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Mar 10, 2008 08:41 PM

Dim sum redux & more; requests

Sorry, I know the “I’m coming to town” genre is annoying, so I have been trying to do my homework reading old posts, and I appreciate all the great eating and writing you locals have been doing. But, well, I am coming to town (Hyatt Regency at E. Wacker / Michigan for a conference later this week), and would appreciate any recommendations in the following categories:

1. Dim sum: Seems like Happy Chef, Shui Wah, Phoenix (upstairs) and “little” Three Happiness get about equal representation on faves lists of well-traveled chowhounds. Any update on this? Any of them gone dramatically up or down recently?

2. Interesting Asian for dinner, location not important. Sounds like for Thai, Thai Sookdee is one of the best. I get the impression that there are a lot of good but standard Vietnamese places on Argyle. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bun or pho thai (if you’re ever in Atlanta, try Com Vietnamese on Buford Hwy; great grilled meats, and be sure not to miss the minced duck in grape leaves), but am looking for that something extra, like at The Slanted Door in SF, or O Chame in Berkeley (ok, those are Thai and Japanese fusion respectively, but you get the idea). Or Indonesian, Malaysian, Burmese ... (did you ever eat at Irrawaddy on Lombard in SF? Apparently it’s closed...the smoked eggplant scrambled eggs were to die for).

2a. Even though I’m intent on dim sum for Sunday brunch, I wouldn’t say no to Chinese for the Saturday dinner slot if there’s a strong reco. I tried searching but wasn’t successful at narrowing down the results, so reviews or a link would be appreciated.

3. Hyde Park for lunch. Sounds like things haven’t changed much since I was a student and later a resident 1985 - 1993. Medici / Thai 55 / Cedars for nostalgia, or Café Korea. (Are Jimmy’s and the Tiki Lounge still around?) So, just checking if anything has opened up recently that’s worth a mention, or whether we should eat elsewhere before heading down LSD.


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  1. For Chinese, I personally am not all that crazy about dim sum; the very best Chinese food I've had has been at other Chinese places, particularly Lao Sze Chuan ( ) in Chinatown Mall. I've seen Double Li also praised here but have not been there yet.

    For Thai, although I love Thai Sookdee best, if you're staying downtown you may as well go to TAC Quick, since it's a lot closer than Evanston. Unless you really love a great tom kha gai, in which case go to Thai Sookdee. ;)

    1. I too do not really go outta my way to get dim sum here. If I'm entertaining out of town guests, then maybe.

      I'm really not big into Asian + whatever fusion, I'm more straightforward, but you MIGHT be interested in these places:
      Le Lan

      Le Colonial

      Chinese - judging by what you've posted, maybe Opera would fit the bill? Opera is a bit more upscale than the standard Chinatown joint. It will cost a tad more as well.

      Hyde Park:
      Lunch on Tuesday - Sat, I think.

      I have to suggest, since it appears you are a semi adventurous eater, the 2nd largest population of Indian shops and restuarants in North America. It's on Devon Avenue, and sprawls E and W of Western Avenue. Are you an Indian food fan? If so, you will be missing out on one of this city's treasures that does not get NEARLY enough love as it should from visitors. One fusion place that I REALLY like (simply because I can usually steer those unfamiliar with Indian food to it) is Vermillion:

      Another upscale (ish) Indian food recommendation is Marigold:

      If you are interested in Indian / Pakistani restaurants along Devon Avenue, please ask.
      There are a lot of them, and some are real dives, and others are a tad bit more nice.

      For straight up Thai, in a casual setting, my choice would be TAC Quick.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gordeaux

        All excellent recommendations from Gordeaux. Incidentally, Vermilion is unique in that it's a fusion of Indian cuisine with Latin cuisine. It may sound odd, but it works.

        One other possibility in the upscale Asian vein is Shanghai Terrace. This is an extremely upscale Chinese restaurant; it's located in the Peninsula, one of our top luxury hotels. The food is very good indeed, as you would expect. The only caveat is that you'll be paying "contemporary American prices" (i.e. $80-100/person including tax/tip/alcohol) for Chinese food, which may or may not be an issue.

