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MCCB - Modern Chinese Cook Book

MCCB - Modern Chinese Cook Book
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  • MCCB - Modern Chinese Cook Book

    Post #1 - March 22nd, 2018, 12:22 pm
    Post #1 - March 22nd, 2018, 12:22 pm Post #1 - March 22nd, 2018, 12:22 pm
    MCCB has been mentioned a couple of times on the site but definitely deserves it's own thread. I made my first but not last visit last week. Based on that one experience, thanks to some sensational highlights, I feel pretty confident declaring that it's in the top tier of Chinese restaurants in Chicago.

    The restaurant has both Cantonese and Sichuan food, though it seems to tilt towards the latter. Much of our order was guided by this blog post from a seemingly knowledgeable transplant from the the glorious bastion of Chinese food that is the San Gabriel Valley.

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    We started with mixed results from two noodle dishes, Dan Dan Noodle and Pig Oil Green Onion Cold Noodle. The noodles themselves were too soft and the kitchen definitely held back on the chili on the Dan Dan Noodles, a precaution we assured them was unnecessary and was fixed on later dishes. The pig oil noodles were really great as long as you appreciate the taste of lard. I'd order those again despite the textural problems.

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    We loved the eggplant with spicy garlic sauce. There were five adults in our group and we regretted not getting two of these instead of balancing out our veggie dishes with a Napa Cabbage dish with dried shrimp that was perfectly fine but nothing special. The eggplant was one of three table favorites of the night.

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    Our server did us a massive favor by choosing this dish for us. I'm pretty sure it's listed on the menu as Spicy Tender Tofu with Flank Steak. The hot and spicy broth was loaded with the silkiest tofu I can remember eating along with surprisingly tender slices of flank steak. We ate all of the tofu and meat but the soup itself was so good that I 'm still kicking myself for not taking the leftovers home just to pour over a big bowl of rice/tofu/anything sitting in my fridge.

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    The mapo tofu, while not quite as numbing as some bowls out there, was a very good rendition.

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    The final star of the night was this Chinese Sour Pickle Fish. This whole fish, dropped post-cooking in a giant bowl of tangy soup with a bed of picked vegetables at the bottom, was a must-order dish.

    The restaurant is BYOB with no corkage fees. Reservations are accepted and, at least on Saturday nights, seem advisable. The only warning I'd give is that you may want to make clear that you don't want the Sichuan spices dumbed down as that was a problem early in our meal before we spoke up. At the same time, people not into spice or whose appreciation of Chinese food only includes items available at Panda Express have plenty of choices at MCCB. I'm not ashamed to say I was among the adults who stole at least half of the sesame chicken we ordered for the kids.

    MCCB
    2138 S Archer Ave
    Chicago, IL
    (312) 881-0168
    mccbchicago.com
  • Post #2 - March 22nd, 2018, 12:44 pm
    Post #2 - March 22nd, 2018, 12:44 pm Post #2 - March 22nd, 2018, 12:44 pm
    Wow - I must have missed the mentions but this place just vaulted to the top of my must try list. Thanks for sharing.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #3 - March 22nd, 2018, 2:27 pm
    Post #3 - March 22nd, 2018, 2:27 pm Post #3 - March 22nd, 2018, 2:27 pm
    BR wrote:Wow - I must have missed the mentions but this place just vaulted to the top of my must try list. Thanks for sharing.


    It’s really quite good. It’s owned by the same people as GNR Nominee New China Station, but it’s a bit more upscale than NCS.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #4 - March 26th, 2018, 11:55 am
    Post #4 - March 26th, 2018, 11:55 am Post #4 - March 26th, 2018, 11:55 am
    This is where my personal Hu favorte Lao Beijing was, and the excellent fish with sour pickle is a carryover that hits the spot in the same way. The spicy tender tofu with flank steak - enough for about five people for $16 - is also very familiar to the Lao "boiled" red oil preparations. The appetizers are the game changers for me, including perfectly fried butterflied dry chili prawns and greaseless egg rolls. The freezing okra is delightful, and I think there are few possible meals out there featuring both wasabi (or even Chinese mustard) and Szechuan peppercorns, and the interaction of those and ice on the palate across a full table is really fun. Service is super and while I think most of the prices reflect a 33% premium over neighboring spots I think it's worth it, especially for the generosity of the entrees (while the appetizer portions are small).
  • Post #5 - April 15th, 2018, 8:58 pm
    Post #5 - April 15th, 2018, 8:58 pm Post #5 - April 15th, 2018, 8:58 pm
    Very favorable showing for our first visit. Our last visit to lsc, they were firing on all cylinders, and possibly had some turbo boosters, so our expectations of "better than lsc" were not met. HOWEVER, we know that lsc does not fire on all cylinders all of the time.

