It's shaping up to be quite a 2016 for lovers of Filipino food in Chicago. This week, mega-popular fast-food chain Jollibee opens in suburban Skokie and a second open will follow inside the city proper, slated for 5033 N. Elston Ave. They'll share that address with one-stop Filipino marketplace Seafood City. Reps from the Filipino grocer chain say they plan on opening in September, bringing with them a variety of fast-casual restaurants.
A little background: Seafood City is a chain of pan-Asian grocers. They target areas with large Filipino populations and sell ingredients and items for Filipino immigrants and Filipino-Americans. It's kind of a community hub, and they also house an array of quick-service restaurants. They've got locations in Los Angeles, Northern California and Hawaii, Las Vegas, Seattle and San Diego. The first opened in 1989.
The 87,000-square-foot Chicago location will feature a brand new concept, as Seafood City will debut their first restaurant focusing on hot noodle soups, dry noodles and steamed buns. It's called Noodles Street. But despite the new wrinkle, they're still applying much of the same formula in Chicago that's made the chain popular elsewhere. Seafood City's flagship restaurant is called Grill City, and features Filipino-style barbecue. Meanwhile, for fans of fried street food, like lumpia, there's Crispy Town. Their signature item is called bagnet —crispy pork belly. Check out Crispy Town in Las Vegas. They're still finalizing the list of restaurants, but they'll also include Valerio's Tropical Bakeshop (a Filipino bakery) and Red Ribbon (Filipino cake maker).
In due time, Seafood City should do for Chicago's Filipino population what Super H Mart has done for the area's Korean population in Niles and what Mitsuwa Marketplace has done for the area's Japanese population in Arlington Heights. Check back soon for more.