Chicago | Illinois

Whenever I meet someone from Chicago, I’d excitedly tell them I was born there. And that’s really all I knew about it for a long time. Even though I was born in the suburbs of Chicago, my family moved back to Taiwan when I was only two years old. Places looked familiar in old pictures, but I didn’t remember anything about the city.

It wasn’t until my best friend, Jerod, went to school and settled there that I had a reason to visit as an adult. Since then, I’ve formed many wonderful memories in this city: eating take-out toro with fries at McDonald’s, Bulls vs Celtics game with good old Shaq, meeting new people, playing video games all night.

As Jerod and I get older, we get together less and less as life gets busy. When we do get a chance to see each other, it’s like I’m in middle school again, playing video games in the basement, reading comics for hours, or watching Stephen Chow movies. It’s funny how some things never change, no matter how many years go by.

Recommended Stops (map):

  • Wendella Architecture Boat Tour: Narrated tour down the river to see all the architecture of Chicago. Our tour guide was really funny and knowledgeable. We had a great time and learned a good deal about the history of Chicago.
  • Shedd Aquarium: We like aquariums because they have two of Tiffany’s favorites: penguins and jellyfish! This one has quite a lot of exhibits and is worth checking out.

Good Eats:

  • Au Cheval: Famous for the burger, but everything was really good. We got the cheeseburger, roasted bone marrow, omelette with roasted peppers, and the foie gras scrambled eggs. The foie gras scrambled eggs was super rich and flavorful–a very unique dish. The burger was really good too, but this was brunch and starting with super fatty bone marrow overwhelmed our taste buds from the get-go.
  • Pequod’s Pizza: Have to get some deep dish pizza since we’re in Chicago. We packed our pizza full of meat and it was awesome. The meat, cheese, and sauce just blend together into a mixture of deliciousness. The pizza does take a while to make, so we got some cheesy garlic bread and wings for our appetizer.
  • Molly’s Cupcakes: This cute little cupcake shop has some of the most unique and tasty cupcakes I’ve ever seen. I don’t usually like cupcakes because they’re all the same to me, just with different flavor batter or icing. However, these cupcakes are really something else. Our favorite by far was the Crème brûlée cupcake with custard filling and caramelized sugar. It tastes just like a Crème brûlée.
  • Monteverde: We came here with a group of six, which was great because all the pasta dishes are great for sharing. Our favorites were the gnocchetti con pesto and the ragu alla napoletana. This place is very popular. We came without a reservation and waited an hour, so if you can, make reservations ahead of time.
  • Phoenix (Dim Sum): BBQ Pork Pineapple bun, where have you been all my life! Sweet pineapple crust over a soft fluffy bun with savory BBQ pork inside. We were distraught knowing we wouldn’t be able to find it in San Diego. Tiffany loved it so much she got mad at me because we didn’t bring any back on our flight. Our lives have been changed forever.
  • McDonald’s Global Menu Restaurant: The McDonald’s at their headquarters serves a rotation of international items. From cheese & bacon fries to greek salad, it’s interesting to see what international items exists. Pretty cool but it’s still McDonald’s at the end of the day, so manage expectations accordingly.
  • Qing Xiang Yuan: Very unique dumpling restaurant that has so many different kind of fillings, from the classic pork & cabbage, pork & shrimp, to lamb & coriander. Dumplings can be either boiled, steamed, or pan-fried. They make suggestions based on the filling. You’ll like this place if you like dumplings. Even Tiffany liked it and she hates dumplings.