    Mccb' s Dan dan:
    Noodles were stupid. Everything else was excellent. Loved the flavor, loved the ma la. Can't they BUY some homemade noodles?

    We ordered a wood roasted steak with garlic sauce hot pot thingy. Not impressed, BUT, we didn't choose the ma-la flavor. A few in our group were scared of the possible heat. We all agreed we'd get the ma-la next time.

    The eggplant spicy garlic was a touch sweeter than I expected, still really good. We all enjoyed it.

    The spicy tofu with flank steak, tho.
    Daaaayyuuummmm. That was some bomb ass food right there. Gimme that bowl with some hand pulled noodles, a few cold beers and an oversized recliner on football Sunday every week! We were fighting over that.

    We dug this place just fine.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #6 - April 21st, 2018, 11:28 am
    Post #6 - April 21st, 2018, 11:28 am Post #6 - April 21st, 2018, 11:28 am
    MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:
    Our server did us a massive favor by choosing this dish for us. I'm pretty sure it's listed on the menu as Spicy Tender Tofu with Flank Steak. The hot and spicy broth was loaded with the silkiest tofu I can remember eating along with surprisingly tender slices of flank steak. We ate all of the tofu and meat but the soup itself was so good that I 'm still kicking myself for not taking the leftovers home just to pour over a big bowl of rice/tofu/anything sitting in my fridge.


    After my first taste, I knew I would not make that mistake. I brought home the broth, and grilled up a few extra lamb chops for leftovers from dinner specifically for the broth. Let em soak in that stuff in the fridge overnight, and just barely warmed it up, and threw it on some rice. Holy balls was that good.

    Honestly, They could sell that broth. I know I'd buy it. A LOT.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #7 - June 12th, 2018, 11:58 am
    Post #7 - June 12th, 2018, 11:58 am Post #7 - June 12th, 2018, 11:58 am
    The menu has some interesting quirks, and it does not provide a lot of information to adventurous eaters who speak only English. FWIW, I asked MCCB what "Szechuan Diving Style" means and got a quick and cheerful response:

    "This is a very interesting question^^
    This Specific name are coming from a dish call “跳水牛蛙” “Tiao Shui Niu Wa” Meaning the Frog is diving in to the water. I know must of the people might just name it something like “Frog Boiled in Special Spicy Sze Chuan Sauce”"

    I am not sure I know more now than before, but I have a great mental image of a dish I definitely will order when I visit (for the first time). :)
  • Post #8 - June 17th, 2018, 12:52 pm
    Post #8 - June 17th, 2018, 12:52 pm Post #8 - June 17th, 2018, 12:52 pm
    Return visit last night was every bit as good as the first. Go ahead and add whole fish boiled in spicy Szechuan sauce to the list of home runs at MCCB.

    The Signature Dry Chili Fried Soft Tofu was good, but they looked enough like cheese curds that I couldn't help but be disappointed. The vegetarian in our group was a big fan of these.

    I noticed on my way out that hot pot was wildly popular among other diners. It's normally not high on my list but given the near universal popularity, it's something to think about for the next visit.
  • Post #9 - August 12th, 2018, 9:26 pm
    Post #9 - August 12th, 2018, 9:26 pm Post #9 - August 12th, 2018, 9:26 pm
    Deliciously numbing lunch today of freezing okra, Cheng Du spicy dumplings, dry chili calamari, spicy tender tofu with flank steak, and Szechuan style gan guo chicken, and a couple of Tsingtao beers. As in an above post, we gave the green light to up the spice after the dumplings. We would happily order any of these dishes again, or try an entirely new collection to explore more of the menu.
  • Post #10 - August 13th, 2018, 12:44 pm
    Post #10 - August 13th, 2018, 12:44 pm Post #10 - August 13th, 2018, 12:44 pm
    Smassey wrote:Deliciously numbing lunch today of freezing okra, Cheng Du spicy dumplings, dry chili calamari, spicy tender tofu with flank steak, Szechuan style gan guo chicken, & a couple Tsingtao beers.

