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Best dining experience during a Federal raid

Chinatown, Food & Drink No Comments »

Lao Sze Chuan

Chef Tony Hu’s flagship restaurant at the western entrance into Chinatown Mall is peerless among Chinese dining in Chicago. Authentic yet accessible, Hu has crafted an encyclopedic ode to the spicy, sweet cuisine of China’s Sichuan province while also offering a smattering of more well-known dishes from other regions. Unfortunately, the FBI thought Hu was allegedly just as creative with his books as he was with his cooking, and federal agents raided his numerous restaurant locations last year.

2172 S. Archer, 312.326.5040,

Best of Chicago 2015

Best cheap eats feast in Chinatown

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Richland Center food court

Decent dining deals are available at many Chinatown restaurants, but the best combo of value, quality and selection can be found at the Richland Center food court, located underground, adjacent to Chinatown Square. Visitors can’t go wrong with the excellent skewers at Lao Pi BBQ, or the fresh, plentiful dumplings at Qing Xian Yuan. Another option is to grab a sixer, order one thing from each vendor, and have a feast.

2002 S. Wentworth, 312.225.2828

Best of Chicago 2015

Best neighborhood 5K

Chinatown, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Chinatown 5K
After eleven years, the course for this neighborhood 5K offers runners a rare opportunity to run under the “Welcome to Chinatown” arches and down a blocked-off Wentworth Avenue. The unique pre- and post-race parties and the relatively small turnout (around 500 runners) makes it a bit of a hidden gem in the Chicago running world.

Best of Chicago 2012

Best canoe or kayak launch on the Chicago River

Chinatown, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Ping Tom Memorial Park
Those of us brave (or foolish) enough to take a canoe or kayak out on the Chicago River know that places to launch without membership or some kind of fee are limited. The ever-expanding Ping Tom Memorial Park offers one the only free put-ins open to the public. Just a short way north from the 19th Street park entrance, urban river folk can find an architecturally wondrous cascading cement staircase reaching all the way down to the water. Paddling south takes you under the old Canal Street train bridge, a mysterious-looking structure that still lifts for large boats. Or better yet, head north. You’ll find yourself between downtown’s grand edifices within a half hour. Just be on the lookout for Chicago’s many touring boats and taxis. They’re bigger and faster than you.

Ping Tom Memorial Park, 300 West 19th,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best hidden park

Category, Chinatown, City Life No Comments »

Photo: Kristine Sherred

Ping Tom Memorial Park

Nestled along the Chicago River just below the 18th Street bridge in Chinatown, Ping Tom Memorial Park is a little-known slice of tranquility. Featuring a children’s playlot, pagoda-style pavilion and Chinese landscaping elements, the park is notable for the feeling of seclusion it provides. Set across the water from warehouse space and behind the residential cul de sac of Chinatown Square, the place would appear to have been forgotten in the busy hustle of urbanity if it weren’t for its neatly manicured lawns. The CTA train, elevated on concrete piers, runs like a monorail along Ping Tom’s eastern edge.

300 West 19th

Best of Chicago 2010

Best Chinese herb shop

Chinatown, Goods & Services No Comments »

Nam Bac Hang

Some might say it is an old-fashioned apothecary, with natural potions, teas, herbs and leaves conjuring visions of “Romeo and Juliet”’s Friar Lawrence, innocently mixing planta to bring the couple together. But with a back wall filled with almost 200 quart-sized jars containing sinewy roots, black barks and odd-colored stones and beans, some might also think it Chinese Voodoo. Either way, the Nam Bac Hang Herb shop is a far cry from CVS or Walgreens. Much of the medicine is ginseng-based, with dozens of forms of the natural energy elixir, including Red Kirn, Polygonum, Salva and other forms. The store also sells natural cures such as Peony Root, Susserea Root, Angelica Root, natural Chinese Viagra and many other novelties and notions within those jars. The business also advertises acupuncture services, and a medical procedure called Guasha, where skin is scraped off of your back with a spoon-like tool which is apparently good for healing.

243 West Cermak
(312) 225-0024

Best of Chicago 2009

Best bubble tea

Audience Choice, Chinatown, Food & Drink No Comments »

Joy Yee’s Noodle Shop

Bubble tea joints are almost as ubiquitous these days as Obama bumper stickers. Still, none do the volume of this Chinatown mall stalwart. The massive blending operation means that the fruit in your smoothie and the big fat jelly tapiocas are always fresh.

2139 S. China Place

1335 S. Halsted
(312) 997-2128

Audience choice:
Joy Yee’s Noodle Shop

Best of Chicago 2008