May 13, 2005 | Comments

I try not to post about places more than once, maybe twice. In spite of this unwritten guideline, some places demand a second mention.

I first mentioned Lao Sze Chuan in the post Searching for Ma Po. (After a fair amount of Ma Po, I've decided that my next taste will be homemade). Since then, I've made a couple visits to LSC, once with a Szechuan Chinese co-worker and most recently with Ms. EC and a couple of other serious eaters.

My trip with my Chinese co-worker focused on some of his authentic favorites like beef lung and pork liver, along with some more standard favorites like dry-chili chicken. It was a lot of fun to sample some authentic favorites along with some more standard Szechuan dishes like ma po tofu.

During my more recent visit we started with cold diced rabbit, spicy beef maw, and jiao ma Chicken (a cold, spicy chicken dish sauced with Chinese black vinegar). Tony, the chef/owner of LSC, assisted us with ordering a nice array of entrees including dry-chili small fish (smelt), fried eggplant with ground pork, Tony's special three chili chicken, and fried egg noodles with beef.

The beef maw is a nice way to sample some authentic Szechuan tastes if you're a little timid about strange animal cuts. The maw is served in thin strips that are slightly chewy and very flavorful.

Tony proudly told us the story of his "three chili chicken", one of his most popular dishes. Similar to the story of many restaurant's signature dishes, this one was created by a customer who described a dish he'd like to see. A long-time regular of LSC described what he liked and it resulted in lightly-coated, deep-fried dark-meat chicken tossed with three different chilis (both fresh and dried). The dish is crispy, juicy, spicy, sweet, and full of flavor. It's not a stretch to determine why this is one of their more popular dishes.

The smelt were another dish to note, also fried and served with chilis. There's really nothing better than tiny little spicy fried fish.

LSC is steadily getting more and more popular. Now, they're almost full for dinner on off nights, and they're jammed on the weekends (overflowing to their banquet room upstairs). Their massive menu and build-your-own hot pot selection encourages return visitors. You can eat at LSC fifty times and have fifty completely different meals. The flavors are authentic, strong, and first-rate.

If this place gets any more crowded, the first law will kick in and I'll happily head down the mall to Spring World for Szechuan-Yunnan dining that's nearly as good.

If you've been denying yourself a visit to LSC, you're really missing out. This is truly some of best Szechuan Chinese food in Chicago (maybe the best Chinese food of any type). It's authentic but accessible and you won't leave disappointed.

Check out Lao Sze Chuan at 2172 S. Archer in the Chinatown Mall, 312-326-5040. A couple other locations and a full menu on their website, www.laoszechuan.com.


Comments

I went to Lao Sze Chuan several months ago on a recommendation, and had a great meal. I had more of the 'standard' fare from their incredibly large menu, and every dish I tried was excellent.

I got there a bit early on a Saturday, and we waited about 20 minutes (it was well worth it), but by the time we'd finished eating, the line was out the door.

Posted by: Chris at May 13, 2005 03:32 PM


Getting more crowded? ;-)

Michael, I've seen LSC crowded for ages. In fact the CQ not so keen about the place 'cause of the crowds and the rushed service (at times).

The good news (I think) is that LSC rather shows, build a cool restaurant, and they will come.

A week ago, I ate at Spring World with someone who has lived in China. She said it was as good as she's had outside of China, and that their way of doing things was highly Chinese. I think she would have said the exact same thing about LSC.

Rob

Posted by: Vital Information at May 16, 2005 12:54 PM


Does anybody else find LSC food just a bit too oily? I had the ma po tofu and it was just too rich/oily for me.

I realize this is a personal preference thing..it's why I like authentic (Sun Wah, Ken Kee) Cantonese food so much..it's quite light and the food flavors come through.

If you have any "non oily" suggestionsf for LSC I'm all ears...

Posted by: jolondon at June 27, 2005 11:14 PM


My parents, who are Chinese, live in the Bay Area. They think of themselves as very picky about their Chinese food, and they certainly do their best to search out exceptional Chinese restaurants. They insist on eating at LSC at least once whenever they are in town visiting, because they say they have not found a better Sichuan restaurant in California. So, fwiw, the place has got their high recommendation, too. I know I like most of their food, especially the boiled beef.

--dan

Posted by: dsw at December 3, 2005 03:14 AM


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