Best Chinese in Chicago: Where to find the best dim sum and more
Whether you're looking for dim sum, roast duck or other Chinese dishes, you'll find it at the best Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and beyond.
Chicago has a long lineage of Chinese restaurants, from Tony Hu's empire in Chinatown and beyond to Abe Conlon's hot spot, Fat Rice, in Logan Square. With some of the best Chicago restaurants serving pork buns, dim sum and roast duck, even the most seasoned eaters may be overwhelmed. That’s where we come in. We’ve unsheathed our chopsticks at Chicago's greatest and most authentic Asian eateries and distilled it all into this tidy list of the best Chinese restaurants in Chicago.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best Chicago restaurants
Cai The chef at this ornate dinner-and-dim sum spot, Xi Xin Lin, has a mystical way with creamy egg-yolk buns, delicate free-form dumplings stuffed with shrimp and dried scallop and steamed rice-noodle crêpes paired with crunchy bits of celery. This is classed up dim sum at its most traditional, mirrored by the over-the-top, glitzy, gilded look of the second-story restaurant, making it a favorite pick for Chinese wedding banquets. 2100 S Archer Ave, #2F (312-326-6888, caichicago.com). Lunch, dinner (dim sum served Mon–Fri 9am–4pm; Sat, Sun 8am–4pm). Average dim sum: $4.
Fat Rice Owners Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo (formerly the duo behind the supper club X-Marx) are cooking the food of Macau, a former Portuguese colony along the South China Sea. As such, their menu is heavy with influences both Portuguese (bacalhau, salt cod) and Chinese (pot stickers, Szechuan peppercorns), not to mention any other forays toward which Conlon, the chef, is guided. If this convergence sounds like “fusion,” what’s remarkable is it certainly doesn’t taste like it: The food—especially the paella-like wonder that is the signature “fat rice” and the comforting crock of tofu, pork belly and steamed fish called Balichang & Catfish—is vibrant, personal and natural. 2957 W Diversey Ave (773-661-9170, eatfatrice.com). Dinner (Tue–Sat). Average share plate: $14.
Friendship Chinese Restaurant 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, friendshiprestaurant.com). Lunch (Mon–Sat), dinner. Average main course: $15.
Furama 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, furamachicago.com). Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Average main course: $9.
Hon Kee 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). Breakfast, lunch, dinner (closed Tue). Average main course: $6.
Lao Hunan Tony Hu’s Hunanese contribution to Chinatown indeed has an eccentric Chairman Mao theme, but don’t let that distract you from the food, which is intense, spicy, oily and delicious. “Home fed chicken” (roughly equating to free-range) is hung for two days to dry age before it’s lightly smoked over a wok filled with dry rice and spices. Chef Fada Zhang, a native of Hunan, uses the same technique for his “famous Hunan preserved pork,” smoking it over a fragrant haze of toasted dry rice, whole star anise and cinnamon bark. For contrast, order the cool, thin rectangles of “jade tofu” surrounded by a slick of chili oil brightened with cilantro and scallions. 2230 S Wentworth Ave (312-842-7888, tonygourmetgroup.com). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $10.
Lao Sze Chuan Tony Hu has spots in Chinatown for Shanghainese food (Lao Shanghai) and the cuisine of Beijing (Lao Beijing), but neither draws the nightly lines of heat-seekers that this spot does. Hu uses plenty of Szechuan pepper, dried chilies, garlic and ginger to create flavors that are incredibly addictive. Our favorites are Chengdu dumplings, crispy Chinese eggplant with ground pork, twice-cooked pork, mapo tofu, Szechuan prawns and “chef’s special” dry chili chicken. Trust us or choose at random—you won’t be disappointed. 2172 S Archer Ave (312-326-5040, tonygourmetgroup.com). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $10.
MingHin Cuisine The crackly skin attached to a juicy barbecue duck and a slab of “Macau” pork belly is like a primal call to fans of Cantonese-style roasted meats, and we’d recommend both, along with the perfectly cooked beans in the string bean “casserole” and the chubby rice noodles pan-fried in a lightly spicy XO sauce. But with extensive seafood offerings and an interesting dim sum lineup offered from early in the day to late in the evening, what we really recommend is going to the slick, contemporary dining room and choosing your own favorites. 2168 S Archer Ave (312-808-1999, minghincuisine.com). Breakfast, lunch, dinner (dim sum served 8am–4pm, 9pm–2am). Average main course: $11.
Sun Wah Bar-B-Q Restaurant 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, sunwahbbq.com). Lunch, dinner (closed Thu). Average main course: $10.