I’ve always wanted to do a write up on Chi Cafe and say ch-ch-ch-chi-a! Located in Chinatown’s square, it’s a delightful place to eat and has an interesting history. Correct me if I’m wrong, but word on the street goes like this: apparently, some folks from the famous Ken Kee restaurant in Chinatown square decided to open up a new place… called Chi Cafe. That’s why the food is pretty decent. However, an influx of people decided to leave Chi Cafe and open up another place called… do you know which restaurant I’m talking about? 🙂 Ponder that while you read on.
My fellow diners and I came during their happy hour. If my memory is right, correct me if I’m wrong, happy hour is 2:30pm-6:00pm, every day. During this time, you can order from their happy hour menu which has some great deals. For $3.95, you get a medium/small-ish entrée and a drink! Good deal!
There’s also a tea time menu, which I’ve never ordered from, but it seems like it has dishes of pastries and barbeque. $4.25 for a dish and a drink! Another good deal. Anyone have this? It sounds good.
Unfortunately, Chi Cafe has also jumped on the “we also serve Thai food” bandwagon that most Asian restaurants seem to be harking.
We ordered 3 dishes off the happy hour menu. This was the beef brisket flat rice noodle soup. We’ve ordered this before, but felt that this time around, the broth was a bit lacking and the beef was chewier than before. The noodles were a little soggy, but ok.
The zong zi aka Chinese tamale was also all right. Nothing too great to report on. The rice was sticky and the meat filling was ok, not the best. Perhaps it’s better to buy the zong zi from the neighboring Chinese bakeries instead.
A close up of the zong zi. Some shredded pork, Chinese sausage, some unidentifiable bits and of course, glutinous rice make up this zong zi.
A solid favorite of mine, the salt and pepper female caplin fish dish served on a piece of lettuce. The dish also comes with some fried sliced peppers and green onions, which tastes great with the fish. I thought this dish served up less fish than the previous times I’ve ordered this.
With these 3 happy hour orders comes drinks. We ordered 1 hot milk tea and 2 cold lemon teas. On the menu, there’s a .75 charge for a cold beverage, but for some odd reason, we’re never charged that. But this time around, we were charged for an extra bowl of rice. Odd. The hot milk tea was served a little different this time too. Usually, it was served in a metal mug and gave the tea a funny metallic after taste. Now the milk tea tastes much better in a paper cup, but don’t forget to add sugar!
The cold lemon tea comes in a plastic cup and has a plentiful amount of sliced lemons inside. It’s slightly sweeten and is refreshing to drink, especially on a hot day. And as always, if you want it sweetened, you can add more sugar.
Lastly, we ordered the sizzling beef tenderloin in sweet saki sauce. BE is big on this dish, especially the meat. And it is indeed, sizzling. It comes on a hot platter and with plenty of brown sauce. It’s a delicious dish, especially with rice, but at double the happy hour special at $8.50.
While the happy hour specials were a bit of lacking this time around, it still has a lot of value. There’s tons of items on the menu to choose from so a return visit to here is always on my mind.
2160-A S. Archer Avenue
Chicago IL 60616