    I also went to MCCB yesterday, my second time picking up from them in about a 10-day stretch.

    The "Cheng Du Spicy Dumplings" (not to be confused w/ CDS Wontons) were a major force bringing me back ASAP. I love how the slight sweetness of the sauce seeps into the perfectly thick wrapper.
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    MCCB Chengdu Spicy Dumplings

    I gave their "Sweet & Spicy Beef Shumai" a try, but they were nothing special, just standard issue thin wrapper shumai (not bad).

    In addition to my standard inclusion of Dan Dan Noodles (i actually meant to try their sesame noodles, but said Dan Dan out of habit when ordering), I got the Spicy Szechuan Sauce Boiled Fish Fillet. Very good item, but this thread has reminded me to state "full spice" on future orders as it was nowhere near being too hot.

    Sesame Noodles and Spicy Tender Tofu w/ Flank Steak have my name on them. Great place. Once-every-10-days-at-a-minimum good.
  • Post #11 - October 12th, 2018, 12:23 pm
    Post #11 - October 12th, 2018, 12:23 pm Post #11 - October 12th, 2018, 12:23 pm
    Thanks for putting this back on my radar, menu has lots of interesting looking stuff.
  • Post #12 - November 17th, 2018, 1:01 pm
    Post #12 - November 17th, 2018, 1:01 pm Post #12 - November 17th, 2018, 1:01 pm
    Not the best experience for me at MCCB a couple of weeks ago. On the plus side, I liked the comfortable, modern dining room and the service was very good. But the food didn't excite me so much.

    First, the beef and maw. Tasty yes, but the maw was a bit undercooked for my tastes and thus really chewy and difficult to eat. I have much preferred this dish at several other local restaurants, most recent in memory Peppercorns in Evanston.

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    As for the dan dan noodles, I'll echo MarlaCollins'Husband's thoughts-the noodles were too soft, the flavor a little bland and definitely on the drier side and requiring some fiery, porky oil. It was fine I suppose, but I would not order it again.

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    The dry chili chicken was also a bit of a letdown. I liked the flavor enough I suppose, though I wish it had been spicier. But the real problem is that it was missing that crispness that really elevates the dish. In fact, the peppers in the dish were so soft and chewy such that you really couldn't eat them. And when not cooked enough or at a high enough temperature, you don't get the smokiness that the peppers deliver when cooked properly.

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    From the mala section of the menu, we ordered the lamb. As far as flavor goes, I enjoyed the dish and the heat it delivered. And the lamb was cooked very nicely. But my problem with the dish was with how poorly everything was cut - very uneven cuts, many pieces (lamb & vegetable) that were simply too big, particularly given that diners are using chopsticks and not knives and forks. So while I enjoyed the flavor, I was really disappointed with the sloppy preparation.

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    My favorite dish of the night was the vegetable side of Chinese lettuce (AA choy), which the server recommended over other vegetable sides. The greens were cooked beautifully, there was a nice but not overpowering garlic flavor, and it was really one of the best orders of greens I've ever had.

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    Just like MarlaCollins'Husband, I noticed that almost every other table was simply ordering hot pot, which made my friend and I wonder whether we were really missing MCCB's specialty. If I return, that will definitely be my route.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #13 - November 17th, 2018, 7:04 pm
    Post #13 - November 17th, 2018, 7:04 pm Post #13 - November 17th, 2018, 7:04 pm
    BR wrote:Just like MarlaCollins'Husband, I noticed that almost every other table was simply ordering hot pot, which made my friend and I wonder whether we were really missing MCCB's specialty. If I return, that will definitely be my route.


    Spicy Tender Tofu With Flank.
    Before anyone dismisses MCCB, I think they should try it. If you don't like beef or tofu, it's obv not a good idea, but whatever that sauce is, it's lip smackin' good.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #14 - November 22nd, 2018, 2:40 pm
    Post #14 - November 22nd, 2018, 2:40 pm Post #14 - November 22nd, 2018, 2:40 pm
    While the tofu and beef dish is good, IMO if you want to see MCCB at its best, get the sour pickle charcoal fish and add vermicelli at the least, though I like lotus root and choy sum as well. This is an amazing dish. Sometime I even get a second helping of noodles to soak up the delicious juice.

    I don't think MCCB is actually a very good Sichuan place overall. I would rather go to Szechuan Cuisine or, lately, JMC Szechuan for my staples of the cuisine. But that sour pickle fish is one of a kind.

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