Just about every Sunday as a little one, Katie Liu-Sung would accompany her family to a dim sum cafe. This was custom, whether or not they ended up residing in LA, wherever Liu-Sung expended her initial 10 years, or Taichung, Taiwan, exactly where her household moved again to when she was 10. She particularly loved har gow, sensitive shrimp-loaded dumplings that she would beg her mother to get en masse.
“She would get irritated because it was also costly to have six or 7 orders of har gow,” Liu-Sung suggests. “One day, she begun earning the har gow, and we had our have infinite provide. That was the greatest day ever.”
It was a sticking second: “Once I recognized that we can make the issues we appreciate at residence, that we can recreate the things that make us pleased, it was all I required to do.”
You will not uncover har gow on the menu at Chewology—not nevertheless, in any case. But there are a number of other dumpling choices, tried-and-legitimate recipes Liu-Sung perfected in excess of the three several years she ran her counter-services place within Lenexa General public Marketplace. She remaining Lenexa in July 2020, and in November, she reopened at 900 Westport Highway in the house vacated by Bluestem.
The new spot has afforded Chewology a number of new functions: far more sq. footage, desk company, a very long bar with a devoted cocktail program. Liu-Sung’s touches are far more redecoration than rework. Each individual other desk has been plastered with a floral tablecloth, partitions have been painted green, the dining place has been strung with festive twinkling red lights.
It is the food items that clears out the Bluestem cobwebs. Chewology’s finest-marketing dumplings are stuffed with a punchy pork-cabbage mixture seasoned with contemporary ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. There’s a beef possibility, far too, flavored with kimchi and not quick on funk. These dumplings are crimped into crescent moon-formed offers, the identical fold Liu-Sung’s father taught her. Wield your chopsticks very carefully: The rose petal-delicate dough is thick but fragile.
If unattractive dumplings are on offer you, get them. Liu-Sung and her crew choose the reject-dumplings that are also misshapen to land a starring purpose on the frequent dish and give them a next life as an occasional nightly specific. When I had them, seam-popping beef dumplings arrived in a spicy, gory, blood-pink bathtub of the best sauce ever—a magic mix of chili oil, black vinegar and garlic. Liu-Sung’s dumplings are generally 7 to an order, guaranteeing an argument about who will have the previous just one.
Dumplings will come with your choice of a aspect of rice or a ramekin of pickled vegetables. The latter is credited to Andy McCormick, previous observed at The Cafe at 1900 and the Hey Hey Club prior to. Liu-Sung recruited him to be her chef de cuisine. He would make a dashi with dried shiitake and kombu and utilizes the resulting broth in the 3-cup mushroom ramen. McCormick cures the leftover shiitakes in a Shaoxing wine and rice vinegar brine he has perfected. A scant handful of slivers of these snackable mushrooms are nestled prettily along with pickled cauliflower and cucumbers.
Chewology’s dishes are a mashup of Liu-Sung’s ordeals and McCormick’s interests, blending her household recipes and standard preparing with his penchant for vivid flavors and delicate plating. From this assembly of minds, we have dishes like the bibimbap—a thriving vegetable garden wherever various textures (charred inexperienced onion, pickled lotus root, the softest poached egg) buzz with flavor.
Liu-Sung and McCormick’s union is probably the most Taiwanese factor about the cafe. Taiwan is an island of immigrants, from the Japanese colonizers who introduced raw fish and miso in the 1890s to the Chinese migrants fleeing communism in the 1950s, bringing with them regional Sichuan, Cantonese and Shanghai dishes. Chewology’s flavors cheerfully glide concerning all these influences and pull inspiration from quite a few more.
“People generally talk to me, ‘What is Taiwanese foods?’” Liu-Sung says. “But it’s a melting pot, just like The united states. On our menu, we have a large amount of various areas, but it is what we eat in Taiwan and it’s component of our tradition. For me, relocating across continents multiple occasions increasing up, food items was usually what comforted me.”
At its best, lu rou supporter, a bowl of stewy pork above rice, is anything comfort foods should really be. Liu-Sung prepares skin-on pork belly in the tradition of Taiwan’s Hakka people—a extensive, affected individual braise with soy and five-spice—and serves it with her chili and kombu-pickled pineapple and McCormick’s crunchy pickled cabbage. Listed here, this dish is nourishing, uncomplicated and unforgettable.
Chewology distinguishes itself with modest facts. Liu-Sung prefers brown short grain for the additional chew, and a patient cook with loads of h2o keeps her rice incredibly plump. The raw ahi and soy-drenched jammy egg in the poke bowl are exceptional partners, but it’s the rice that compels you to dig your chopsticks in once again and once more.
Beef noodle soup is typically regarded as Taiwan’s national dish, and at Chewology, fork-tender slices of beef shank float in a aromatic beef broth that is prosperous but not much too decadent. On every of my four visits, someone encouraged the dan dan noodles. I liked the just-ideal spice that tickled the again of my throat, but it is the mushroom ramen I’m nonetheless contemplating about: McCormick’s soulful dashi surrounds a fungi forest populated with shaggy lion’s mane, coral tooth and king oyster, and the squiggly noodles are completely al dente.
At Chewology’s bao station, the staff steams marshmallowy buns throughout the working day. The gua bao—golden brown slabs of pork tummy braised in a funky, citrusy ponzu—scratches an itch you didn’t even know you experienced. The kaarage, with bites of juicy rooster thigh coated in an airy sweet potato flour and 5 spice batter, is an simple contender for Kansas City’s very best chicken sandwich.
Not every thing will work, not nonetheless. A strong Hunan-design dry rub manufactured of cumin, coriander and Szechuan pepper was strong plenty of to distract, at first, from lamb ribs that clung to the bone with a sinewy may possibly. And the only dessert—moon cakes from Shang Tea Property in Crown Center—has been put on hold indefinitely.
The cocktail plan has hits and misses. Flavors in the Taipei 101 (a martini with Japanese gin and bee pollen) have been fantastic, but the coupes are outsized for the volume, and when the consume disappears in just a several swallows, you experience a little cheated. Go for the 823, an Aged Fashioned riff with sesame oil-washed Rittenhouse whiskey that is as sleek as an Ang Lee movie.
This spring, Liu-Sung and McCormick hope to debut Chewology’s sister strategy, Stray Kat. The idea has cycled through various iterations since the two started discussing it. The duo has landed on a pop-up evening meal sequence where by they can enjoy with far more adventurous dishes.
In the meantime, there is a good deal to investigate on Chewology’s purposeful and concise menu. Get started with the dumplings, buy at least one particular bao and then—well, it only took 4 visits for me to try out each dish. You could almost certainly do it in two.