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DISH: SAVOR Imperial Lamian brunch
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-09-18

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From the moment you walk into Imperial Lamian ( 6 W. Hubbard St.; Imperial-Lamian.com ), it's obvious that it's a couple steps above the standard Chinese restaurant some of us patronized in our younger days.

The corner of Hubbard and State streets where Imperial Lamian is has been a site of changing restaurants, including Centro and Bar Umbriago. However, it seems that Lamian ( which has been around for at least a year ) has the chops ( pork and otherwise ) to stary around for a while—and a recent Sunday brunch proved the point. ( By the way, brunch is on weekends at 10 a.m.-4 p.m. )

Just one of the many highlights is watching head chef Wang Hong Jun pull noodles—seriously. In a manner that seemed simultaneously passionate and efficient, Wang constantly pulled on dough and created noodles the entire time ( two hours ) I was there. Personally, doing that would drive me crazy after 15 minutes—but I'm not the culinary artist Wang is.

And some of the dishes truly showcased artistry, courtesy of some of the other employees we could see in the open kitchen. For example, the pumpkin puffs ( with roast duck and butternut squash ) actually looked like miniature pumpkins, and were almost too visually appealing to consume.

Imperial Lamian offers an intriguing mix of menu options. Xiao long bao ( soup dumplings ) include varieties such as duck, crab ( the best of those we tried ), truffle and even Gruyere. Unfortunately, the aforementioned pumpkin puffs looked more enticing than they tasted—although, actually, it was a lack of taste my friend and I noticed.

However, things immediately picked up with the prawn toast and yang chaofan ( fried rice with Char Siu, tiger shrimp, asparagus and egg ). Also, trying one of the titular dishes ( in this case, pork-belly la mian/hand-pulled noodles ) turned out to be rewarding. As for drinks, don't expect even orange juice here for non-alchoholic items—options are limited to tea selections, sticking to the tradition the restaurant upholds. ( However, almost ironically, alcohol-related choices are many, including beer, wine, whiskey and sake. )

One other note: In the past, I ( being African-American ) have noticed that a true sign of the legitimacy of an ethnic restaurant can be reflected in the patrons—and, throughout most of our stay, my friend and I were the only non-Asian customers there ( something the owner discussed with us as well ). Try something different and have brunch here. You won't regret it.

Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.


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