechuan boundary there and deserved what I got, the lamb with cumin rocked my Irish born lamb eating world, the shredded pork with potherb almost made me cry, the fish filet with spicy Szechuan sauce was incredible, it looks oily and evil but it is perfectly balanced flavor heaven. At ~$6 bucks for lunch with soup ( Oh how could I forget the great hot and sour soup, just enough sour and the heat sneaks up on you) this is easily the best deal in The Land.

Fat Willy's was an idea of a friend of mine, they wanted to go and I was in the mood for BBQ so off I went, armed with some advice from GWiv and a wonderful cell phone performance of his last review of the place.

The girls got a slab of baby backs apiece (tell me thats not the best sign of a Keeper, fellas!) while Lee and I split the 4X4 combo platter. Service was iffy, we waited a half hour, then the server who took our drink order apparently was sniping our table and there was a bit of diplomacy at the front desk which resulted in a differently bandannnad server for the rest of the meal.

The hot links had been removed from the menu we were informed after trying to order them, we settled for ribs, chicken, brisket, and shrimp. This was the first of several disappointments. after about five minutes, the server came back and told us the brisket was sold out (~6:15 on a Sat night) Hmmm. We got pulled pork instead. Ribs were good, had some tooth to them and a nice mild flavor, chicken was better than expected, moist and tasty. Pulled pork was big chunks in a BBQ sauce, very dry. Shrimp were good, not overcooked which was nice but nothing to write home about.

Sides were unremarkable but the roasted corn was nice, I imagine it will be MUCH better when we get some decent corn in Chicago in late July. the bill averaged out to $38 bucks per person when all was said and done with a couple beers apiece, I think I will skip this and try Honey 1's $14.50 slabs next time.

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