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Lao Sze Chuan - Skokie Edition

Lao Sze Chuan - Skokie Edition
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  • Lao Sze Chuan - Skokie Edition

    Post #1 - July 25th, 2014, 2:24 pm
    Post #1 - July 25th, 2014, 2:24 pm Post #1 - July 25th, 2014, 2:24 pm
    I made my maiden voyage to the most recent outpost of the Tony Empire. It's towards the back of the Fashion Square Shopping Center in the space formerly occupied by Hana Asian Bistro.

    Nothing new in terms of decorating. They kept the same furniture and other decor. Same bathrooms. The sushi bar towards the back is remaining for the time being. In speaking with the freakingly friendly manager, they are doing a wait and see attitude to see whether or not sushi will be a good fit, or not for this branch.

    The menu is the same as the Evanston branch. They have a separate insert for lunch specials, half sushi related, the other sze chuan. The sze chuan lunch specials include fried or steamed rice, spring roll or crab rangoon, and choice of hot and sour, egg drop, or miso soup. Lunch specials are priced between $7.95 & $9.45 - an excellent value.

    I had to have my first meal here with my favorite item in Lao World - dry chili chicken. An ample lunch sized portion preceded by egg drop soup and spring roll. My freakingly friendly server apologized for the slight delay in my spring roll as they were preparing a fresh batch.

    A great lunch in a place that dangerously easy for me to access. They will be seeing a lot of me. Now I need to stock up on Tic Tacs for my car. 8)

    Lao Sze Chuan
    9434 Skokie blvd.
    Skokie, IL. 60077
    (847) 677-4262
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #2 - August 6th, 2014, 1:58 pm
    Post #2 - August 6th, 2014, 1:58 pm Post #2 - August 6th, 2014, 1:58 pm
    I live in the neighborhood - and as much as I liked Hana (was my Go-To-Asian-Not-In-The-Mood-For-Thai) I was thrilled to get Lao Sze Chuan - as I'd been dying to try it out - but heard there were usually lines in Evanston. A few weeks ago we ordered Delivery - it came RIGHT on time - and was very delicious.
  • Post #3 - August 6th, 2014, 3:58 pm
    Post #3 - August 6th, 2014, 3:58 pm Post #3 - August 6th, 2014, 3:58 pm
    So far, we've had take out only from the new LSC in Skokie. I wish I could be more positive, but the food didn't hold up well on the drive home. When I was there picking up, it appeared that there weren't that many people eating in (compared to the Evanston and Uptown locations where there is often a wait). From now on, we'll be eating in at that location and I'm sure the food will be much better fresh from the kitchen. The flavors seem to be right on compared to the other locations.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #4 - August 6th, 2014, 6:38 pm
    Post #4 - August 6th, 2014, 6:38 pm Post #4 - August 6th, 2014, 6:38 pm
    stevez wrote:So far, we've had take out only from the new LSC in Skokie. I wish I could be more positive, but the food didn't hold up well on the drive home.

    We have had carryout from there twice, nothing exotic (Kung Pao beef, Mongolian beef, Dry chili chicken, egg rolls + potstickers) and found the quality of the product to be excellent. The fact that we live ten minutes away could be the reason - I was also concerned with what you noticed, not many tables were occupied.
    "Goldie, how many times have I told you guys that I don't want no horsin' around on the airplane?"
  • Post #5 - August 8th, 2014, 12:27 pm
    Post #5 - August 8th, 2014, 12:27 pm Post #5 - August 8th, 2014, 12:27 pm
    Only two tables occupied at noon on a Friday. Tony is going to have to do some marketing to get people in here; it's pretty close to another location (Evanston) and the locals are not used to paying this much for Chinese food.
    Crispy Shrimp with Lemon Sauce (aka Shrimp with Mayonnaise) was solid, but if Peapod Leaves are going to be in the Recommended section of the menu, and they are going to have a lot of stems, then said stems need to be more tender than the ones I got today.
    Anyhoo, glad to have this option close by for an occasional lunch splurge.
  • Post #6 - August 11th, 2014, 1:46 pm
    Post #6 - August 11th, 2014, 1:46 pm Post #6 - August 11th, 2014, 1:46 pm
    Being in a generous mood, I decided to take my office staff to lunch today. Happy to report a decent lunch crowd at about 12:30, including a group of 12.

    I didn't hire my staff based on their culinary palate. :roll: They stuck to the familiar Chinese items. Dry Chili Chicken for me. All in - a good meal indeed.
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #7 - August 24th, 2014, 10:56 am
    Post #7 - August 24th, 2014, 10:56 am Post #7 - August 24th, 2014, 10:56 am
    Back-to-back lunches here on Thursday (eat-in) and Friday (delivery) have me very excited to have this outpost so near my office and home. Both meals consisted mostly of Greatest Hits and for the most part they were excellent. A couple dishes didn't quite have the exact profiles I'm used to. For example, Chengdu Dumplings on Thursday were way more garlicky than they typically are and lacking a bit of heat (chili oil). They were very tough, too. Ditto for potstickers delivered on Friday -- very tough (I don't typically order these but a coworker did and I tried one). I imagine these inconsistencies and rough spots will be ironed out in short order.

