Chinese Restaurants in Chicago

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When she opened Take Me Out, Karen Lim was attempting to fill her parents' shoes while they were still wearing them. The elder Lims are the owners of Great Sea, a Chinese restaurant known for its delectable Asian-style wings. But it turns out Karen’s version, which she calls "hotties", may be even better. Chicago magazine named them the best Asian-style wings in the city in 2009, and other press outlets, including the Chicago Reader and Chicago Sun-Times, have raved about them as well. Though an ABC News feature kept Lim's methods under wraps, it did list a handful of ingredients—chilies, honey, soy, and garlic—that contribute to the spicy sauce, a "secret weapon" that takes eight hours to brew. Guests can smother their wings in this tangy concoction or in its mild and medium variants, which provide less kick than the original version, yet more than lukewarm yogurt. Before being served, the meat is "Frenched," or pushed to one side of the bone for ease of eating (the wings are often compared to lollipops in appearance). Sides of crab rangoon, pot stickers, and daikon help mounds of rice offset the fire of each bite, and patrons can also bring libations from home.

1502 W 18th St
Chicago,
IL
US

Centerstage Chicago reviewer Kate Schwartz noted that, after the move to Restaurant Row from its former Gold Coast location, Dragonfly Mandarin "has staked its claim among some of Chicago's culinary elite." It has done so with the help of Executive Chef Michael Lin, who crafts authentic Chinese and Asian dishes with high-end ingredients such as flank steak and king prawns. From the unctuously decadent—pork-belly ramen soup with poached eggs—to the crisp and refreshing—cucumber-mint salad with ponzu sauce—the entrees step up to impress his patrons' taste buds, as evidenced by the Best of Citysearch award for Chinese food in 2007 and an OpenTable Diners' Choice award for Asian food. The decor is as sleek and sophisticated as the upscale cuisine. On the first floor, elegantly fanned umbrellas protect the walls from fumbled chopsticks. Long, ornate lanterns illuminate the balcony at the top of the stairway to the second floor, where club lights and a dance floor facilitate good times in the late-night lounge. Behind the wooden bar, Kabuki-like masks wear dramatic expressions, peering at guests in plush, red banquettes as they drink in tunes emanating from the DJ booth.

832 W Randolph St
Chicago,
IL
US

Located in Chinatown Square, Tasty City draws inspiration from Hong Kong cafés and street vendors to dish up a blend of Asian and Western cuisines. The eatery’s Chinese name translates to “a thousand tastes,” a title chefs aim to achieve with an extensive menu that harnesses fresh ingredients and a taste-bud personality test. A kitchen window allows diners to observe chefs as they whip up Japanese-style ramen noodles, smoothies made with 13 different fresh fruits, and dozens of baked, fried, and rolled rice entrees. In the dining room, a fleet of TVs neighbor large murals depicting trees and flowers, recessed blue lighting glows next to lights tucked into wavy orange ceiling pieces, and WiFi floats through the air.

2022 S Archer Ave
Chicago,
IL
US

Chen's taps diverse Chinese, Japanese, and Thai traditions to forge a slate of Eastern dishes and creative cocktails that have gleaned numerous accolades from Zagat. Executive chef and owner Bing Zhou plates elegant portions of lemon chicken, peking duck, and seafood gently seasoned with Chinese spices as maki rolls nestle raw morsels of salmon, lobster, and yellowtail in innovative combinations. Bartenders sling more than 25 martini styles beneath the soft lighting of recessed sconces as bamboo floors support terra-cotta statues of historic warriors. In the lounge, overstuffed chairs sidle up to a crackling fireplace to share stories of their ottoman ancestors beneath cream and persimmon hues.

3506 N Clark St
Chicago,
IL
US

Representing a range of cuisines from across eastern Asia, Emperor Cuisine's menu interweaves Chinese, Japanese, and Thai flavors throughout its encyclopedic pages. Orders of spicy Szechwan chicken or chow mein topped with crispy noodles draw inspiration from China's savory history, while the pad thai and Thai-style soup with spicy coconut shrimp hail from a bit farther South. For yet another change of pace, the chefs also showcase their Japanese sushi techniques by filling platters with slices of sashimi and nigiri. The sushi selection also features more than 50 different rolls, including creations with everything from spicy tuna and honey-mustard sauce to smoked salmon and wasabi cream cheese.

2910 N Ashland Ave
Chicago,
IL
US

Normally, when you have a craving for fried rice at 3 in the morning, you have no other option but to go back to sleep and dream yourself into a Chinese restaurant. Chi Cafe, an Asian-style eatery that keeps hours more typical of a late-night diner, presents a different and far more attractive solution. The cafe stays blessedly open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and until 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Though the 18-section menu might induce a daze with its extensive selection of Chinese dishes, the colorful mod décor demands more attention than a toddler with alarm clocks in his pockets.

2160 South Archer Avenue
Chicago,
IL
US

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