A sky-blue awning looms over the maritime mural that flanks the entrance to Svea Restaurant, where a homey dining room hosts meals of traditional Swedish cooking. Swedish limpa bread, fried potatoes, and pancakes sate breakfast cravings, and meatballs and salt pork fill the plates of brunchers, lunchers, and Scandinavian longshoremen.
Despite its uptown location, Silver Seafood is a slice of Chinatown with the expansive menu--actually, two menus--to prove it. The kitchen staff is comprised of native Chinese who use traditional Cantonese recipes to flavor more than 100 seafood, rice, noodle, poultry, and beef dishes spread across a regular and an American-Chinese menu. Reviewers on PBS wttw's Check, Please! insist on ordering from the regular menu and unanimously praise Silver Seafood for its balanced soups, ample entrees, and attentive service. When preparing family-style feasts, co-owners Howard Tran and Bill Doung use only the freshest ingredients available, a fact that becomes readily apparent as live lobsters, fish, and crabs swim around the dining room's set of tanks.
A stroll past Sun Wah BBQ offers a glimpse of Hong Kong, where rows of golden-brown ducks glisten from hooks in the front window of this traditional Chinese barbecue spot. Step inside the spacious dining room and the dull thud of carving knives fills the air. Mike Cheng, part of the family legacy that runs Sun Wah, divvies up perfectly browned cuts of pork, duck, and chicken?all roasted in-house?and layers them onto platters to be shared at large, communal tables. The full-course Peking duck dinner is the crowd favorite and comes recommended by Chicago Tribune food critic Phil Vettel, who remarks that the duck?s ?lacquered skin [is] so glistening you can sense its crispy perfection from 3 feet away.? The off-menu dish often requires advance notice, as its popularity precedes it. Sun Wah is a family business through and through, started by Chinese émigré Eric Cheng and his wife Lynda in 1987. Their three children?Mike, Kelly, and Laura?now run the day-to-day operations at Sun Wah's new space, which is situated just around the corner from its original location. The revamped dining room has expanded and so has the menu, listing dozens of Cantonese specialties such as pork belly and whole fish alongside pan-fried noodles and congee, a popular porridge-like breakfast food.
Though Hai Yen’s chefs are well versed in Vietnamese cuisine, they aren’t cooking up every meal at Hai Yen Restaurant. Tableside fondue pots, soup pots, and grills allow diners to take part in the fun, dipping fresh vegetables in fondue or adorning thin slices of meat with one of many sauces. Entrees include lemongrass pork with mint, breaded chicken smothered with orange sauce, and marinated beef and pork wrapped in a Hawaiian leaf. Hai Yen Restaurant boasts a large collection of sauces for dipping, which include hot chili sauce, peanut sauce, and sriracha sauce.
To some, seafood served before noon—and in a diner, no less—may border on bizarre. But those critics would be in a minority that excludes Guy Fieri of the Food Network. In a recent episode of his Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Fieri stormed the diner’s kitchen for insight into its signature blackboard, flush with more than 16 types of fresh fish. The menu makes use of this seafood not only at dinner, but also in the early hours with special weekend brunch items, such as the New Orleans scramble, a smorgasbord of tiger shrimp and Andouille sausage, and jumbo lump blue crab. Glenn's also harks back to its greasy-spoon roots with breakfast served all day and endless portions of U-Peel-Em shrimp or Alaskan king crab legs during all-you-can-eat Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The chefs at Seafood Garden prepare a medley of Chinese favorites for dine-in or carryout. A slew of seafood dishes quells pescetarian cravings with sauce-slathered shrimp and tender fish fillet, while tofu dishes sate vegetarian appetites and noodles suitably replace lost shoelaces.