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Chicago’s Chinatown isn’t particularly large, but the number of restaurants representing China’s many different cuisines feels endless. Plus, once you add the Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese restaurants also in the neighborhood, the food options become dizzying. Here are the best restaurants in Chinatown.
Potsticker House is technically south of what’s considered Chinatown, but the restaurant’s unique take on Chinese cuisine makes it an essential inclusion. While most Chinese restaurants in Chicago focus on foods from the Cantonese region – the southern regions of China – Potsticker House focuses on what they call “traditional Mandarin cuisine,” which draws inspiration from the central and northern reaches of China. Their potstickers don’t resemble the typical dumplings you find in most restaurants in Chicago. Instead, you get long, rolled dumplings that are both the right amount of greasy and crispy on the outside while juicy on the inside. They offer plenty of palate-friendly dishes, like Szechuan pork ribs, but have many adventurous items on the menu for those looking for a tasty change: stewed beef tendon in hot sauce is tastier than it sounds.
Chinatown’s Chiu Quon Bakery & Dim Sum focuses on the sweet as much as the savory. The mixed fruit cake is a highlight, though the cream cake and chestnut cake are also worth a try. Don’t let the stark look of the interior dissuade you – here, you’ll find some of the best decadent baked goods in Chicago.
Joy Yee opened in Evanston, IL in 1994, opening a second location in Chinatown two years later. The restaurant is known for its vast list of bubble teas, and Joy Yee has even gone as far as to add tapioca balls to their fruit smoothies. Other than that, Joy Yee also has fantastic shabu shabu, a Japanese dish that pairs boiled slices of meat and vegetables with a diverse selection of dipping sauces. Joy Yee’s true talent is their wide selection of food from China, Taiwan and Japan, offering fantastic chow mein and chow fun as well as tasty rice dishes like garlic pork and chicken teriyaki.
Among the more interesting choices, Bonchon is actually a fried chicken chain. In Korea, at least. In the Chicago area, Bonchon has only a handful of locations offering tasty Korean barbecue. Their fried chicken wings, strips and drumsticks are double fried, making them extra crispy on the outside. And yes, Bonchon’s spicy sauce is quite spicy, even for the seasoned wing-eater. Don’t worry, for those who can’t handle a lot of heat, their soy-garlic sauce hits the spot without the pain.
Happy Lamb Hot Pot is a chain with a fantastic location in Chinatown. The Mongolian hot pot cuisine offered by the restaurant is superb: you can boil lamb, beef, cabbage and more in a number of tasty broth bases that include tomato, milky bone marrow, and a spicy house broth. Their large selection of options ensures happiness for even the pickiest eaters.