Best Chinese restaurants in Chicago
The chef at this ornate dinner and dim sum spot, Xi Xin Lin, has a mystical way with creamy egg-yolk buns, delicate free-form dumplings stuffed with shrimp and dried scallop and steamed rice-noodle crêpes paired with crunchy bits of celery. This is classed up dim sum at its most traditional, mirrored by the over-the-top, glitzy, gilded look of the second-story restaurant, making it a favorite pick for Chinese wedding banquets.
Owners Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo (formerly the duo behind the supper club X-Marx) are cooking the food of Macau—a former Portuguese colony along the South China Sea. As such, their menu is heavy with influences both Portuguese (bacalhau, salt cod) and Chinese (pot stickers, Szechuan peppercorns), not to mention any other forays toward which Conlon, the chef, is guided. If this convergence sounds like “fusion,” what’s remarkable is it certainly doesn’t taste like it: The food—especially the paella-like wonder that is the signature “fat rice” and the comforting crock of tofu, pork belly—is vibrant, personal and natural.
After his father passed away, Alan Yuen renovated his family’s chop suey house (even installing beautiful hardwood floors himself) and set about turning out solid Canto-American classics. Sesame beef and honey-walnut shrimp are joined by creations such as stir-fried seafood in a shredded potato “bird’s nest,” pan-seared salmon with champagne apple, and boneless Peking duck with Grand Marnier sauce. Don’t want to go out? Take advantage of the brisk delivery service.
At this Xi’an spot, order an array of small dishes to share with the table. Start with super thin slices of raw potato, soaking in sour and spicy sauce; hand-stretched noodles with lamb in a gamy broth; and tofu skin with celery in white vinegar sauce. But everyone at the table should order their own lamb flatbread—stuffed with tender, cumin-spiced lamb and tucked into seared, crisp bread, this is one dish you won't want to share.
For some, Sundays are for church. For others, it’s dim sum time. This spot offers one of the largest selections in town and proves the most consistent overall. People pack the giant banquet space to settle in for the barrage of carts that wheel by brimming with a dozen different dumplings (shrimp-peanut, chive and pork stand out); fluffy buns (barbecue pork and pan-fried veggie-pork are awesome); and various fried and steamed morsels of hangover-absorbing snacks. Don’t miss the taro puff, ribs, pot stickers and sweet egg-custard tarts.
The crackly skin attached to a juicy barbecue duck and a slab of “Macau” pork belly is like a primal call to fans of Cantonese-style roasted meats, and we’d recommend both, along with the perfectly cooked beans in the string bean “casserole” and the chubby rice noodles pan-fried in a lightly spicy XO sauce. But with extensive seafood offerings and an interesting dim sum lineup offered from early in the day to late in the evening, what we really recommend is going to the slick, contemporary dining room and choosing your own favorites.
This no-frills joint tempts passersby with lacquer-skinned roast ducks hanging by their necks in the steamed-up window. The menu is expansive but inexpensive: The Pei Par BBQ duck and the Hong-Kong–style barbecued pig are sublime in their simplicity, savory and slick with fat. Chinese broccoli arrives jade-green and crisp, and the beef chow fun comes out charred and tasting of the properly smoking wok. Even the egg rolls are notable, dotted with bits of roasted pork. Our advice? Order lots and eat the leftovers at home.
Tony Hu uses plenty of Szechuan pepper, dried chilies, garlic and ginger to create flavors that are incredibly addictive. Our favorites are Chengdu dumplings, crispy Chinese eggplant with ground pork, twice-cooked pork, mapo tofu, Szechuan prawns and “chef’s special” dry chili chicken. Trust us or choose at random—you won’t be disappointed.
Those ducks hanging in the window? Yeah, you’re going to want to order one—you’ll want to experience the interplay of the crispy skin, the soft fat and the rich, gamey meat. You’ll also want the spiced, hot shrimp encased in an addictively crisp and salty coating; the sweet roasted pork with scrambled egg over rice; and the fresh dumplings, so thin you can see the pink shrimp and cabbage hiding within.
The Chinatown restaurant fuses multiple Chinese cuisines together to yield dishes like the chili crab, huge Dungeness crabs cooked with curry, onions, ketchup and other ingredients for a spicy, messy, delicious meal. There's the usual suspects, like ma po tofu, but you're definitely rewarded when you try something new.