The Lunar New Year was Monday, January 23, and people are getting ready to celebrate The Year of the Dragon parade on January 29. Great food, of course, is central to any celebration and knowing where to find it is key. Here are a few of my favorite places to stop in Chinatown:
Chi Cafe (2160-A S. Archer Avenue) looks like a mod cafeteria, but the food is authentic and homey. Don't be afraid of dishes with fried intestines, duck's tongues, tripe or kidney on the menu; they're made with just as much love as yellow chives and shrimp with scrambled eggs. Admittedly, most of us would be more comfortable with congee (pure comfort food dish made with rice and broth) or stir-fried veggies like the green beans. Everything comes out fast and tasty, and the food is reasonably priced. Bonus? If you find yourself craving fried rice in the middle of the night, they're open until 2a.m. during the week and until 5a.m. on the weekends.
Lao You Ju (2002 South Wentworth Avenue #100) is the latest spot by restaurateur Tony Hu to open in Chinatown. The modern, inventive interior is reflected in the menu choices, too. I like the comfort of the Fluffy pancake, elegance of the Honey Lotus Roots with Sticky Rice, and the fire of the Dragon Beard Beef. It's a great place to bring a large group of people and order a wide range of items from the menu or to settle into a comfortable booth and make a meal of appetizers.
MingHin Cuisine (2168 S Archer Avenue) is another late night spot in Chinatown! If you want reasonably-priced dim sum, they serve it until 2a.m. I prefer MingHin to more popular spots like Phoenix because the atmosphere is elegant, and it's not nearly as crowded. Plus they photograph every single thing on the menu, so I can be more confident about what I'm ordering. Fish balls, siu mai, and egg yolk buns are all delicious though I also enjoy the sesame balls and various steamed dumplings.
Whether it's dim sum, stirfry or BBQ... however you choose to celebrate the Year of the Dragon, Chinatown is the place to go!