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Jan 19, 2008 06:34 PM

Best: Chinese in Chinatown, DimSum Chinatown

Could you give me some ideas for the best chinese in and dim sum in Chinatown? What about best Chinese on or near MagMile and Best Family-owned diner near Mag Mile?

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  1. Best Chinese in Chinatown - Lao Sze Chuan ( ). I don't know about dim sum, though.

    One noteworthy Chinese restaurant off Michigan Avenue is Shanghai Terrace ( ). It is in the Peninsula, a luxury hotel. I had dinner there a few weeks ago. The food there was excellent, the service was impeccable, and the decor was quite luxurious. I wouldn't call it *better* than (or worse than) a more conventional Chinese restaurant, like Lao Sze Chuan; it's just *different*. Some people would probably be horrified at the prospect of paying $90/person (including very moderate alcohol and tax/tip) for Chinese food, but when you compare that against paying the same amount or more at many nicer contemporary American restaurants, it's not unreasonable in that perspective. (FWIW, I enjoyed it, I'm glad I tried it, but I probably wouldn't go back.)

    There are other, moderately priced Chinese restaurants in the Michigan Avenue area. The two most popular are probably Ben Pao, a member of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group (pretty good, but no Lao Sze Chuan) and Big Bowl, a stir-fry place. Szechwan House is still around, too, but I haven't been there in years.

    As for diners, the area around North Michigan Avenue is expensive real estate. I'm not even sure what corresponds to a "diner" in that area; diners are more of an East Coast phenomenon, one that you can sometimes find here, but generally in outlying city neighborhoods (e.g. Golden Nugget) and not so much downtown. You might have better luck considering the kinds of restaurants that are here, which tend to be a bit more specialized, rather than looking for a concept that predominates back in your home town but isn't nearly as common here. For example, unlike East Coast diners, Chicago places where a lot of people go for breakfast and lunch (e.g. Lou Mitchell's) often aren't open for dinner, and vice versa, and we tend not to have a lot of restaurants with enormous menus with many different kinds of food on them. Some, but nowhere near as many, particularly downtown.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Old school Chinatown for a quiet dinner of Peking Duck & Lobster, you have to go with House of Fortune. Dim Sum, you're going to be better off in LA/SanFran, but if you must, Phoenix should get your fix.

    2. As far as diners are concerned, the closest in the area is:

      Tempo Cafe
      6 E Chestnut St
      Chicago, IL 60611-2012
      Phone: (312) 943-4373

      It's very popular for breakfast and, since it's 24/7, with revelers staggering off of Rush street in the early morning hours.

      You might also hear mention of Ed Debevic's. a tourist-central faux diner that I would never recommend to serious eaters, but kids seem to like the show.

      1. I have to admit I love Ben Pao. It's Lettuce Entertain You and not 100% authentic but I love their dragon noodles (lots of kick). It's my favorite take out Chinese.

        For dim sum, Phoenix in Chinatown is usually decent.

        1. I just had the best dimsum I've ever had in Chicago this past weekend at Shui Wah in Chinatown. They don't do carts, which means everything you order comes out to your table piping hot. If you're looking for good dimsum, this place is definitely worth trying!

          Shui Wah (Chinatown Mall)
          2162 S Archer Ave