Top 5 Chinese restaurants in Chicago

February 3, 2011

photo of mapo tofu from Lao Sze Chuan by Joseph Storch

The Year of the Rabbit is here, and while I have a thing about consuming the actual animal (you try to digest 10 courses on Iron Chef), I have no problem sharing some of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Chicago. Each one offers something unique, and more importantly, delicious. Gung hay fat choy!

1. Lao Sze Chuan
For spicy, piquant, crunchy and aromatic dishes that don’t hold back the heat levels for amateurs. Also a great assortment of rarely-found Chinese vegetable preparations and hot pot for a group.

2. Sun Wah BBQ
For the incomparable Peking duck, sold by the truckload and deftly sliced as a first-course with puffy gua bao, then wok-fried with vegetables for a hearty second course and boiled into a rich stock for a bracing third round.

3. Shui Wah
For homemade dim sum made to order, that is, you fill out the tidy card and they bring you the steamed or fried mini-treats as soon as they’re ready. Try the crispy calamari “fries” dusted with chili powder.

4. Tasty City
Where my trusted colleague Kevin Pang gets his Hong Kong cafĂ© groove on, and the poached, hacked chicken will make you realize what you’ve been missing all these years; the beguiling dipping sauce is pure bliss. Who knew the Chinese could make a sweet tea as good as down South?

5. MingHin
Part of the new regime of higher-end, creature comfort-driven Chinese restaurants that are ditching the fluorescent lights and egg rolls, and instead, are bringing with them the 21st century dishes from Hong Kong and Shanghai.

photo of hot pot at Lao Sze Chuan by Joseph Storch