A few weeks had passed since I found myself in a Chicago eatery with camera in hand, appetite at hand, and my usual, incredible want of something to fill my belly. One week of Lisbon, Portugal, and the Atlantic Coast in Portugal and another week in London, Cardiff, Oxford, and Cambridge had all usurped my time — and I allowed it with glee — and I missed Chicago. Architecture, culture, activity, festivals, and food all make this great city worthy of boasting privileges. And with so many options from which to choose, I was certain to find something to tide me over while I recovered from my jet lag. The thing is with jet lag, you do not always think logically, which means you sometimes settle for what is convenient. Sure enough, that is what I decided to do today.
I had a taste for something different, something I had made a rule to avoid — unless an old friend’s parents were the ones cooking it. That would be Chinese food. Aahhhhhh!!!! I went into the Loop to one of Chicago’s chain restaurants named Wow Bao, which is at 1 W. Wacker Drive. Moderate in size, fanciful with the seating, and always some lounge music playing in the background, Wow Bao was my passing ground for something to tickle my taste buds. I ordered a rice bowl — a Thai curry chicken rice bowl — consisting of ground chicken, Thai spices, scallions, cilantro, and jasmine rice. Yes, yes, yes, said with eyes rolling about in my head. I also had two bao, which are Asian buns and the decent kind for those with minds that linger way out into left field. These were steamed buns of the vegetarian sort, stuffed with celery, onions, carrots, and bean sprouts. Yes, no, yes, yes, said with head in palm of hand and shaking it without any remorse for my personal display of food satisfaction at my outdoor seat. I washed it all down with a cup of cold raspberry hibiscus tea that was sweetened naturally, and let me be the first to say that it was smashing to have something that was not loaded with sugar and still sweet enough that back of my jaw did not scream.
As mentioned earlier, Wow Bao is a chain restaurant with several locations in Chicago proper. I am sure there are several other locations dotted all over the rest of Chicagoland and maybe even outside of the Chicago vicinity and Illinois. It is a great change from the expected Kung Pao chicken, beef with broccoli, orange chicken, and common Chinese fair. While the rice bowls are primarily for sit-down dining, the buns are perfect street food that you can eat while on the go. With your choice of indoor seating, outdoor seating, and reasonable prices, Wow Bao is one for the appeasement of the appetite and fitting within the budget. Once I am done recovering from my return trip abroad, I may have to get some more stuffed, hot Asian buns. That would be of the decent kind, though.