In the span of about two months, the Chinese street eat known as jianbing has gone from an unknown quantity to a certified smash amongst Loop lunchers. You have Nali to thank for that.
That’s the name of the upstart stall that’s been hitting the Nosh’s afternoon market since late July to serve up the mung bean and millet crepe, smeared with egg and herbs on one side then stuffed with crispy wonton crackers and either a meat or veggie filling on the other. A smattering of media attention from Chinese TV producers and local reporters turned it into quite the hot commodity—I've tried twice before to snag one for lunch, and they've been sold out both times.
Today, however, I finally managed to score some, thanks to some careful planning—by which I mean I left the office at 11 a.m. to ensure success. Even when arriving at 11:30, at least one crepe and one side (an Asian slaw) were unavailable, and crowds were already forming. So if you're interested in trying one out—which you should be—schedule an early lunch.
They look the same from above, but the crepe on the left is filled with ginger, wood ear mushrooms, and carrots, while the one on the right has super-savory pork belly, sweet plum soy sauce, and a little burn thanks to chili sauce. They're the kind of thing I can imagine myself craving in equal measure at 1 p.m. and 1 a.m. Each one runs for $8 and makes for a hearty, protein-packed meal—four hours later, I'm still satiated.
Your last opportunity to try for jianbing for the season, at least from Nosh's Riverside Plaza market, is next Friday. They're worth seeking out.
Just seek them out early.