Yu-Ton Dumpling House
Tucked off of Pasquinelli Drive is a gem of a spot: International Mall, where families flock to a central food court for brothy noodle bowls, potstickers and, on weekends, piles of airy, fresh-fried crullers. The sky-lit setting is nothing to write home about, but it's the pillowy numbers from Yu-Ton Dumpling House you come for. It's situated next to sibling Chinese Café (a source of soulful, spicy beef noodle soup); pick your pleasure from the menu - both the toothsome potstickers and tender boiled pork dumplings in spicy chile sauce fare well. Zap them with some self-serve vinegar and soy sauce from the counter, and you're in business.
Yu-Ton Dumpling House, 665 Pasquinelli Dr., Westmont, IL 60559 (map); 630-323-2329
At Good Children, a Pan-Asian spot two booths down, small, slippery Szechwan "purses" filled with chives and pork are another, if somewhat less satisfying, selection. Next time, I'll give its pho or chap chae a whirl. Before hitting the road, pop into Whole Grain Market in the building next door for Asian staples, hard-to-find, imported ingredients and fresh produce.
Spicy Beef Noodle Soup at Katy's Dumpling House
For a revelatory experience, though, nothing compares to Katy's Dumpling House down the road. Tucked into a multi-culti strip mall behind Jewel, it's a humble place turning out stellar homemade noodles. The star of the show in its incomparable, insidiously spicy beef noodle soup. Offset by hunks of garlic and chopped cilantro in fiery, burnished broth, it's the comfort food of my dreams.
Dumplings at Katy's Dumpling House
But the dumplings. Oh, the dumplings. They, too, are homemade, and it shows. From their tender pork filling stippled with course-chopped chives to the thoughtfully rendered dough encasing them, they're the epitome of heartwarming fare. While there, pay mind, too, to the translated, handwritten menu (soup dumplings may be a reward). And, from the picture menu above the counter, succumb to refreshing-meets-singeing Szechwan cold noodles, which are laced with ground pork and cucumbers.
Chengdu Dumplings at Lao Sze Chuan
Drive a mile further down the road arrive at the suburban outpost of Tony's Hu's Lao Sze Chuan. Always busy and never dull, the restaurant's encyclopedic menu is pretty much point and pick. But in my mind, a star of the show are the slick, chile-soused, sesame seed and chive-specked Chengdu dumplings (pictured left). And the beef noodle soup here (pictured right)? It's everything—soothing, brooding, tongue-tingling—a bowl should be.