Serious Eats: Chicago
Reconsidering Ed's Potsticker House in Chicago
You'd think a place named Ed's Potsticker House would have great potstickers, but you'd be wrong. They're actually kind of the chewy and underseasoned, and my guess is Serious Eats founder Ed Levine could make better "Ed's Potstickers" at home with one hand tied behind his back. But that's the charm of Ed's, a Northern Chinese spot, which requires not so much as a secret handshake or a golden key to unlock its glory, but rather a good bit of persistence to patiently work your way through the War and Peace-sized menu.
Consider that Ed's was recently featured on Chicago's popular Check, Please! restaurant review show and none of the folks (save the person who recommended it) who ate there picked any of the great dishes and, consequently, none of them actually liked it. Some part of me is okay with this, as Check, Please! is well-watched, and if everyone likes a restaurant on the show, that place inevitably ends up swamped with customers. The hubbub eventually dies down, but sometimes the old regulars get fed up with the swarm and don't come back. The restaurant consequently suffers a grim fate, or at least a middling existence thereafter.
Although I dine there quite a bit, I'm not exactly the chief patron of the place. They're entitled to whatever success they can achieve, as are all the "hidden gems" that get outed on Check Please. But, with Ed's getting dissed recently, I started to worry: Would they be okay? Do they have enough customers to ensure I'll be flush with the slightly charred sesame crusted C636 Cumin Flavor Lamb with Bone forever?
Just to be sure, I wanted to assure Chicagoans that Ed's is awesome and they shouldn't believe everything they see on TV. In addition to C636, you also want C009, the pan fried smoked pork cake, a crispy bubbly scallion pancake filled with crispy pork belly touched with a little maple sweetness, and C512, sweet glazed eggplant smothered in garlic sauce that is basically vegetable candy. I'm sure there are others, but only time and long tastings will tell. After all, the menu at Ed's has 150 or so items listed, and dishes numbered as high as 820. On second thought, maybe there is a secret handshake after all to get at the 700 other dishes...hmmm.
Ed's Potsticker House
3139 South Halsted Street, Chicago IL 60608 (map)