The Food Guy Steve Dolinsky stops by Hawkers Delight in Wheeling – NBC Chicago

It’s rare to find Malaysian food in the Chicago area.

There are only one or two options in the city. That’s why Steve Dolinsky, host of NBC Chicago’s Food Guy, was pleasantly surprised to find a Malaysian family running a small restaurant in Wheeling.

Dolinsky recently paid HD Cuisine, HD Cuisine — HD stands for street vendor joy — a visit in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

His menu draws on the tradition of hawker stalls found throughout Malaysia, especially Singapore, which he visited a few years ago.

Hawker kiosks are everywhere in Singapore. We used to call them food courts in the United States, but in Malaysia, they’re basically street cart vendors taken to their homes, and they’re regulated by the government. Dumplings, curry laksa, and Hainanese chicken rice are among the most popular offerings.

In Wheeling, the hard-to-find restaurant is more of a kitchen than a dining room, but the family behind it cooks with passion, just like at home.

“It’s a mix of Chinese and Malay. It’s South Indian influenced and a little bit Thai influenced and a mix of Chinese together,” said owner Lin Randazzo.

Rendang, or soup, is the basis of nasi lemak.

“Nasi Lemak is the national dish of Malaysia. The word ‘rendang’ means soup…”

It can be chicken or fish, but here they serve chicken.

“…And there are five different spices in there: lemongrass, onion, fresh turmeric, and star anise,” she said.

The butterfly pea flower, or blue tea leaf, dyes the rice a brilliant color. It is then served with peanuts and anchovies.

Satay skewers are familiar, but they’re not like the Thai versions you might have had because of the marinade.

“Malaysian satay is different. Our peanut sauce is also different from Thai,” she said.

Pasta is clearly popular here; Take Hokkien mee.

“Hokkien mee is made by the indigenous people of Penang; In your mouth you feel the texture of two types of pasta.

This is a result of both egg noodles and rice, both immersed in a delicious shrimp broth. Rice noodles are more widely used in Char Kway Teow, a cousin of the Thai version, but cooked with eggs, shrimp and pork.

“These rice noodles are very smoky, not sweet, just salty and salty,” Randazzo said.

For dessert, try the colorful kueh – steamed or baked – sweetened with coconut milk and sometimes served with fragrant pandan, a hard-to-describe type of Asian floral vanilla.

“In the old days, I used to see my grandmother smoking kuih all the time. The rainbow layer we call kuih lapis lazuli. It’s like yum,” she said.

HD Cuisine is quite huge considering the small space – only two tables. But the chef is constantly adding new items, so you’ll never get the same thing twice.

Here’s where you can go:

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