May 24, 2022 - Food and Drink

Chicago's best egg rolls

Photo of egg rolls
Classic egg rolls from Orange Garden. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

What many of us know as a "Chinese" egg roll was actually invented in New York City back in the 1930s.

  • The first mention of the egg roll we found in the Chicago Tribune came in a 1943 ad for Monica's great grandfather's restaurant, Hoe Sai Gai, which sold them for 75 cents.

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander heritage month, we're sharing our favorite versions around the city for this week's Food Fight.

Monica's pick: I would pick the egg rolls from the old House of Eng in Hyde Park if it were still around.

  • But 35 years after its closing — and the closing of so many classic old school joints — I reach for the egg rolls at Chicago's longest continuously running Chinese restaurant, The Orange Garden on Irving Park.
  • I recently crunched into a fine version filled with peanut butter-scented cabbage and tiny shrimps. Not quite as good as the old Eng family egg rolls but still pretty tasty.
Egg rolls from Saigon Sisters on Lake Street. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios
Egg rolls from Saigon Sisters on Lake Street. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Justin's pick: Nobody can beat the egg rolls at House of Eng, but I'll go with the Vietnamese egg rolls at Saigon Sisters.

  • With two kinds of egg rolls on the menu, their signature is the Nems Imperial Egg Rolls made in fried rice paper with pork, mushroom, lettuce, herbs and nuoc cham.
  • They also make a crispy, fried vegetarian option with a sweet, tangy dipping sauce.

👏 Chicago readers also had some great suggestions:

Maggie B: "My favorite still-available egg roll is from House of Wah Sun on Lincoln Avenue (by Montrose)."

Barbara W.: "Chef's Special Cocktail Bar in Bucktown. The best I’ve had!!"

  • Mario G.: "The egg roll at Chef's Special is the best. And their crab rangoon is the best I've ever had anywhere on the planet."

Tamara M.: "My gone-but-not-forgotten choices would be from Kwan Yin on Lincoln Avenue or Mark's Chop Suey on Broadway."

Matt G.: "These are super untraditional, but the Italian beef egg rolls at Ellyn's Tap & Grill in Glen Ellyn are to die for."

  • "Don't knock 'em til you've tried 'em, but every single person I know who's had them has absolutely loved them."

Paul M.: "The best egg rolls I ever had were from Wing Hoe on Sheridan, which is now closed."

  • "They were large, full of veggies and had peanut butter in their crispy, non-oily skins. I miss them dearly."

Dawn K.: "Best 'NY' style egg rolls are at Jin Asian Cafe on Belmont."

Connie B.: "The best egg rolls were at Pekin House on Devon, and Kow Kow in Lincolnwood, both sadly long gone. Now my favorite is New Star in Elmwood Park."

Kar Uchima: "My favorite was Ding Hoe (Clark and Division)."

Leah Z.: "Wing Wah in Arlington Heights."

Dave A.: "I love the peanut butter egg rolls from Lee's Chop Suey."

Lisa L.: "Mee Mah on Peterson has pretty good egg rolls."

Dave H.: "Jerk Chicken Eggrolls at 3 King's Jerk. A very colorful storefront."

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