Are you afraid of visiting Chinatown? I meet many folks from different cities who say that Chinatown is scary or intimidating. But, why? Perhaps it’s that most Chinatown neighborhoods have so many restaurants and shops in very close proximity to each other. Or, maybe, the fact that there are so many signs in Chinese, Korean or other Asian languages is off-putting. Some folks fear crime (I think they watch too many bad movies!). Whatever the reason, one thing I hear all the time from people is that they would never consider going to Chinatown solo.
Me? I love the fact that I live so close to Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. It’s such an interesting and fun place to meander around, while exploring various types Asian cuisine and culture without a passport. Last Friday, I headed over to MingHin Cuisine for a lovely solo lunch.
MingHin is located just a couple of blocks west of the Cermak-Chinatown ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Red Line and the McCormick Place ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Green Line. The #62 Archer bus will take you directly there as well.
The focus here is on Cantonese cuisine and they have a fabulous dim sum service. Since I was dining alone, I decided to leave the many dim sum options for a return visit with a few friends. That way, I can justify ordering several items at once 🙂
Here’s how my lunch went down:
I arrived at 1pm and MingHin was packed. I was greeted immediately with a smile and asked how many people were in my party. When I mentioned that I was a party of one and that I would like to sit by a window, the host did not balk at all. He swiftly eyeballed the available table options in this rather large space and escorted me to a large window booth.
I really appreciate it when a restaurant welcomes solo diners without stuffing us in a dim corner 🙂
In less than a minute, my server appeared and helped me through the large menu and specials. Since I was committed to eating strictly vegetarian that day, I began with this spicy Szechuan eggplant dish with sweet and hot peppers which comes with a side of white rice. Usually, Minghin makes it with some ground pork. However, they were more than happy to leave it out for me.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a really good version of this eggplant dish and MingHin’s really satisfied my craving. It was delicious. The eggplant was cooked perfectly. So often when restaurants attempt Szechuan eggplant, they overcook it, until it’s a pile of mush. MingHin got it right! It will become a staple for me here.
Next, I decided to get my protein on by ordering a simple, pan-seared tofu in soy sauce. My server explained that I would have to wait 10-15 minutes for this dish because they make it “to-order.” This was a very good sign. It informed me that I was not getting some stale tofu dish like so many busy Chinese restaurants prepare in advance. When it hit the table, I was not disappointed. The tofu was medium-firm and perfectly crispy on top. The soy sauce was the perfect seasoning. This tofu dish was a great follow-up to the super spicy eggplant, as it helped to cool down my palate.
The space at MingHin is huge, bright and decorated very nicely. A departure from the typical plain digs at many Chinatown joints, regardless of the city.
MingHin was awarded the 2016 Michelin Bib Gourmand distinction which means that it is budget-friendly. This fact should keep your wallet happy 🙂
Overall, this was a really yummy and comfortable solo dining experience. MingHin took very good care of me and made me feel most welcome 🙂 I felt perfectly safe all by myself 🙂
MingHin Cuisine is located at 2168 S. Archer Avenue. It is open 7 days a week from 8am – 2am. There is new location near Grant Park at 333 E. Benton Place. Click here for more information.
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.