Convince Us: North Side Chinese Food Edition (The Results)
By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Aug 23, 2007 6:00PM
A few weeks ago, we came to you with a problem; we wanted to eat some delicious Chinese food, but didn't want to travel south of the Loop to find it. Based on your comments we decided to check out Friendship Chinese in Logan Square. The night we were planning on heading there was on the rainy and gross side of things, so we opted to order in.
We ordered the vegetarian spring rolls to start. When we pulled them out of the styrofoam container they were in, we were pleasantly surprised to find the outside wrapper perfectly crisp. The filling had a variety of vegetables in it, including cabbage and mushrooms (we think — difficult to tell when everything is all chopped and mixed up). Our meal was off to a good start!
Since there were three of us, it seemed reasonable to order three entrees of various types that we could share family style. Our order included sesame chicken, shrimp lo mein and "curried tofu tofu," which interestingly enough had three, not two, types of tofu in it. The sesame chicken was described as being tossed in "caramelized sesame soy glaze," aka sweet gloppy sauce. The chicken itself was white meat, and lightly fried to give it just enough crunch without turning it into something you might find at a country fair. This dish had some good aspects to it, particularly the chicken itself, but we found the sauce cloyingly sweet and lacking any significant sesame flavor.
The shrimp lo mein we tried came with a good number of medium-sized shrimp as well as some long strips of vegetables. The sauce was more flavorful than we expected, darker somehow than a standard lo mein, and with more flavor too. And we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the oil we were expecting to see pooled in the bottom of the take-out container was nowhere to be found. Either we'd eaten all the grease, or there wasn't any to begin with.
The third dish, curried tofu tofu was delicious, but it didn't taste very Chinese; with the coconut milk and lemon grass curry sauce, this dish leaned much more to the Thai side of Asian cuisine than the Chinese. And yes, it is our own fault for ordering something with curry in it at a Chinese restaurant. That being said, this was the most interesting dish of the night; it featured five-spice tofu, regular tofu, and tofu sheets with a mix of mushrooms and peppers in a tart and flavorful curry broth. We appreciated this innovative take on tofu in curry sauce.
So where does this leave us? Friendship was pretty delicious. We weren't wowed by the food, but everything we ate tasted good and there were no ill effects on our system. Like some of the commenters, we had some sticker shock. Dinner for three came to about $50, which in the grand scheme of things isn't high, but for Chinese take-out, seems a little pricey. Keep checking back over the next month or so, as we visit more of the restaurants you previously suggested in our epic journey to find the best Chinese on the north side.
Photo by Olivia Leigh.