Noodle and rice dishes laced with influences from Mongolia and China leap from the pages of Dragon Palace's menu to frolic between chopsticks. Clouds of exotically scented steam rise from shrimp, beef, and tofu and call to mind distant vistas. Dishes call on fresh fistfuls of string beans, baby corn, pineapple, and other common scarecrow character witnesses, which parade alongside savory morsels of lobster or scallop. Paintings of koi fish gaze from Dragon Palace's wall, and delivery, catering, and carry-out services launch warming dispatches to parties and businessmen attempting to telecommute to food fights.
At Buffet City and Hibachi Grill and Sushi Buffet, eaters serve themselves international fare from Mexico, Italy, China, and more. The restaurant's multiple islands of cuisine welcome pairs or quartets to sample a diversity of flavors, ranging from orange chicken and lo mein to dessert items such as cupcakes and tilapia. A hibachi steak bar and grill showcases flame-cooked, Japanese-style proteins that are typically cooked in an open-top container with a 12-foot blowtorch, and sushi rolls sate diners who prefer their fish fresh from the chilly ocean waters.
Sesame Inn’s mouth-watering menu whisks guests on culinary journeys through China, Japan, and Thailand. Seventeen stir-fried dishes, including spicy sichuan green beans and kung pao chicken with crunchy peanuts and water chestnuts, spring from traditional Chinese recipes like gold nuggets spring from fortune cookies. Chefs tuck chicken, beef, or shrimp into beds of pineapple fried rice or pad thai’s nest of egg-laced rice noodles. If diners prefer their entrees uncooked, the Kama Kaze maki showcases two types of tuna, and the vegetable maki arrives rolled with spinach, cucumber, gourd, pickles, and asparagus.
Chi Tung began as a small Chinese restaurant in 1988, but has since evolved into a 200-seat pan-Asian kingdom that houses a hibachi steak house as well as a lounge area. In the midst of several growth spurts, owners Jinny and Dan Zhao have trained their focus on upholding high culinary standards. They parceled their cooking team into three separate kitchens, each one dedicated to producing authentic Chinese, Thai, or Japanese food. In these highly specialized quarters, cooks prepare hundreds of menu items, such as mongolian beef, shrimp pad thai, and chicken satay. Although the cooks work at a steady clip, they adhere to traditional recipes and techniques when blending custom sauces and handcrafting more than 100 types of sushi.
Amid traditional hand-painted art and lanterns, trained chefs hailing directly from Hong Kong prepare a menu of authentic Mandarin and Cantonese fare at Dragon Inn, which has stood for nearly half a century. As a large painting of dragons dueling at opposing lemonade stands adorns the bar area, diners enjoy succulent meals, such as peking duck, which requires one day's advance notice for preparation. As meals are polished down to bare plates, occasional bouts of live music serenade aural appetites awaiting the sweet sounds of recently added sushi options.
Tamarind serves up a modern take on traditional sushi rolls. Tamarind is also a good option for those with special dietary needs, offering both low-fat and gluten-free items on the menu. Those who enjoy a drink or two with dinner are advised to take advantage of Tamarind's BYOB policy. Toast your evening out at Tamarind with a glass of beer or wine from their lengthy drink list. You won't need to get a sitter before heading to Tamarind — kids are more than welcome at this family-friendly establishment. If dining outdoors is your idea of a good time, you'll love the gorgeous patio seating at Tamarind. If space is what you're looking for, Tamarind has plenty of room for larger parties.
Call ahead for reservations to ensure your table is waiting for you when you arrive. Tamarind is completely informal — dress as you see fit (and are most comfortable). You can also serve food from Tamarind at your next party — the sushi spot offers catering.
There's nearby street parking available as well as a valet service. If public transportation is preferable, ditch the car and board nearby stops at Harrison (Red), Harold Washington Library (Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple), and Jackson-Red (Red).
The menu at Tamarind is reasonably priced, with most items costing less than $30. All major credit cards are accepted, including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.