Standing just across from the new Bridgeport station of the Chicago Police Department, Ed’s Potsticker House is marked by its bright red Broadway-style storefront. The theatrical design is embellished with two traditional Chinese lamps that hang from the front window, a perimeter of flickering yellow lights, and various culinary reviews taped to the glass. Flanked by the muted colors of worn Bridgeport storefronts, the Potsticker House naturally draws one’s attention.
Inside, the walls are decorated with large framed paintings of women in traditional Chinese garments. Just as the overwhelming street view commands attention, so too does the eight-page menu. Although the name might suggest a menu brimming with dumpling varieties, there is no single menu section devoted to dumplings. Yet, thanks to the alternating pictures and dish lists–despite the lack of correlation between the two–there are a few dumpling dishes to be found. Of the dumpling styles, it is the house dumpling that is most heavily advertised. Pictured both on the first page of the menu and in a poster-size photograph on the restaurant’s back wall, these pork-filled, cylinder-shaped dumplings are the restaurant’s specialty.
The dish is a take on the traditional Northern Chinese dumpling. Unlike the dumpling houses found throughout Beijing and North China, where the smell of oil and fresh dough fill the air and hot steam creates a haze that settles over cooks and customers alike, the house dumplings are as stale as the Potsticker House’s environment. The dough, chewy and undercooked, is a lackluster interpretation.
Among the other dumpling dishes are the Shanghai pork dumpling, often called Soup Dumpling or xiao long bao in Mandarin Chinese. These dumplings originally come from Nanxiang, a neighborhood of Shanghai. Unlike the house dumpling, they come in the traditional dim sum bamboo baskets, and are some of the freshest food on the menu. The dumpling is traditionally made with minced pork wrapped in pleated dough and filled with soup or broth inside. These dumplings, like most on the menu, are served in multiples of eight or ten and are a good dish to share among a group. The rest of the menu has a large selection of vegetable, noodle, and meat dishes, as well several soups. The chicken with chili is a less-flavorful version of Lao Sze Chuan’s dry chili chicken.
Like most Chinese restaurants, the layout encourages communal sharing. A spread of several large circular tables and several booths against one wall creates an intimate space. But despite the comfortable layout, the the cloying sounds of loud Chinese pop music and the two television sets detract from the restaurant’s warmth.
Despite the uninspired space and menu, Ed’s Potsticker House is nearly always packed with families, groups of friends, and often groups of businessmen and women. The reasonable prices and large dish size encourage a dining-style that diverges from most neighboring Bridgeport restaurants. For a group of students looking for a cheap meal outside the borders of Chinatown, Ed’s Potsticker House is a decent choice. But with Chinatown only a few miles away, and a city full of Chinese restaurants, a trip to Ed’s Potsticker House is not a priority.
3139 S. Halsted St. Open Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday, 11am-11pm; Saturday-Sunday, 10am-10pm. (312)326-6898.