Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CHINESE

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China Gourmet

117 E. Wells St.

China Gourmet is known for its fine menu and superb weekday lunch and weekend dinner buffets. The menu offers unique items, particularly a spicy escargot appetizer and many regional Chinese dishes, the priciest being prepared with Maine lobster. Mu shu crepes are a house specialty, vegetarians will fare well and the duck here is excellent. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB. Handicap access. 272-1688

Chinese Pagoda

7200 W. North Ave.

For over 50 years the Chinese Pagoda has been serving up solid Cantonese fare. Bright green booths and dark paneled walls are what you'd expect to see in such a long-standing, traditional operation. A full menu is available, but the lunch or dinner buffet is popular with the clientele and one of the best deals in town. The broccoli and beef, peanut pork, and fresh crispy Canton fried chicken are standouts. Service is pleasant and attentive. (S.H.G.) $-$$. CC: VS, MC, AmEx. FB, FF, RS. Handicap access. 774-8400

East Garden

3600 N. Oakland Ave.

Dark and outdated, East Garden's dining room is a bit of an afterthought, since so many patrons of this Shorewood institution opt for delivery or takeout, though those who do dine in will be greeted by fast, friendly service. Whether you eat it there or take it to go, the food is fresher and less greasy than most American-Chinese restaurants, and the menu hides some truly unexpected vegetarian options, including a meaty, sesame-chicken-styled tofu dish like little else found at other area Chinese restaurants. (E.R.) $$ CC. RS, FB. 962-7460

Emperor of China

1010 E. Brady St.

A perennial favorite in Shepherd Express readers' polls, Emperor of China has been a standout since the day it opened. The interior resembles an Oriental Deco grotto with textured walls, low ceiling and an elegant arrangement of Oriental artifacts. Soft Chinese music plays in the background. Service is prompt and friendly and the food is freshened with good ingredients. Portions are generous and modestly priced. (D.L.) $$ CC. RS, FB. Handicap access. 271-8889

Fortune Chinese Restaurant

2945 S. 108th St., 328-9890

5512 S. 108th St., 529-9988

If your idea of Chinese food is chicken chop suey and sesame chicken, ask for the standard menu. Otherwise, ask for the authentic Chinese menu, where you'll find spicy shrimp, crispy skin chicken and even duck feet with Chinese mushrooms. The newer Hales Corners location has the nicer setting, but both have excellent food. Popular with the local Chinese community for good reason. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. 529-9988

Huan Xi

2428 N. Murray Ave.

The regular menu looks like any other Chinese carryout place, but the prices are a bit lower than usual and many of the entrees can be purchased as half-orders. What's special is the other menu of regional Chinese fare uncompromised for American tastes. (J.B.) $-$$. NA. 906-8888

Jing's

207 E. Buffalo St.

A busy Downtown spot for carry-outs and sit-down lunches, Jing's features a Chinese-American buffet with few surprises in its selection of pork-fried rice, egg drop soup and crab Rangoon—think Oriental comfort food. The flavors are distinct and ordering from the menu has gained in popularity. The setting is distinct, modern and elegant, with an exposed brick outer wall and pastel plaster minimally adorned with framed calligraphy. Jing's also has a “Special Menu” with authentic Shanghai fare. (D.L.) $$. CC. LB. Handicap access. 271-7788

Lucky Liu's

1664 N. Van Buren St.

Are you torn between an order of kung pao shrimp and California roll? Then Luck Liu's is the place for you. The menu is half Japanese and half Chinese. They also offer delivery of the entire menu. Have that fire dragon maki roll at home. The Japanese side is mainly sushi and sashimi, no tempura or teriyaki dishes. The Chinese is more extensive with a fine vegetarian ma po tofu and bacon pan-fried shrimp made with a skillful dark sauce. Prices are on the low end especially for lunch. Everything is prepared to order. (J.B.) $-$$ CC. Handicap access. 223-1699

Peony Dim Sum

11120 W. Bluemound Road

Peony is the area's sole choice for a proper dim sum menu. The steamed dumplings and shrimp are delicious, as are the small crepes wrapped around roasted duck meat. Conges are rice gruel soups with a variety of ingredients. The menu ranges from duck spring roll to chicken feet and spiced tripe. There also is an extensive regional Chinese menu but the dim sum makes Peony truly unique. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. OD, FB. Handicap access. 443-6455

P.F. Chang's China Bistro

2500 N. Mayfair Road

(at the mall)

Though a national chain, the Chinese food here is quite acceptable. Regional favorites include Peking dumplings, Mongolian beef and Szechuan long beans. Start with chicken in lettuce wraps and finish with a banana spring roll. More malls should have restaurants this good. (J.B.) $$. CC. FB, Handicap access. 607-1029

William Ho's
3524 N. Oakland Ave.
William Ho's serves quintessential American-Chinese food: greasy, salty and overcooked. That's not a novel niche, but this longstanding Shorewood restaurant stands out for its specialties: a bargain lunch buffet, inspired vegetarian options (which includes orange-chicken-style tofu and a tofu casserole), and particularly its seafood menu. Fresh lobster and crab are served steamed or stir-fried, and at generous prices, and the shrimp is plump and well prepared. Even with its colorful, Chinese decorations, William Ho's dining room is a little dark and dusty, so many regulars opt for takeout or delivery. (E.R.) CC. LB. $ RS FB 963-9781