Today was a good day for a bowl of wonton soup at Penny’s Noodle Shop in Lakeview.

Penny’s is a little shop wedged on the corner of Roscoe and Sheffield underneath the Brown Line. It has been one of our favorites since the 90s, and of the five Chicagoland locations this one is best.  The CTA rattles overhead.  The artwork inside, the kitchen at work right there in front of you, even the radio station music all contribute to making it in my opinion a comfortable and comforting spot.  Especially today.  It’s finally beginning to feel like winter in Chicago.

I barely needed to order the soup.  ‘Need a menu?’  The waitress knows me and knows that I am likely to order the wonton soup, with noodles, in cold weather.  Summertime, I tend to get the chilled Sesame Beef Noodle. 

I order noodles as an extra to fill me up.  She did make one mistake:  she brought iced tea.  I know why.  That’s Gail’s beverage.  Me, just water.  She laughed at her error and glided away with the glass for the man sitting over there.  He expressed how much he was enjoying his noodles with a baritone belch.  He emptied the tea.

My soup arrives.  It is a five course meal in a bowl.  I began with the steaming broth, then moved to some of the vermicelli noodles.  Next, Chinese greens.  Now, a few pieces of the tender barbecued pork.  Then, the dumplings aka wontons.  They tend to be hottest so it’s wise to wait before tackling one of the four in the bowl.  Finally, alternating between all five, sometimes a morsel of greens with a slice of pork.  More broth.  Noodles.  Dumpling.  I am conducting a symphony.

The finale ends.  The bowl is empty.

The check:  $7.15.

Years ago friends told us we were spoiled.   Pizza Hut will work, they said, when you don’t have the kind of choices a city like Chicago offers.  Chicago pizza is legend, there’s a lot of it, and almost always it’s wonderful.  I’ve enjoyed Pizza Hut, too.  But eating in the city with all its diversity and many choices is great.  One of the perks of being in an urban place.