Inside Red Violet

Given what a big city Chicago is—and what a big country China is—there are very few Chinese restaurants outside of Chinatown or the Argyle Street area worth their salt (or soy sauce). The restaurateurs behind a project under way at the corner of Hubbard and La Salle Streets aim to change that. Red Violet (121 W. Hubbard St.; no phone yet), an upscale 200-seat restaurant and lounge, is scheduled to open by the end of November, serving the food of Beijing, Sichuan, and Shanghai.

The head chef at Red Violet is Franky Fong, a veteran of Tony Hu’s well-loved Chinatown restaurants (Lao Sze Chuan, Lao Beijing, Lao Shanghai, Lao You Ju), and a native of southern China. Fong’s proposed menu for Red Violet includes:

• Foie gras wonton chicken soup
• Seafood hot and sour soup, with lobster, crab, and scallops
• Black crystal mushroom and edamame in wasabi vinegar sauce
• Stir-fried egg noodles with black truffle oil, wild mushrooms, and black pepper
• Kurobuta pork with pineapple, bell pepper, onion, and sweet and sour sauce

Cherie Cheung, one of the owners, estimates that diners will spend $30 or $40 a person, including drinks.

The name Red Violet has a literal meaning for the restaurant, Cheung says. “That’s big on our interior design, which will be mainly red and purple,” she says. Makes sense. Unlike “roses are red, violets are blue,” now that we think of it.