My guest, Michael Turelli, left Chicago this morning, bound for a thesis exam in Rochester. But before he departed we gave him a send-off meal at my favorite Chinese restaurant in Chicago. It’s a small place called Spring World, specializing in the spicy and complex food of Yunnan province. Turelli and I went with my Chicago colleague Manyuan Long, who happens to come from the border of Yunnan and Szechuan. That, of course, gave us a special entrée to the food, and we placed ourselves in his hands. Here’s what he ordered (I recommend clicking on each dish to enlarge it in full gustatory glory):
Beef with rich sauce and several kinds of wild mushrooms. This dish was fantastic:
Chengdu cold rice noodles with spicy sauce, a Szechuan dish. These were incendiary, but superb. The sauce, heavily laden with hwa jo (Szechuan peppercorns) tasted exactly like the kind of stuff I ate on a trip to Szechuan several years ago:
Jao, pork-filled dumplings. I liked these better than the northern Chinese version, for the wrappers were quite thick and chewy. Yum!
Duck smoked over wood (I didn’t find out which wood) and served scallions and what I think was hoisin sauce—much like a Beijing duck, but without the pancakes:
Yunnanese crispy chicken:
Home-cured Yunan ham with leeks. This has a taxonomic resemblance to twice-cooked pork:
The end of a perfect meal: Drs. Turelli and Long, sated. We forgot to order vegetables. . . . .
Manyuan, having spent most of his life in China, is naturally picky about Chinese food. In fact, Spring World is the only Chinese restaurant in Chicago where he’ll dine (the only better place is his own kitchen). I’m not quite as picky, and usually choose among three favorite places.