July 17, 2021 Foodie Tour!

On our first day in Chicago, we had Hong Kong Dim Sum, the second day we had classic Chicago deep dish so for our third day we had to get Sichuan Hot Pot so we went to one of the fanciest hot pot places in Chicago, Haidilao Hot pot.  Haidilao is a chain of Hot pot restaurants originating in China.  Holly and Olivia had gone to the one in Chengdu China and raved about the service there.  Apparently, in China they had free childcare and free manicures while you were waiting for your table.  They also had robot servers and people doing a noodle show at your table.

The robot server was more functional than cute.

The Chicago Haidilao had no free childcare or manicures but they did have free snacks and drinks in the waiting area.  There was no wait so we quickly went up to our table with every staff greeting us as we passed them. Most hot pot restaurants give you the option of a single soup flavor or a split pot with two soup flavors.  Haidilao offers a pot split up into four sections so you can get four different soup options. 

The food was all presented very elegantly.
They gave us aprons to wear so our clothes would not get dirty.

The base soup pot was quite pricey though at over $22-26 for the pot itself depending on how many soup options you choose.  We ordered a standard selection of meats and vegetables and after a while a robot cart showed up with our food although a human waitress had to take the food from the cart to our table.  There has been a nationwide shortage of restaurant workers and it seemed that Haidilao must have been affected too because the service was just average with our waitress rushing between servicing several tables.  The noodle show was impressive though with a cook bringing a dough to your table and spinning and twirling the dough into noodles right at your table.  If you every go to Haidilao be sure to order the dancing noodles as it was the most fun thing they offer.

The flying noodle maker is really the best part
The best thing about Hailidao were the “Flying Noodles” where they make noodles right at your table.

The sauce bar is an extra cost but also a must since they do have an extensive selection of sauces and some appetizers. In total, lunch for the three of us cost over $125 so it was a definite splurge and at twice the price of other excellent hot pot chains such as the all you can eat Happy Sheep Hot Pot chain I am not sure I would recommend Haidilao in the US.  Frankly for twice the price of other similar restaurants I would expect a free manicure.

Walking back to the train station we came upon an impromptu scooter trick riding gathering.  A couple hundred people were gathered watching young men doing tricks on their push scooters, often falling but just as often succeeding in their jumps and tricks.  At some mysterious signal the gathering suddenly broke up, everyone going on their way and we continued on back to Rover too.

The great thing about big cities is that there is always something going on like this trick scooter meetup.

We returned to Rover to do some schooling and have a rest and as the sun started to set we went out again, this time just walking a few blocks to West Taylor Street.  Taylor Street is a little shopping and restaurant street in the Little Italy area, right next to the University of Illinois, Chicago.  We were not very hungry due to our big lunch so didn’t really have any plans other than a nice evening stroll when we came upon Kurimu, an ice cream shop with a line out the door serving Instagram worthy ice cream.  They had soft serve in various flavors and colors with Olivia getting an orange and blue swirl.  They also had ice cream cones in four different flavors and colors and so we also got a mango ice cream with a red strawberry cone. 

Chicago had soo much delicious food!

In the next block we found Al’s #1 Italian Beef sandwich restaurant.  A regular on TV shows such as the Food Network, Today Show, Travel Network and social media, Al’s has been making Italian Beef sandwiches in Chicago for 82 years.  Their specialty is the Italian Beef sandwich which is a rather simple sandwich of very thinly sliced beef on a roll, with optional peppers and onions.  The main difference is that an Italian Beef sandwich is dipped in the beef sauce so that the bread soaks up the natural juices of the beef, making for a soft, wet and very flavorful sandwich.  We found it to be a very tasty sandwich and it will definitely be on our list to try again next time we are in Chicago. 

Al’s #1 Italian Beef is famous for its overstuffed soaking wet beef sandwiches.

After Al’s we wandered down the street a bit more before stopping by Mario’s Italian Lemonade shop.  Unlike Kurimu, Mario’s is a small, simple lemonade stand, nothing fancy or cute.  However, it has been serving Chicago for almost 70 years and has a variety of delicious flavors.  Their Lemonade is actually sort of a Italian ice slushy, we tried the POG flavor (Passion Fruit, Orange, Guava) and it was delicious, soft and fruity and at only $4 for a 12 oz. medium, reasonably priced. 

Mario’s Italian Lemonade came in dozens of flavors and all were delicious!

Our evening stroll had turned in to a food tour of some of Chicago’s best food and we were very satisfied as we returned to Rover for the night.

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