      2. Le Colonial is probably the closet comparable to Slanted Door in SF.

        Chef Tony - makes some solid Chinese food. Nothing too americanized; more traditional; I like it.

        1. re hyde park- jimmy's is still open (and smoke free if you can believe it).
          be careful with cedar's since it has probably moved since you've last been there. it is now located in the plaza on 53rd between university and kimbark (2 down from a harold's chicken shack).
          2 newer restaurants have opened- chant opened in the 53rd st noodles location (run by the same people) and jerry kleiner's restaurant, park 52, is supposed to open "mid to late march."
          all the other u of c standbys you mentioned are still there as well. there is a lengthy thread on hyde park here:
          checkerboard lounge is a great option, website says it opens at 11am daily, although i have never been for lunch.
          my personal recc would be to get the best sandwich i've had in chicago at university market (next to the med) and wander around campus reliving the glory days. just stay out of the reg. :)

          2 Replies
          1. re: lp veg

            Thanks everyone for the great recommendations. I think I see TAC Quick and Lao Sze Chaun in my immediate future. Yes, gordeaux, I love good Indian food, and would appreciate help winnowing the Devon Ave. wheat from the chaff. I remember discovering mango pickle there 20 years ago. In an effort to reciprocate, let me recommend Panahar (Bangladeshi) in Atlanta, or Vic's Chaat in Berkeley.

            Thanks again. I'll report back.

            1. re: southbound

              One place I always recommend is Khan BBQ. It's right on the corner of Devon and Wester. SW corner. A standard meal for two I would recommend would be:
              Broasted Chicken
              Chicken Boti
              Aloo Gobi, or a spinach dish
              Two or three paratha or naan - whichever you prefer. (I'm more of a paratha person)

              You'll have leftovers.

              For Vegetarian only, I'd go with Uru-Swati:
              2629 W Devon Ave
              Chicago, IL 60659
              (773) 262-5280
              Closed Tuesday
              Another decent meat place would be Sabri Nehari:
              Sabri Nehari
              2502 W Devon
              Chicago, IL

              Or Usmaniya
              Which is a few blocks E of Khan's on the other side of the street. This place has a wee bit more ambience.

              Best ambience, I think, would be Tiffin, although I think the food is better at other places.
              2536 West Devon Avenue
              Chicago, IL 60659
              (773) 338-2143

              There are a LOT more, too, but those are some of MY thoughts. If you wanna get some real decent food and a "cabbie joint" ambience, I'd highly suggest
              Gharab Naweez
              Ghareeb Nawaz
              2032 W. Devon Avenue,
              Chicago, IL

              the Hyderbad House on the S side of street (there is a bigger Hyderbaad House across the street from this smaller one last time I was there:)
              Hyderabad House
              2225 W Devon Ave
              Chicago, IL 60659

              You might also wanna visit Patel Bros for Indian Spices:
              Patel Bros.
              2542 W Devon Ave
              Chicago, IL 60659
              (773) 764-1857

              King Sweets or Tahoora for treats, snacks:

              2345 W Devon Ave (might have moved, but still on devon, and only a few blocks away if this is not correct address)
              Chicago, IL 60659
              (773) 743-7272

              King Sweets:
              2308 W Devon Ave
              Chicago, IL 60659
              (773) 262-8001

              If you like Indian Food, you will be missing out if you do not spend a little time on Devon. Like I said, there are plenty of other places too on this street.

          2. The Tiki Lounge has gone away and its sign is prominently displayed somewhere in a student apartment, which makes me sad because I heard it was legendary in its day (I never got to visit the place AB 2005).

            Lovers of the Old Cedars of Lebanon say that the newer, trendier version just doesn't match up.

            For Hyde Park, I always suggest making a trip to Rajun Cajun, still solid, still good.