Smile Politely

Mid Summer Lounge has dreamy dumplings and fire lunch in Campustown

The author's meal at Mid Summer Lounge in Champaign.
Alyssa Buckley

Those sneaky, sunny warm days earlier this month were a tease of nice weather that’s to come, but before chilly days are gone, I want to eat dumplings. And last week, when a craving for dumplings hit me, I knew where to go because I had heard tell of the incredible dumplings at Mid Summer Lounge.

The Campustown restaurant opened on Green Street in 2017, and since then, several people have told me about Mid Summer Lounge’s dumplings, saying they’re the best dumplings in town. When I noticed that our last review of Mid Summer Lounge was nearly five years ago in 2019, I set a dumpling date in my calendar and met a friend at the Campustown dumpling destination.

Though we arrived only minutes after the restaurant opened for lunch at 11 a.m., already we were the sixth and seventh ones there. This place stayed busy the whole time. The two kiosks by the door had customers continuously tapping orders.

The interior of Mid Summer Lounge.
Alyssa Buckley

The campus restaurant’s ambiance was lovely. The furniture was upscale with handsome tables and elegant lighting; the music was upbeat. Booths lined both sides of the dining room, and tables for larger parties filled the center.

The self service station for cups, chopsticks, and spoons.
Alyssa Buckley

I placed my lunch order on the kiosk — much more slowly than the regulars who clicked through quickly. After paying, I gathered spoons, chopsticks, and napkins from the self-serve station beside the ordering machines. When our order was ready, the server yelled out our number. We gave a wave and attempted to retrieve the dishes, but a server brought everything to the table.

The menu here offers a variety of Chinese cuisine from appetizers to dry noodles to soups. We went specifically for the dumplings, but I also ordered an appetizer, a veggie dish, and a soup.

The dumplings at Mid Summer Lounge on Green Street in Champaign.
Dumplings at Mid Summer Lounge; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

My expectations were extremely high for these dumplings because we have a lot of good dumplings in this town — and also everyone won’t shut up about how good the dumplings are at Mid Summer Lounge. So, I ordered the famous pork Napa cabbage and mushroom dumplings ($13), which came with fourteen dumplings. Are you kidding me right now with fourteen dumplings for $13?! And they tasted amazing. In one bite, I understood the hype.

The dumpling wrapper was tender soft yet chewy like delicious pasta. The pork filling tasted absolutely delish with chopped cabbage and garlicky slivers of mushroom. I ate these dumplings plain; I ate them dipped in soup, dipped in chili oil, dipped in the chijiang vinegar (black rice vinegar) on the table, and they were good no matter what. Obviously handmade with a rustic shape and beautiful indentions along the pockets, these steamed dumplings were dreamy delicious. I loved them, and I regret that it took me so long to try them.

Sausage and egg wrap at Mid Summer Lounge.
Sausage and egg wrap at Mid Summer Lounge; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

I also ordered the sausage and egg wrap ($6.50), which was a scallion pancake that had egg, lettuce, and three half hot dogs sliced hot dog-style. I was most concerned with what happened to the fourth half hot dog — was it a snack for the chef? The dish’s pancake was soft and thicker than I expected, almost like naan. The scallions flecked throughout added a great flavor, and the pancake was a yummy, sturdy envelope for the fillings. The thin, folded egg tasted really yummy, but overall, for me, it was a little too much hot dog.

Chicken wings on skewers at Mid Summer Lounge.
Chicken wings at Mid Summer Lounge; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Yes, your girl ordered Mid Summer Lounge’s chicken wings ($6), and good thing I did because these chicken wings were fire. First off, they were served on sticks; I loved that. Secondly, they were all flats; that’s very awesome. Moreover, the seasoning was spot on. The salty lemon pepper dry rub on the wings tasted totally delicious with the crispy, crunchy skin and juicy meat. These wings were as good as the dumplings. For sure, I will be back to eat this street food app again, and it will be to-go next time, so I can walk around eating skewers of chicken wings.

Cucumbers in garlic vinaigrette at Mid Summer Lounge.
Cucumbers at Mid Summer Lounge; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

I also ordered the cucumber in garlic vinaigrette ($5), which was a vegetarian dish. The chopped cucumber was marinaded in a sour vinegar dressing that was savory and salty. I loved the delicious soy flavor and cold temperature especially as a contrast to the hot dishes.

The spicy and sour soup at Mid Summer Lounge.
Spicy and sour soup at Mid Summer Lounge; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Finally, I ordered the spicy and sour rice noodle soup ($12). This was a vegetarian soup with clear rice noodles, bok choy, chopped green onions, fresh sprigs of cilantro, and whole peanuts. I didn’t expect it (though I definitely should have because the dish was called spicy and sour soup), this soup was crazy spicy. The flavors were well balanced in terms of sour and spice, but one slurp was enough to take me out. Eating this, I felt pain; that broth was extremely spicy.

Only a temporary respite from the heat, the soup’s glass rice noodles were mild and had a gelatinous, jelly-like texture. Still quite crunchy, the halved bok choy had many cavernous, leafy cups to hold the broth, so each held a hidden burst of spicy soup in the folds. There was no escaping the spiciness of the oily broth’s glistening chili oil and red pepper flakes, but the floating peanuts gave both a not-spicy nuttiness and texture to the hot soup.

The author's lunch at Mid Summer Lounge in Champaign.
Dumplings, cucumbers, sour soup, and chicken wings at Mid Summer Lounge; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Overall, our lunch was a delicious meal especially for the price. I will one hundred percent come back for the dumplings and chicken wings because they were pretty much perfect.

Mid Summer Lounge’s dainty plates elevated the Campustown food with a nicer presentation than many of the platings at other Green Street eateries, but the restaurant’s self-serve drinks, chopsticks, napkins, and spoons were on par with most other campus spots. The food here was fresh and served super quickly. Clearly, Mid Summer Lounge has been around for a long time for a reason, and now I get why it’s a popular spot.

The exterior of Mid Summer Lounge.
Alyssa Buckley

For more about the Chinese restaurant on Green Street, check out their website.

Mid Summer Lounge
623 E Green St
11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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