Chengdu Impression

Delivery - spring rolls, shu-mai, dry chili chicken, salt and pepper ribs
Delivery – spring rolls, shu-mai, dry chili chicken, salt and pepper ribs

***** (5 stars)

Authentic is definitely the word for this place. The Sichuan food is exactly as you would get it in China. I ordered delivery, and it arrived hot and freshly made.

Six pieces of Shrimp Shu-Mai made a great appetizer. I like mine spiced up a bit so I dipped it in Sriracha.

The other appetizer I tried was the Shanghai Spring Rolls. It was amazing how these had retained their crispness during the trip. Some of the best I've had.

Salt and Pepper Ribs were good, but one of those authentic dishes where you spend a lot of time spitting out the bones, just as in China.

The highlight was the Dry Chili Chicken. This s about half dry chilis! You don't want to eat these unless you really have a tolerance, because when they rate this dish with two chili icons, they mean it! The chicken was nicely crisp and suffused with the chili and garlic flavors.

Even the fortune cookies (which are actually from San Francisco, not Asia) had authentically misspelled words!

Best Sichuan food I've had in Chicago.

Chengdu Impression
2545 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614

Lao Sze Chuan



Chef’s Special Stir Fry Three Delight (shrimp, squid, scallop)

Mega menu (there’s another side, too!)

Northern style pancake


Salt and Pepper Three Delight (shrimp, squid, scallop)

Lamb with Pure Cumin Powder

*** (3 stars)

This restaurant, part of a small local chain, is popular with American and Chinese tourists. The menu is enormous, so there is room for some selections you don’t see at most American Chinese restaurants. But for truly authentic and great Chinese food I still think it’s best to head to Chinatown.

I started with a northern style pancake, which is crisper than a typical pancake, and more like a bakery item than an omelet.

Unfortunately, although it was ordered long before my entrees, and the restaurant was almost empty on a Friday afternoon, everything showed up at once.

This is a Szechuan restaurant, so anything with a pepper next to it on the menu is going to be hot, as was the case with the Lamb with pure cumin powder. The heat was from the Szechuan peppers, raw jalapenos, and chili oil, not the cumin. I can only imagine what the two pepper dishes on the menu must be like!

I ordered the Salt and Pepper Three Delight, a combination of shrimp, squid, and scallops, but I got the Chef’s Special Stir Fried Three Delight. The mistake was corrected, but I actually would have preferred the Chef’s Special, as it was light and nicely sauced, whereas the salt and pepper dish was heavily breaded and fried, and had no sauce, and not much evidence of salt or pepper.

I ordered jasmine tea, but they were out, so I had green tea, which was nicely served in a pot with whole leaves, but it seems odd for a Chinese restaurant to be out of jasmine tea.

You can access the restaurant from Michigan Avenue via a fairly seedy elevator, or from the mall on the fourth level. The space is, frankly, looking a little tired, and could probably use a bit of polish.

Lao Sze
520 N Michigan AveSte 420
Chicago, IL
(312) 595-0888

Hunan House

*** (3 stars)

Pretty much average Chinese food, which is a bit disappointing given its location in Chinatown, but perhaps it is too close to the tourist corridor. Chow mein included an oddly large amount of noodles turing it almost into lo mein. The lamb ribs were very fatty. Best bet is the pot stickers and the onion pancake.

Hunan House
826 Washington St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 398-1299