Right off the Argyle station stop on the red-line of the Chicago CTA, we come across what is known as New Chinatown (well, it’s more like Vietnamese-town, really). I love Vietnamese food. We were hungry, and there were so many Vietnamese restaurants on that street.
But there… at the corner of Argyle and Broadway, we see it’s awning hovering above us…
And so, here I present to you: My Lunch at Tank Noodles.
Known in English as, summer rolls. The transparent looking layer is actually rice paper wrappers. Inside the roll, there’s rice vermicelli noodles, lettuce, cilantro, bean sprouts, mints, scallions, and possibly others (depending on the restaurant I suppose or the person rolling it) and of course slices of shrimps!!! These summer rolls are often served with a peanut sauce mixture!
LOOKY: mouth watering (above average)
TASTY: i want seconds! (above average)
Remarks: Summer rolls are one of my personal favorites of Vietnamese cuisine. The serving size may be small, but the noodles inside can be filling. The peanut sauce* was delicious, with sprinkles of crushed peanuts. The peanut sauce texture was just right! Other restaurants sometimes make them too watery. I like to add lots of Sriracha hot sauce into the peanut sauce to give it an extra kick. (I like spicy food). Each summer roll was represented very nicely, revealing the huge pieces of shrimp hidden under the rice paper wraps. (I found it so hard to get the shrimps to show up on the top after I roll it up… sigh) Did i mention I liked the plate?
(*WARNING: Sauce not recommended for people with peanut allergies. Sorry! Substitute the sauce with fish sauce or hoisin sauce or something…)
Phở Tái [fuh tie]
A bowl of delicious bowl of beef noodles soup as shown below. It’s pretty much rice vermicelli in beef based soup with slices of half raw beef on top. (Don’t worry! The soup is very hot! You just flip the beef slices over, and it pretty much cooks instantly in the hot soup.) In addition, there’s a wonderful mixture of herbs and spices that’s added. On the side, they provide sliced limes, bean sprouts (raw or cooked upon request), green onions, basils, coriander leaves and Oooo mint leaves! You can squeeze some lime juice into the soup, then add bean sprouts and mint leaves, as desired. There’s also many variations of this dish, if you’re not too much into beef.
LOOKY: mouth watering (above average)
TASTY: like a party in my mouth (omg!! omg!!)
Remarks: This bowl of Pho was exceptional for many, many reasons. When the bowl arrived at my table, a huge grin appeared on my face and I was dying to dig in. However, I had to refrain myself for a few seconds while I take a few quick snapshots. I was very amazed to see that they had a generous side dish of bean sprouts, onions, and mint leaves to place into the soup. Many restaurants are often stingy with the mint leaves (maybe they’re more costly?), but here, they provided plenty. It gives such a nice touch in flavor to the soup, so even if you don’t enjoy eating it, I’d recommend just letting it sit in the soup for a while. Look at these beauties!!!
I have to admit that this was one of the best bowls of Pho I’ve eaten at a restaurant. (Nothing beats home made Pho!… not made by me though, I’ve only tried cooking it with pre-made soup base that comes along with a packaged bag of spices.) I like to put a lot of mint leaves into the soup, even though I usually don’t end up eating it all. I also like to add in a couple of slices of hot green peppers into the soup. It gives the soup a nice hot spicy kick! On a mini sauce dish, I put together a mixture of hoisin sauce and sriracha sauce for my slices of beef. (Sriracha sauce is wonderful! It goes very well with many dishes. I’ll tell more about it in a later post I guess…)
Overall, my lunch at Tank Noodles was amazing!!! I would definitely highly recommend people in Chicago (or visitors in Chicago) to go there and give it a shot. There’s a lot of other dishes in the menu that are also just plain delicious! I ordered very typical Vietnamese dishes, so I’d definitely recommend trying other dishes from the menu. Also, the service was quick and very satisfying.
One note about Vietnamese culture: When eating in Vietnamese restaurants, traditionally, the waiter won’t leave the bill on the customer’s table. It’s thought of as disrespectful, because it feels like they are rushing the customer to finish their meal. There’s usually a number system used in the restaurant. There’s like a big visible sticker with a number written on it at every table. Usually, you’ll have to pay at the cashier’s counter and just leave the tips at the table.