A Guide To Chicago's Best Chinese Restaurants

| © The Picture Pantry / Alamy
Daphne Chen

The range of international cuisines available in Chicago makes it one of the most diverse cities in Illinois. For regional and authentic Chinese food, locals usually head to Chinatown, where nearly every restaurant promises an incredibly flavorsome, inexpensive menu. Fantastic Chinese restaurants are also dotted elsewhere in the city, offering everything from traditional dishes to fusion and experimental food. We take a look at the best places to enjoy Chinese food in Chicago.

Galdones Photography | Fat Rice

Fat Rice

Fat Rice’s unique blend of Chinese, Portuguese, and South Asian flavors has earned it critical acclaim and numerous awards. Among its most popular dishes are the potstickers, which arrive both hot and crispy, and its namesake rice dish layered with Chinese sausage, Portuguese chicken, prawns, clams, tea eggs, and croutons. Other popular plates include piri piri chicken and hand-rolled rice noodles. The atmosphere is hip and casual, and the intimate space is lined with long communal tables and mismatched chairs.

Go 4 Food

Tucked away in old Chinatown is Go 4 Food, an award-winning Chinese fusion restaurant with both traditional and contemporary dishes. The restaurant uniquely offers the opportunity to enjoy a private dinner, where the restaurant prepares a custom, multi-course meal for a given budget and a specific number of guests – making it a great place to celebrate special occasions. The regular menu at Go4Food is both expansive and comprehensive. The crispy silver fish, Millionaire seafood fried rice and French-style beef tenderloin are especially flavorsome and perfectly illustrate Go 4 Food’s commitment to experimenting with new flavor combinations. Amidst the plethora of Chinese restaurants nearby, Go 4 Food’s quality and innovation sets it apart from the competition.

Shanghai Terrace

For an upscale and elegant dim sum experience, no place in the city rivals the Shanghai Terrace, perched on the top of the Peninsula Chicago Hotel. With an emphasis on Cantonese dishes, the dim sum menu features delicate plates with high-end ingredients such as dumplings with lobster and black truffle, bean curd rolls with scallop and fresh rice crepes. The Terrace also offers Peking duck prepared three ways – roasted and sliced according to tradition, cooked in a Chinese green mustard soup and finally, mixed with braised noodles. The interior is sophisticated, with Chinese silkscreens and elegant furniture, but the cozy outside terrace is the jewel in the crown. With an incredible view of the city and equally incredible food, Shanghai Terrace is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Image courtesy of Shanghai Terrace

Cai

There are several fantastic dim sum places in Chinatown, but Cai has one of the biggest selections of authentic dishes available in the city. Located on the second floor of the complex, the restaurant encapsulates the classic dim sum atmosphere – chaotic, loud, and full of clinking plates. A few carts still make rounds, but the majority of ordering is done from an illustrated menu full of glass wrapper dumplings, steamed ribs, radish cakes, and other delicious dishes. For those looking to get the complete experience, Cai also has fantastic tripe, tendon, and intestine dishes prepared with delicious flavor.

Great Sea Chinese Restaurant

Though ‘Chinese’ appears in its name, the owners are actually Korean, resulting in a menu that becomes a point of dialogue between Chinese and Korean cuisines. The signature dish at Great Sea Chinese Restaurant is the chicken wings – deep fried twice in the Korean fashion, cut lollipop style and piled high on the plate. Customers can also choose their level of spice for the sauce. Other dishes such as the black bean noodle (jiajiangmien), Mongolian beef, and spicy seafood noodles also highlight Great Sea’s fusion of styles. The place itself is casual and family-friendly, great for large groups looking for a fantastic meal.

Katy’s Dumpling House

Katy’s Dumpling House is located in the suburbs of Chicago. Katy’s is best known for its hand-made noodles, which are perfectly crafted and come drenched in flavorsome soups or stir-fried with fresh meat and vegetables. Also on Katy’s menu are traditional cold dishes such as pig ears and thinly-sliced beef, as well as fantastic dumplings. For Chicagoans dropping by on their way back to the city, or for visitors wishing to dine at home, the restaurant sells bags of frozen dumplings and fresh noodles to go.

Lao Sze Chuan

Frequent Chinatown visitors no doubt have their own favorite Tony Hu Lao location – Beijing, Ma La, Shanghai, to name but a few – but Lao Sze Chuan is usually considered one of the best, with its emphasis on spice and bold, classic favorites. The most popular dish is the crispy dry chili chicken, with chunks of double-fried chicken and dried hot peppers. Other popular dishes include the hot pot, with plentiful selections of fresh meat, seafood, and vegetables, and the double-cooked pork. Great for those seeking truly authentic dishes, this restaurant offers an intense kick of flavor and a relaxed atmosphere.

Sun Wah Bar-B-Que

Originally located in New York’s Chinatown, family-owned Sun Wah Bar-B-Que settled into its current location on Broadway in 2009, much to the delight of Chicagoans. The restaurant specializes in Hong Kong-style BBQ, with incredible roasted meats such as salt baked chicken, roasted pork, and barbecued spareribs. The space is most famous for its Beijing duck feast, featuring crisp and succulent roasted duck served three ways. The rest of the menu is equally as delicious, with authentic rice plates and Hong Kong-style lo mein. Sun Wah also has an impressive beverage menu with beer and cocktails, though it welcomes guests to BYOB. Situated in a minimalist, brightly lit space, Sun Wah is perfect for casual meet ups and family occasions.

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