    However, a great majority of the food at both meals was spot on-in and line with the flagship Chinatown location. For example, the Mapo Tofu with $2 pork was spectacular and scratched the itch perfectly. And, having a relatively large meal for 10 arrive at our office exactly 45 minutes after we ordered it (as promised) more than made up for any minor shortcomings. The food was so hot (temperature-wise), it felt like it had been cooked in the delivery vehicle. Yes, I had to plead my case when ordering the pork belly (was told non-Chinese don't like this amount of fat) but I was obliged without much resistance.

    Especially at the office, this is going to completely change the lunch landscape. Yay! :D

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #8 - November 16th, 2014, 8:22 am
    Post #8 - November 16th, 2014, 8:22 am Post #8 - November 16th, 2014, 8:22 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Yes, I had to plead my case when ordering the pork belly (was told non-Chinese don't like this amount of fat) but I was obliged without much resistance.

    Our young friendly attentive server did not skip a smiling beat when I ordered Slice Beef and Maw Szechuan Style (#101).

    Classics were on the mark, including gratis spicy cabbage which my wife loves. Lao Szechuan Skokie was bustling, well staffed, quick on the draw with water, tea, drinks, chili oil, completely filled with a solid mix of happy diners including a large number of multi-generation tables, and were on a wait when we left.

    Biggest gaff of the evening was me adding the tip to the reasonable bill incorrectly, which my bride fixed while I was using the restroom.

    Lao Szechuan - Skokie, Count me a Fan!
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #9 - November 18th, 2014, 12:10 pm
    Post #9 - November 18th, 2014, 12:10 pm Post #9 - November 18th, 2014, 12:10 pm
    Does anyone have any information regarding Tony opening a Lao Sze Chuan in Schaumburg?
    SAVING ONE DOG MAY NOT CHANGE THE WORLD, BUT IT CHANGES THE WORLD FOR THAT ONE DOG.
  • Post #10 - November 18th, 2014, 4:41 pm
    Post #10 - November 18th, 2014, 4:41 pm Post #10 - November 18th, 2014, 4:41 pm
    jleblanc05 wrote:Does anyone have any information regarding Tony opening a Lao Sze Chuan in Schaumburg?

    http://chicago.eater.com/2013/5/6/64387 ... aoke-space
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #11 - November 19th, 2014, 10:24 am
    Post #11 - November 19th, 2014, 10:24 am Post #11 - November 19th, 2014, 10:24 am
    Dave148 wrote:
    jleblanc05 wrote:Does anyone have any information regarding Tony opening a Lao Sze Chuan in Schaumburg?

    http://chicago.eater.com/2013/5/6/64387 ... aoke-space


    That story is 18 months old. Does anybody have any recent information about a Schaumburg Lao Sze Chuan?
  • Post #12 - November 19th, 2014, 6:36 pm
    Post #12 - November 19th, 2014, 6:36 pm Post #12 - November 19th, 2014, 6:36 pm
    yes, exactly. Sorry I wasn't clearer. There was a lot of buzz about them opening in the old Smiling Buddha, and then nothing....
    SAVING ONE DOG MAY NOT CHANGE THE WORLD, BUT IT CHANGES THE WORLD FOR THAT ONE DOG.
  • Post #13 - March 17th, 2015, 3:10 am
    Post #13 - March 17th, 2015, 3:10 am Post #13 - March 17th, 2015, 3:10 am
    G Wiv wrote:Our young friendly attentive server did not skip a smiling beat when I ordered Slice Beef and Maw Szechuan Style (#101).

    Monday night dinner quite a different story.

    Without looking at the menu I ordered Slice Beef and Maw Szechuan Style immediately upon seating.
    Was told its spicy, then that I wouldn't like it, then that it had parts in it that I would not like, then spicy again, then.......

    Frankly I've found one of the few things that can make me immediately grumpy, try to deny me Slice Beef and Maw Szechuan Style!

    My bride actually kicked me under the table, a sure sign my grumpy was starting to show.

