Wok 'n Fire?named Best Asian Restaurant by West Suburban Living?tantalizes taste buds with a menu bursting with flavors from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. In their specialties, chefs sear seafood, steak, and chicken with complex flavors in the wok. They craft sashimi and specialty maki rolls, as well as twirling together noodle dishes that range from japanese udon to thai curry noodles and the cantonese noodles used in ancient tugs of war between provinces. Ginger ale and flavored lemonades, both crafted in-house, hydrate throats between bites.
Decor varies across the Asian bistro's locations throughout the western suburbs, but all share dramatic lighting, sleek hardwood floors, and smooth wooden seating that all obey one gravitational constant. Sophisticated accents pervade each location, such as dangling lights that recall bells, sinuous golden dragons undulating across a wall, and partitions that mimic an abacus or twined branches.
Since 1980, Golden Wok Restaurant's chefs have used zero-trans-fat vegetable oils while preparing spice-filled Cantonese and Mandarin cuisine. At dinner, the restaurant's tables fill with dishes of sizzling barbecue pork egg foo young, chow mein and lo mein, and Cantonese?style lobster tails.
Stepping inside Chef Shangri-La's dining room is like entering a distant tropical trading post. Thatched awnings, woven ceilings, and palm fronds flank Polynesian masks and Easter Island statues while scents of Chinese, Thai, and Japanese cuisine waft with Polynesian aromas from mango- and pineapple-covered meats, barbecue char siu, and spicy sichuan stir-fries. Rock walls and fountains line a tucked-away koi pond, and a separate tiki bar urges guests to while away the hours sipping tropical drinks outfitted with tiny umbrellas that belong to tiny British nannies. As guests sup on meals of japanese noodle soup and tropical pua'a pork, the stage area regales diners with live Hawaiian bands every third Saturday of the month and annual music fests and luaus with DJs, dancers, and Polynesian collectables.
"The name would suggest that dumplings are the draw here," says the Chicago Reader of Katy's Dumpling House, "but it's the fresh homemade noodles that instantly turn unsuspecting diners into fervent members of the cult of Katy's." Beyond the restaurant's expansive front windows hung with neon-lit Chinese characters, chefs simmer those noodles with rich, savory beef broth, fry them with shrimp, and pair them with pickled turnip in pork broth soup. The dumplings are nothing to scoff at, however—filled with fennel-laced pork or beef with scallions, the Chicago Tribune celebrates the delicate starch pockets as "delicious" and "awe-inspiring". Beyond the restaurant's namesake dish, a range of traditional Chinese recipes also satisfies in such forms as moo shu chicken and eggplant in garlic sauce.
Crisp peapods, plump cloves of garlic, and succulent chili peppers are just a few of the fresh ingredients filling Gong Ho's kitchen. Chefs fold the fresh produce and spices into a variety of Chinese favorites, from chicken almond ding dotted with onions, mushrooms, and crunchy water chestnuts, to fried rice studded with bean sprouts, green onion, and juicy morsels of barbecue pork. Steaming bowls of wonton soup also emerge from the kitchen, followed by juicy barbecue spare ribs or platters of moo shoo beef. Of course, to get the best taste of what the kitchen has to offer, diners won't want to overlook one of the restaurant's signature dishes, such as Treasures of the Sea—a mountain of rice topped with a bountiful assortment of lobster, shrimp, scallop, and Chinese vegetables––or the battered, deep-fried Phoenix chicken, which makes a great leftover since it mysteriously replenishes itself when re-warmed.
Before touching down on the dining-room tables, plates greet diners with the wafting aromas of authentic Chinese-style veggies, spices, and sauces. Equally adept at sautéing tofu, shredding pork, and crisping duck, the cooks can accessorize their entrees' savory flavors with spoonfuls of sweet 'n' sour plum sauce or fiery scoops of hot-chili paste, which burns as intensely as a bonfire full of matchbooks. For added doses of transpacific flavor, they can also stir in traditional Chinese ingredients such as water chestnuts and stir-fried string beans.