HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
Apr 17, 2001 10:13 AM

Is Sun Wah BBQ (on Argyle) closed?

  • z

My wife went by there the other day to pick us up some roast duck and said it looked not just closed for the day but for good.

Does anyone know its status?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I had lunch there Tuesday April 10th and it was business as usual- and I just called (April 17th) and they're open until 9:30 tonight. Sun Wah is closed on Thursdays- not your standard restaurant day off. Before relizing this, I went up there on a Thursday and thought the same thing. Because they don't leave slabs of pork, roast ducks and those tasty yellow cuttlefish hanging in the window on their day off, the familiar storefront can look quite abandoned.
    ALSO... If you like squiddy things, be sure and try the fried baby cuttlefish (not on the menu). Lightly dusted with salt, pepper and flour, and quick fried with slivered red & green bell pepper and a touch of hot pepper- hao chi!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mark

      Thanks, Mark for the info especially the cuttlefish.

      I am pretty sure it was a thursday that she stopped by and am glad to here that we were mistaken.

      1. d
        david hart nelson

        As a former Chicagoan who often returns and eats when he does, I read about Sun Wah on this site and gave it a try. I was very disappointed. I found the BBQ dry and uninteresting and the wantons dreary. I'm always looking for a new spot when I'm in town but Sun Wah is not it -- at least for me.

        Dave Nelson

        7 Replies
        1. re: david hart nelson


          sorry you were disappointed. I have always been happy with Sun Wah's stuff (though I have never had the wontons and probably woudn't think too in a place with meat hanging all around me). One question did you get bbq . . . or roast . . . for my money roast duck, pork whatever is always better.

          Mark, earlier in this thread, you had mentioned the baby cuttlefish, i asked about these but wasn't able to communicate my needs clearly--is there another name i should be using? (in mandarin or cantonese?) and while I am on the subject of my inability to communicate- has anyone seen a copy of jim mccawley's "The Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters"? I have had heard about this legendary book for years (which is now out of print) and wondered if anyone who has actually seen it could tell me if it is actually of any use.

          1. re: zim

            I've been trying around uptown alot lately and so have tried a couple of things at Sun Wah. The BBQ duck was very good: tender and juicy, but the fat under the skin was thick and a little overwhelming. I was much happier with the roast duck I had yesterday, inwhich the excess fat had mostly melted away. I was especially pleased by the little bowl of duck juice that came alongside: intenselt spiced with more complicated flavors than I can hope to describe. I'm considering just trying to buy a pint of that juice to pour over rice: phenomenal. I did try the deep fried cuttle fish last night, but was underwhelmed: it offered a little too much resistance to my teeth, and wasn't particularly flavorful. Is there another dish with infant cuttlefish that I need to ask for special? Last night there was a choice between deepfried and sauteed in black bean sauce, but i didn't see any babies.

            On the other hand, I was very pleased by the cuttlefish I tried at Silver Seafood, a chinese joint several significant notches up the cleanliness scale (not that that sort thing matters a whole lot) from Sun Wah at just north of lawrence on the east side of broadway. These little guys were deepfried in a salt and pepper batter (with octopi alongside) with little chunks of sauteed green and red peppers and slices of fresh ginger: very tender, very toothsome, and very nice. The rest of the menu at this place looks interesting: they have everything written in vietnamese and english and chinese (with the exception of the banquet style menu, which is all in chinese and vietnamese. The owner, despite my insistence to the contrary, told me that I probably wouldn't like the items on the banquet menu, as they were better for Asians to enjoy). But I look forward to convincing him that I'll try anything. They've got duck web, and congee, and chitlins, and chicken feet etc.. Has anyone else sampled their menu?: they only just opened in August.

            The owner is a vietnamese born, raised in china, 15-20 year veteran of the neighborhood with a hong-kong trained chef and a very charming personality. We also tried the sesame chicken (ok) and the szechuan string beansm which were very fresh and squeaky green but lacked real fire on the spice meter. There's a lot there I'd like to try.

            1. re: Seth Zurer

              seth, I love the sauce too. I am attaching a link to a question i asked on the sf board for guidance in getting more of the stuff. As I noted my cuttlefish adventures at sun wah have left something to be desired and i was hoping someone who knew *exactly* what to order would help out - mark had mentioned cuttlefish that were off the menu.

              I'll definitely give silver seafood a try.

            2. re: zim

              You can’t just pick up McCawley’s book and start reading menus; it seems to require a fair amount of study. At least that’s been my experience. I bet it would be worth the effort but I haven’t gotten through it yet. Several months ago, when Lao Sze Chuan had a separate menu in Chinese, I started working my way through the book so I would be able to order the interesting stuff without Tony’s help. Now that their entire menu is in English I don’t have as much incentive. The book has been out of print for quite a while and is very hard to find. I heard a rumor the U of C Press was going to reissue it but my email to them several months ago went unanswered.

              1. re: Rene G

                I had heard that rumor as well, by the way did you see that there is a used copy being sold at Amazon for $180.00?

                1. re: Rene G

                  McCawley's fine book is back in print as of a few years ago. Alan Hoenig also has a book on food translations, with another one promised, via EZChinesey.com

                  How can people not update these threads in close to a decade?

                  ~ Kiran <entropy@io.com>