Chicagoland’s cultural strength is built upon our diversity, and in few places is that diversity more evident than in our ethnic restaurants. With increasing inflows of immigrant groups, and with growing acceptance by the “native” population of these different peoples, we’ve never had a greater abundance of international food options in our greater Chicagoland neighborhood.

When I was a kid growing up in Elmhurst, Illinois, Chinese food meant one thing: chow mein or chop suey from the takeout place downtown. I liked it just fine.

Now, Chinese in Chicagoland can mean Cantonese, Sichuanese, Hunanese, Taiwanese, Singaporean and now…Dong bei, or northern Chinese-style cooking.

Last weekend, Carolyn and I had dinner with an old friend at Homestyle Taste, a restaurant specializing in the food of northeastern China.

We radically over-ordered, as is our way, but I’ll focus on just three items.

* Cabbage and Tofu was a beautifully light and tasty way to start the meal. With thin strips of tofu skin, virtually indistinguishable from the thin strips of cabbage it was mixed with, this starter was perked up with tiny bits of pepper in a delicate sauce that made us want to eat more…and so we did.

* The Cumin Lamb is a dish I’ve had at other Chinese places in Chinatown, and it is just a beautiful combination of flavors. Our server warned us it was “on the bone,” which is just fine as meat cooked with its bones seems to be tastier than meat cooked after its cut off the bone.

* Though we’d plowed through many dishes by the time the Smoked Pork Roll arrived, we finished all of these tender pork sandwiches, adorned only with some sliced scallions, simple and fully satisfying.

Homestyle Taste is not in Chinatown; it’s on Halsted, and it’s worth the drive. 

Homestyle Taste

3205 S Halsted St

Chicago, IL 60608

(312) 949-9328

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...