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.
Though its Cantonese and Mandarin cuisine reflects some of China's oldest culinary traditions, Dragon Inn's Chicago Heights location also nurtures an evolving menu that includes sushi. Specialties include the 9-ounce hong kong porterhouse steak and the crispy duck. Accompanying housemade sauces are customized to guests' tastes, adding flavor to entrees and egg rolls that are folded by hand and filled with pork, shrimp, and vegetables.
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.
At BC Osaka, the chefs aren’t merely makers of food. Instead, they’re ringmasters, orchestrating the lively chaos of a hibachi grill into a meal that’s one part entree and two parts performance. At the island hibachi stations, chefs show off their mastery of food prep and knife work as they elaborate on an ancient Japanese barbecue tradition, resulting in tasty meals of filet mignon, garlic lobster, and teriyaki chicken. Each showman-cook-in-training practices their craft in front of their veteran workmates⎯many of them with up to 25 years of experience⎯for at least six months before earning a spot behind the grill and the traditional steak-shaped epaulettes of a professional hibachi chef.
In addition to hibachi shows, BC Osaka also houses a sushi bar lined with red-leather barstools, where guests spin in anticipation of tempura-shrimp dragon rolls topped with creamy avocado fillets, or exotic morsels of sea urchin and giant clam. A buffet also sates any endless appetite that makes its way past the dining area’s dark polished wood and tasseled Japanese lanterns.
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.
Beneath hanging pendant lights and lanterns swathed in red, the chefs at Nan's Sushi craft rolls at an open counter as servers deliver westernized Chinese favorites and Japanese dishes to tables. Seafood-heavy appetizers feature mussels, scallops, and crab, and fried tofu and crispy wontons pitch in to fuel eyeballs as they consider the rest of the menu. Makimono and temaki sushi rolls are studded with tuna, avocado, smoked salmon, and other traditional ingredients, occasionally topped with a smattering of fish eggs or a single brontosaurus egg. Diners can order specialty sushi rolls to swap with tablemates, or mix and match sushi by the piece. The Chinese menu proffers popular dishes such as egg foo young, pepper-steak, and mu-shu dinner plates, all doused in a special sauce.