A Guide to Chinatown: Where to Eat, Shop, and Play

Celebrate the new year all over again on the South Side

Photos: Travis Roozée

This bustling century-old neighborhood offers endless dining and shopping options, but here are the stops that should definitely be on your itinerary.

CAI
[1] Chef Xi Xin Lin transfers 30 years’ experience cooking dim sum in Hong Kong and Toronto to Chicago, doling out juicy shumai (pork dumplings) and creamy egg yolk buns at the upscale 250-seat spot. 2100 S. Archer Ave., 312-326-6888, caichicago.com

CHINA PLACE LIQUOR CITY
[2] The four-year-old liquor mart carries more than 50 blends of baijiu (stiff white liquor), rice wine, and sake, plus the usual California cabernets—perfect for a pit stop before a BYO wine night at Triple Crown [10]. 2105 S. China Pl., 312-225-8118

CHINATOWN BAZAAR
[3] Pick up a colorful pack of lanterns or a silk clutch at this one-stop shop for, well, every gift you can think of. 2221 S. Wentworth Ave., 312-225-1088

HEADQUARTER SALON
[4] The popular hairstylist known only as Norris turns out incredibly affordable dos (under $35 for cut, blow-dry, and style for men and women). 2145 S. China Pl., 312-842-1353, headquarterchicago.com

Small Chinatown map
Click to view the full map.

LAO MALA
[5] The latest endeavor from the Sichuan-trained, Chicago-based restaurateur Tony Hu eschews his ­regional-cuisine theme, pulling from all of China (ma la refers to the numbing spiciness of eating Sichuan peppercorns) for the snappiest menu east of Hong Kong. 2017 S. Wells St., 312-225-8989, tonygourmetgroup.com

LAO SZE CHUAN
[6] Hu’s first venture, which turns 15 this year, still dishes out the tastiest entrées from Sichuan Province—and sees lines out the door every Friday night. The dry chili chicken alone is worth the wait. 2172 S. Archer Ave., 312-326-5040

PHOENIX
[7] The 17-year-old dim sum mainstay serves up delicious barbecue pork buns and deep-fried taro dumplings, but the pièce de résistance is the Peking duck, carved and served tableside. 2131
S. Archer Ave., 312-328-0848, chinatownphoenix.com

SAINT ANNA’S BAKERY
[8] Indulge in a gooey egg tart, a savory sesame ball, or another tasty treat at this old-school Hong Kong–inspired café—just prepare for some snark from the lovable bakers. 2158 S. Archer Ave., 312-225-3168

TEN REN TEA AND GINSENG
[9] The international teashop stocks more than 100 flavors, from the everyday to the eclectic: jasmine and green share shelf space with chrysanthemum and genmaicha. 2247 S. Wentworth Ave., 312-842-1171, tenren.com

TRIPLE CROWN
[10] The Cantonese dim sum carts brim with marinated chicken feet and har gow dumplings, and the fresh lobster and crab, plucked from the aquarium-lined back wall, always delight. 2217 S. Wentworth Ave., 312-842-0088, triplecrownchicago.com

WOKS ’N’ THINGS
[11] This culinary emporium teems with Asian cooking essentials, from sushi mats to rice boilers and dumpling steamers, but the wall of woks impresses most: The rounded pans are available in cast iron or stainless steel, from 12 to 28 inches, and even one preseasoned. 2234 S. Wentworth Ave., 312-842-0701
 

THREE WAYS TO RING IN THE NEW YEAR

The Year of the Snake officially starts February 10, with celebrations in the city lasting all week. The Chinatown Chamber of Commerce honors the Lunar New Year with a special dinner on February 12. For info, chicagochinatown.org. . . . The annual Chinese New Year parade kicks off at 1 p.m. on February 17, marching along Wentworth Avenue from 24th Street to Cermak Avenue. . . .The festivities wrap up with Navy Pier’s luminous Lantern Celebration on February 24.

Share

Advertisement

Submit your comment