The wok-frying chefs at The Formosa Cafe stock eclectic lunch and dinner menus with a variety of authentic Chinese dishes. Starter items include the nanjing chicken lettuce wraps ($6), which enrobe wok-charred chicken and veggies like the powder-blue sport coat that perpetually enrobed Ben Franklin. Entrées include gingery sea shrimp basking in sun-dried black-bean sauce ($15 for dinner; $8 for lunch) and a Hong Kong-style U Goo Gai, packed with hoisin-doused almond cashew chicken and a veggie medley ($12 for dinner; $7 for lunch). Traditional rice-wine-laced vegetable lo mein sates vegetarian cravings ($10 for dinner; $7 for lunch), and ying and yang treats ($6 for two) such as the brown-sugar-and-banana dessert wonton satisfy sweet hankerings.
Crisp peapods, plump cloves of garlic, and succulent chili peppers are just a few of the fresh ingredients filling Gong Ho's kitchen. Chefs fold the fresh produce and spices into a variety of Chinese favorites, from chicken almond ding dotted with onions, mushrooms, and crunchy water chestnuts, to fried rice studded with bean sprouts, green onion, and juicy morsels of barbecue pork. Steaming bowls of wonton soup also emerge from the kitchen, followed by juicy barbecue spare ribs or platters of moo shoo beef. Of course, to get the best taste of what the kitchen has to offer, diners won't want to overlook one of the restaurant's signature dishes, such as Treasures of the Sea—a mountain of rice topped with a bountiful assortment of lobster, shrimp, scallop, and Chinese vegetables––or the battered, deep-fried Phoenix chicken, which makes a great leftover since it mysteriously replenishes itself when re-warmed.
"The name would suggest that dumplings are the draw here," says the Chicago Reader of Katy's Dumpling House, "but it's the fresh homemade noodles that instantly turn unsuspecting diners into fervent members of the cult of Katy's." Beyond the restaurant's expansive front windows hung with neon-lit Chinese characters, chefs simmer those noodles with rich, savory beef broth, fry them with shrimp, and pair them with pickled turnip in pork broth soup. The dumplings are nothing to scoff at, however—filled with fennel-laced pork or beef with scallions, the Chicago Tribune celebrates the delicate starch pockets as "delicious" and "awe-inspiring". Beyond the restaurant's namesake dish, a range of traditional Chinese recipes also satisfies in such forms as moo shu chicken and eggplant in garlic sauce.
Named one of the city's best Chinese restaurants by Naperville magazine in 2009, House of Emperor has satisfied cravings for Chinese fare for the past 22 years. The spacious dining room provides ample space for groups to gather and enjoy large servings of filet of sole, chinese broccoli, and general tso's chicken, or run in circles around their table as they recover from brain freezes induced by sips of banana or honeydew smoothies.
Thirty years ago, Chef Wu's generations-old beef noodle soup recipe became the culinary foundation for a restaurant where authentic Chinese dishes fuse with one another to create a fresh, new cuisine. Flavors taken from the Sichuan region of China take on modern, continental influences, cloaking steak, seafood, and tofu in rich, piquant sauces with citrus, umami, and cream bases. Beloved American Chinese classics such as shrimp and walnuts are updated with the inclusion of unexpected touches such as crisp candied walnuts, and others, including tea-smoked duck, adhere to traditional flavors taken from local Earl Grey rivers.
Veteran chefs prepare Stir Crazy’s Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes on sizzling woks right in the dining room. So while diners-to-be ponder the menu of more than 50 traditional and innovative Asian creations, they'll witness knives quartering veggies and flames lapping at the edges of the wok as the sights, smells and sounds of the kitchen come alive around them. Should your taste buds riot at the sight of all this mouth-watering action, satisfy them with an appetizer like the Ahi tuna and avocado poke ($8), a spicy stack of fresh fish and cool veggies. For main courses, choose from an array of entrees like the sweet and sour chicken, a dish featuring tender pieces of crispy chicken tossed with broccoli, red and green peppers, onions, carrots, and pineapple in a sweet and tangy sauce ($12.50). Or manage your intake with the Crazy Feature menu, which offers smaller-in-portion but towering-in-flavor classics like Mongolian beef or sesame chicken, served with a crispy veggie spring roll (all $8.88).