Six Chinese restaurants not in Chinatown
Yes, the North Side—and even the suburbs—has good Chinese food, too.
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 lemongrass curry, and boneless Peking duck with Grand Marnier sauce. Don’t want to go out? Take advantage of the brisk delivery service. 2830 N Milwaukee Ave (773-227-0970). El: Blue to Logan. Bus: 56, 76, 82. Lunch (Mon–Sat), dinner. Average main course: $12.
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. 4936 N Broadway (773-271-1161). El: Red to Argyle. Bus: 22, 36, 92, 151. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Average main course: $9.
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. 1064 W Argyle St (773-878-6650). El: Red to Argyle. Bus: 36, 81, 151. Lunch, dinner (closed Tue). Average main course: $6.
You city dwellers might ask, Why drive to the ’burbs for Chinese when we’ve got Chinatown? But we swear that at this off-the-beaten-track spot (which also has a Naperville location) you’ll find noodles fresher than any in the city. Start with the dumplings—ethereal pockets of noodle skin encasing scallion-flecked pork—and move on to a heaping bowl of beef noodle soup. In this Chinese version of pho, the ginger, garlic, chiles, pickles and unbeatable long, soft noodles make this house signature stand out. 650 N Cass Ave, Westmont (630-323-9393). Lunch, dinner (closed Wed). Average main course: $8.
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. 5039 N Broadway (773-769-1254). El: Red to Argyle. Bus: 22, 36, 81, 92, 151. Lunch, dinner (closed Thu). Average main course: $6.
More than 20 years ago, Nai Tiao opened Great Sea, unveiling a now legendary soy-and-chile-glazed chicken wing. His daughter, Karen Lim, has taken these “Little Hotties” to Pilsen, and the food is the real deal. Egg rolls are stuffed with peppery cabbage and pork; fried rice is topped with caramelized shrimp; and the sweet-and-spicy namesake wings are as good as old man Tiao’s. 1502 W 18th St (312-929-2509). El: Pink to 18th. Bus: 9, 18, 60. Lunch, dinner (closed Mon). Average main course: $7.