How to Eat in Chinatown for Under $5
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Spice lovers and adventurous eaters alike rejoice at Uptown’s Lao Sze Chuan, a Sichuan mecca in Chicago. Begun by Tony Hu, the mastermind behind the Tony Gourmet Group and a graduate of China’s first culinary institution, Lao Sze Chuan promises authentic cuisine founded on high quality materials and ingredients, all prepared by chefs hailing from the restaurant’s regional namesake. With a diverse selection of saucy, hot dishes, you should top your table with Tony’s Chicken with Three Chili and one of the less conventional plates offered, like ginger pork stomach or pork intestine with pork blood cake. Not for the faint of heart (or faint of taste bud), Lao Sze Chuan will provoke you to expand your Chinese culinary horizons well beyond General Tso’s and white rice.
Get the dim sum. No questions, just trek up to the second floor of the Chinatown Square strip mall, take a seat in the dining room and await for your order of dim sum to be pulled up in a delivery cart. Pro top for getting a refill of the tea you're no doubt downing as well: leave the lid up.
This Armour Square Shanghainese resto doles out a wide variety of dishes, but some of their best options include their drunken chicken and succulent xiao long bao soup dumplings.
Loa Hunan is the only authentic Hunan restaurant in the Midwest. It's different from other Chinese restaurants because the foods much spicier (don't worry though, it isn't the numbing kind of spicy).
Sweet Station combines contemporary and traditional Chinese cooking practices for the perfect modern Hong Kong style Chinese. They've got you covered for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks.
Do we really need to convince you to go to a stellar Chinese/Asian-fusion restaurant IN Chinatown... ?
As the oldest bakery in Chinatown, having been started in the 1980s, this eatery has laid back, cafe filtered vibes. In addition to trying out the dim sum, turn your attention to the baked goods like sweet egg custard tarts and BBQ pork buns.
Chinatown’s Cai strays from other dimsum eateries by dodging the cart setup and offering a menu akin to your family photo album, but with portraits of ridiculously good-looking Chinese bites, and therefore the family you always wanted. The giant banquet hall is always packed, so embrace that you’ll be getting to know your neighbor’s elbow pretty well. Cai has some of the best shumai in the city; nibble on the har gow, or shrimp dumplings with paper-thin crystal wrapping.
If the urge to scarf down braised oxtail or jellyfish with a beef hind shank hits you at 1AM, this Chinese spot is there for you every day of the week. Moreover, on those weekend nights where you've been knocking back a few too many shots, you can come to this alcohol free space and substitute them for smoothies all the way up until 5AM.