PACKing a Punch: PACKED Dumplings
Locally sourced ingredients, seasonally adjusted menu, almost entirely organic produce. Oh and the plates and utensils are composted to boot. All in Hyde Park, a few minutes walk from your dorm. Replacing Edwardo's Pizza on 57th St. is PACKED, a new fast-casual dumpling restaurant. The hype was so great that when it opened a week ago, it promptly had to close at 5pm because the dumplings sold out so quickly. The vibe is very Brooklyn ethical consumer with exposed brick walls painted a cheery bright blue, coconut milk and pure cane syrup offered next to the filtered tap water, and spot on mellow indie-pop music choices.
On offering are a variety of dumplings with expertly paired fillings, open sandwiches and fresh takes on classic sides. The dumplings come two for $4 or five for $9 and are the size of a child's fist. The dumpling itself is soft and slightly chewy while the inside is full of surprises. The braised short rib is tender and almost sweet in contrast with the sour horseradish cream and crunchy chives that top it all off. Meanwhile, the butternut squash ones are rich and creamy with a slight bitter kick from the balsamic sauce drizzled lightly across.
The pork belly sandwich, with braised pineapple, cucumber and chipotle mayo is simultaneously fatty, chewy, crunchy, sweet and slightly spicy. The juices drip down your fingers as you try and fit it all in your mouth at once. The mac and cheese, made with doughy udon noodles and topped with shiitake and jalapeño is creamy and smooth, but is quickly finished in a few bites.
The portions are small, which is great for sampling the wide variety of intriguing options but can make for a rather pricey meal if you come in starved, wanting a cheap filling fix. But the expertly paired ingredients make for a delicious and surprising treat for the tastebuds, especially after the bland offerings of the dining halls.
$$ // 1321 E. 57th St., Chicago IL, 60637
Photography by Alexia Bacigalupi
Featured image via
Have you been to PACKED yet? What are your favorite restaurants in Hyde Park? Let us know in the comments below!