Serious Snacks: Lumpia Shanghai at Unimart
For a city/metro area with 9,000,000+ people, Chicago has a dearth of good egg rolls. You can find great Szechuan braised tendon, head-on salt and pepper shrimp, and a celebration of the diverse fungal bounty of Yunnan province down in Chinatown, but a personal dynasty's length search for sublime crisp deep-fried won ton skin pockets in this same 'hood have turned up nothing.
Instead, I have to turn to the Filipino Uni-Mart grocery on the northside for my fix. Ford the stainless steel shelves filled with salty and sweet shrimp and squid chips and you'll be rewarded with a take-out counter filled with pork glazed in thick syrupy adobo; orange laquered barbecue chicken; beefy, brothy oxtail-studded kare-kare, and a host of Filipino favorites. The object of my affection, though, is the golden fried Philly bluntsize lumpia Shanghai filled with moist pork. Snap one open and a garlicky perfume that roils about your nostrils should take care of any vampire infestations you might have.
As much as I love to cook, my annual holiday party usually requires mis en place for 50, which means the culinary army of one that is me usually limits the homemade goods to two or three passed hor d'ouevres. The lumpia is one of my standbys for filling out the rest of the menu. Last year I bought 150 rolls, and they were gone in the first hour.
Address: 5845 N. Clark, Chicago IL 60660 (map)