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.
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.
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.
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.