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Jul 29, 2012 07:06 PM

Lao sze chuan

Went there for the second time this weekend and ordered their signature chicken dish. What is all the fuss?!?! I had it the last time too and thought it was just really hot spices on mediocre fried chicken bits. I ordered it again this time because I thought that I might have had a bad batch. Nope. It was not good. There was no flavor or tastiness. Just hot. I don't know why y'all love it so much.

Now if anyone knows where I can get really good beef chow fun, LMK. They dont have chow fun there. Thanks.

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  1. With the exception of hot pot, the Lao chain of restaurants are popular and well-known, but IMO, highly overrated.

    7 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      You mean the Tony Hu chain of restaurants, not the "Lao" chain, even if his "Tony Gourmet Group" restaurants tend to have the "Lao X X" name format. "Lao" [老] means "old" - when used in a restaurant name it implies (claims) it's been around for a while (snort!)** leading to implications of (claimed) "authenticity" or "traditional" etc etc...that sort of thing.

      ** He opens spanking new restaurants and affixes the "Lao X X" name to them...(guffaw)

      1. re: huiray

        Thanks for the clarification. I leaned something. In my ignorance is used the "Lao" designation because I don't now that everyone knows about the Tony Gourmet Group.

        1. re: huiray

          not sure if you've been to Lao Beijing, which used to be some other place, it ain't shiny and new, it's actually kinda gross which is why i like it.
          i've been to china a couple times, have a couple close chinese friends, and therefore all agree that the Tony Hu restaurants are generally authentic everday people chinese food and do a very good job of it. each restaurant has a few specialties from the regions from which the name is taken and again, very good, but you're not going to get 3-start or even 2-star dining at any true chinese restaurant. i ate at a michelin star chinese restaurant in hong kong last month and it was not that much different than lao shanghai.

          1. re: jbontario

            Taking over a restaurant and putting a new name on it isn't what is normally conveyed by the term as I described - the association tends towards a place that has been around as itself for many years - but, hey, the guy does what he wants. :-) I would agree that the food can be good, but what one should be wary of is the automatic linkage of such named places with good food, if anyone had the notion that it did.

            1. re: jbontario

              BTW, I somehow think your claim of "...but you're not going to get 3-start or even 2-star dining at any true chinese restaurant." might be disputed by various high-end Chinese restaurants around the world including in North American places like the SGV or Toronto or Vancouver. Do you also consider a place like Lung King Heen in HK ( to not be a "true Chinese restaurant"? Just wondering.

              1. re: huiray

                to pick the nits, i should have said "traditional" instead of the language i used. i was commenting more on the "feel" of what gets you three stars and it's not a big table with a lazy susan. I ate at Nanhai No. 1 last month, which has one star but was not pushing the envelope by any means. i have not been to either of the 3 star HK chinese cuisine restaurants but I would assume that they are not traditional.

        2. I've had the chicken dish you are talking about 4 times. Only once did I have it that it was head and shoulders above the rest. When I got the good batch, I understood the fuss. The other three times, I didn't get it either. For chow fun, I used to like Spring World (which, by the way, has been absorbed into Tony's empire, and is now a Lao Yunan - but still has svereal of the same menu offerings that Spring World had that I absolutely LOVED.) I'd try Little Three Happiness for stir fried noodle dishes. Generally, with chow fun, or just about any stir fried noodle dish, you have to explain how you want it. I like my noodles fried hard, so they get browned and have chewy-crispy bits.

          4 Replies
          1. re: gordeaux

            Thats exactly how I like it. I tell them I want the noodles extra crispy. (Same thing when I order hash browns!) Is chow fun a Yunan dish?

            1. re: lilmomma

              I suspect you don't have that much experience with "Chinese" cuisines (plural)? Sorry if I'm wrong.

              "Chow Fun" really is a sort of generalized term that describes a form of stir-fried or wok-fried (generally rice) noodles. It isn't a "Yunnan" or Yunnanese dish per se but is ubiquitous across many regional cuisines of China, albeit with greater emphasis on the Southern Chinese regions. Cantonese versions tend to be the ones that are more often thought of or referred to in many quarters, depending on who is talking about the generalized dish. :-) Certainly one looks for "wok hei" [another term usually rendered with the Cantonese pronunciation] in one's "chow fun".

              p.s. the romanized term/phrase "Chow Fun" is in fact Cantonese.

              1. re: huiray

                The reason why I asked is because Lao Sze Chuan did not have it on the menu and I found that odd. I have not been to a Chinese restaurant that did not make it. So I just assumed that the Lao chain of restaurants limits their offerings to the traditional dishes ot the specific region.

                1. re: lilmomma


                  Think of "Chow Fun" as in the same ball park as "Fried Chicken" and I think you'll begin to see that "It Depends". :-D