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The 8 Best Chinese Food Dishes in Chicago


If you love Chinese food, you’ll appreciate that Chicago has a wealth of fantastic restaurants to satisfy your cravings.

At Shanghai Terrace, Chef de Cuisine Elmo Han offers contemporary interpretations of classic dishes. The menu features dishes from the Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines.

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1.Beijing Roasted Duck.

Peking duck, or Beijing Roasted Duck, is one of the most famous dishes in all of China and certainly one of the must-try dishes during a trip to Beijing. Its luscious meat, crispy skin and deep flavors make it an unforgettable experience for first-time consumers in Beijing.

The dish dates back more than a millennium, when street vendors sold roasted duck in the region around Nanjing (modern-day Beijing). Later Yuan dynasty rulers moved their capital to the city and took with them their cooking, making Peking duck a specialty of the new city.

To prepare the dish, the duck is first dried by a process of pumping air under the skin and covering it with a sugary syrup. Then it’s roasted over fruit tree wood, which imparts a rich aroma and a beautiful red color to the meat.

The meat and skin of the roasted duck are then skillfully carved into thin shavings, which are served along with Mandarin pancakes and a variety of condiments. Hoisin sauce, julienned cucumbers and scallions are all traditional options but you can also add a touch of garlic oil to the slivers for an extra kick!

2.Kung Pao Chicken.

Kung Pao Chicken is a stir-fried dish that is usually mildly spicy but can be made even more flavorful by adding roasted peanuts. It can also be served with a side of chow mein noodles.

It is typically marinated in soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch before being stir fried with aromatics such as white onions, garlic, bell peppers, and dried red chilies. It is served with a rich and flavorful sauce that usually consists of regular and dark soy sauce, sugar, water, Chinese black vinegar, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch.


While you can make the sauce at home, it is much easier to take a shortcut by buying it already made. It can be purchased at Asian grocery stores and costs about a dollar for a large bottle.

This better-than-takeout recipe is easy to make and can be enjoyed with a side of white rice or chow mein noodles. It is the perfect meal for when you are craving a tasty, quick Chinese meal but don’t want to wait for a delivery.

3.Sweet and Sour Pork.

Sweet and sour pork is the classic Chinese stir-fry dish with crispy pan-fried pork tenderloin, bell peppers, onions, and pineapple. It’s a family favorite!

This recipe is super simple, uses only a few pantry staples & it’s so much better than takeout. It’s also perfect for dinner parties & can be made ahead of time!

The key to making this sweet & sour pork dish is a delicious sauce that’s not too thick. It’s a combination of brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

Cook the pork in oil until it’s golden brown and crisp. This makes it stay crispy longer in the pan when tossed in the sauce.

Serve over a bed of rice topped with extra sweet and sour sauce & thinly sliced green onions. It’s the perfect dinner for any night of the week!

This recipe is a quick & easy way to make your own sweet and sour pork. It’s great with a variety of different veggies, but we love to serve it over a bowl of jasmine rice.

4.Hot Pot.

Hot Pot is a Chinese way of cooking raw ingredients in a simmering broth. It’s popular across Asia in various forms, including bubbly Korean stews and Japanese shabu shabu variations.

In a traditional Chinese hot pot, the soup base is prepared ahead of time and ingredients are placed around it. This allows you to simply pick what you want from the boiling liquid.

The most common ingredients are thinly sliced meats, noodles, dumplings, and vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, baby bok choy, Napa cabbage, and mushrooms (which can be shiitake or enoki). Firm tofu is also a big player because it adds texture and balances the flavor of the soup and the ingredients together.

In addition to these classic hot pot staples, you can also find more exotic options, such as silky cubes of pig brain or crunchy tripe and duck blood. If you’re an adventurous eater or just a total meat nerd, don’t hesitate to try them out!

5.Cantonese Dim Sum.

A popular Windy City staple, Cantonese dim sum originated in southern China and has made its way to the United States. Known for its small bite-sized dishes, it’s the perfect food to share with friends.

It’s also a great place to try something new, like soup dumplings or chicken feet. Whether you’re looking for traditional steamed dumplings or something a little more adventurous, there are tons of fantastic options in Chicago.

Traditionally, dim sum includes tea and is often consumed with a group. You can signal that you need a tea refill by tapping the table.

Some dim sum restaurants have a picture menu that you can use to mark your dish and have it brought out to you. This makes it easy to choose what you want.

Among the classic Cantonese dim sum dishes are har gow (shrimp dumplings), siu mai (steamed pork buns), and char siu bao (BBQ pork buns). It’s worth trying these dishes as part of a meal with friends.


Dumplings are the ultimate bite-sized treat, a fusion of savory and sweet flavors wrapped in a delicate dough. They are boiled, steamed or fried and can be served as a main dish or side dish.

Depending on the region, dumplings can be filled with meat, vegetables or cheese – or any combination of these flavors. Fillings can be seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and other common spices.

In Chinese cuisine, dumplings are usually boiled or steamed. They can also be fried, a method that gives them a crispier exterior and a different texture compared to boiling.

However, fried dumplings are not always healthy. They can contain oil and therefore are more unhealthy than steamed or boiled dumplings.

When serving boiled dumplings, they can be topped with a savory yet acidic dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, green onions, garlic and ginger for a balanced flavor. Or make a simple garlic chili oil by blending minced garlic and green onions with hot oil. This will give your dumplings a great depth of flavor and spice.

7.Ma Po Tofu.

Mapo tofu is a super popular Sichuan dish that’s traditionally made with ground pork. However, I’ve found a way to make this dish vegan without missing the meaty flavors.

It’s also incredibly easy to make at home and comes with a very low price tag. It’s a great weeknight dinner.

But I’d say it’s best paired with another spicy, numbing Chinese dish that’s a favorite of mine: Dry Chili Chicken. It’s a classic, and you can find it at Lincoln Park’s Chengdu Impression, which puts a spotlight on China’s Sichuan region with dishes like this.

In this case, the numbing flavor is balanced by a subtle avocado chunk that adds a creamy texture and some needed sourness to the dish. It’s also a fantastic balance to the fermented funk, garlic and copious amounts of chili oil that cling to your mouth and make you gulp for air.

In addition to their delicious dry chili chicken, Chengdu Impression has some other Sichuan favorites you won’t find elsewhere. The dan dan noodles and Zhangcha marinated duck are classics, but the rest of the menu is worth checking out.

8.Cantonese Char Siu.

Char siu (also known as char siew or Chinese barbecue pork) is a beloved Cantonese dish that has become a staple worldwide. Its aroma and flavour are unique, combining sweet-and-savoury notes with spices that give it a distinctive taste.

It’s made with a blend of ingredients like fermented bean curd, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, and five spice powder. There’s also a bit of zest from wines and sweetness from honey and brown sugar.

To roast it, chefs hook slabs of pork onto a metal ring in big drum-shaped ovens, exposing them to heat for caramelization. The roasted pork is served on its own, with rice or noodles, or as filling for steamed buns called cha shao bao.

The trick to a good char siu is to choose the right cut of pork, and to monitor the temperature of the oven so that the meat doesn’t burn too quickly. The meat will have a reddish colour when it’s done and it should feel tender. Be careful not to overcook it, and check the colour every 10 minutes using an oven thermometer, reducing or increasing the temperature as needed.


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