Food & Drink

Next-level Chinese in River North

If the sight of 10,000 drummers marching in unison, gymnasts literally flying through the air, and a Chinese pop star belting out tunes from on top of a giant, spinning globe during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics raised one universal concern in America, it was "There is no way these dudes haven't developed some next-level lo mein that I'm not eating!". Thankfully, Red Violet's giving America's Chinese food a face lift fit for the times, all in a sleek, bi-level 200-seater interspersing antique-style vases and pottery with red banquettes and violet accents, which aren't nearly as annoying as Veruca Salt's.

Start off with some soup, whether Pork Wonton amped up w/ foie gras, or the Imperial Hot & Sour, packed with crab & shrimp and topped with fresh black truffles, before moving to spicy pig's ear w/ shallots on endive, and Shao Hsing wine consomme jelly that makes a nest for Cold Drunken Chicken, just like your bed after another night spent avoiding fights at bars. And while there'll be classics like carved-to-order Peking duck, mains'll also count wok-seared Wagyu with pistachios and spicy bean sauce, "signature" fried rice studded w/ scallops, asparagus, and caviar, and steamed king crab legs w/ onion and ginger salsa, not the preferred dance of Brian Scalabrine, as he only does The White Samba.

And with examples like the gin/lime/cucumber Kowloon Park, the martini list comes in at 30 tipples strong, which should be a breeze to get through if you stick around for this place's entire opening ceremony.