    Once straightened away dinner was good, but Come the F on Lao Sze Chuan, after 16+ years of ordering Slice Beef and Maw Szechuan Style you'd think they would simply bring me the damn dish.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #14 - March 17th, 2015, 8:14 am
    Post #14 - March 17th, 2015, 8:14 am Post #14 - March 17th, 2015, 8:14 am
    My son and i love the beef maw but it's one of the most intense dishes I have ever had.
    I can easily understand why they try to discourage you in Skokie but in China Town, no problem.-Dick
  • Post #15 - December 28th, 2015, 5:06 pm
    Post #15 - December 28th, 2015, 5:06 pm Post #15 - December 28th, 2015, 5:06 pm
    10 of us went on xmas eve. The service was a little sporadic: nothing on the table for 30 minutes, then after complaining we got random appetizers and entrees, and they lost our pre-order of Peking duck. However drinks were refilled regularly and otherwise fine service -- a mixed bag. They were crowded, but not slammed -- none of the elbow-to-elbow crush of Chinatown, and while there were always a few people waiting, it wasn't out the door.

    The food on the other hand, was fantastic.

    Several of the people there are newbies to the restaurant, so there were some things we'd never order: Orange Beef, Crab Rangoon, Cantonese Egg Rolls... but those items were done quite well, the orange beef crisper and more spicy than you'll find elsewhere.

    Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab was probably the best soft shell I've ever eaten, with none of that "oh, I just ate crab guts" feeling, and perfectly crisp.

    Both the Tony's and the Dry Chili Chicken were quite good, as was dry chili tofu.

    Appetizer of green beans with preserved tofu and black bean was outstanding.

    Sole and soft tofu is one dish we never miss, and it was perfect.

    Garlic green beans, garlic bok choy: just what you want to balance the spicy meaty stuff.

    Weakest dish of the night was probably the szechuan dumplings and wontons -- neither had much sauce, and just didn't click. Not bad, but not something I'd rush back for.

    We realized we were a little heavy on deep-fried dishes, next time need to balance with more stir fried and simmered items.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #16 - December 28th, 2015, 7:38 pm
    Post #16 - December 28th, 2015, 7:38 pm Post #16 - December 28th, 2015, 7:38 pm
    JoelF wrote:Weakest dish of the night was probably the szechuan dumplings and wontons -- neither had much sauce, and just didn't click. Not bad, but not something I'd rush back for.

    In my experience, this is definitely the weak spot at this particular location. The items you mention here are consistently under par and the Chengdu Dumplings, one of my very favorite items at the Chinatown flagship (where they are tender and magnificent), are leathery and unpleasant. I've stopped ordering these dishes all together at Skokie. But I've found most of the other offerings at the Skokie location to be pretty darned delicious -- and consistent visit after visit.

    JoelF wrote:We realized we were a little heavy on deep-fried dishes, next time need to balance with more stir fried and simmered items.

    Agreed. This is an easy hole to step in. I really like the Boiled Beef In Spicy Szechuan Sauce (#401).

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #17 - December 28th, 2015, 7:53 pm
    Post #17 - December 28th, 2015, 7:53 pm Post #17 - December 28th, 2015, 7:53 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    JoelF wrote:We realized we were a little heavy on deep-fried dishes, next time need to balance with more stir fried and simmered items.

    Agreed. This is an easy hole to step in. I really like the Boiled Beef In Spicy Szechuan Sauce (#401).

    =R=


    Also the twice cooked pork Szechuan style (Pork Fat), meaning made with pork belly #501
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #18 - December 29th, 2015, 9:21 am
    Post #18 - December 29th, 2015, 9:21 am Post #18 - December 29th, 2015, 9:21 am
    We were also at the Skokie Location on Xmas eve, and had the pleasure of crossing paths with Joel and Sue.
    We had pretty much the same experience- good food, and less than good service-
    after 90 min without much to eat, finally 3/5 of our entrees arrived,
    we ate those, and called it a night as we had another stop to make.
    I think next year will call for a different plan :wink:
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #19 - April 14th, 2016, 2:18 pm
    Post #19 - April 14th, 2016, 2:18 pm Post #19 - April 14th, 2016, 2:18 pm
    In a funk due to the last minute cancellation of today's LTH North Lunch Group outing, I cheered myself up with a batch of Dry Chili Chicken for lunch today. All is better now. 8)
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #20 - August 19th, 2017, 3:14 pm
    Post #20 - August 19th, 2017, 3:14 pm Post #20 - August 19th, 2017, 3:14 pm
    It's a big bummer posting a possible downhill alert for the Skokie outpost because for a while now, it's been the last of these restaurants that's even come close to resembling the flagship in its glory days. However, a lunch here early last week was really poor and many frequently-ordered greatest hits were way off the mark. I'm not sure how much it matters but I didn't recognize any familiar faces on the FOH side, either. All in all, it felt like a completely different restaurant than the one I've become used to. Perhaps it was just an off day. That's my hope but given the overall trend, I'm not holding my breath.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #21 - August 19th, 2017, 4:42 pm
    Post #21 - August 19th, 2017, 4:42 pm Post #21 - August 19th, 2017, 4:42 pm
    Oh man, BoS, now LSC...

    Is Chengdu Impression any good? I need a Szechuan place.
  • Post #22 - August 19th, 2017, 5:05 pm
    Post #22 - August 19th, 2017, 5:05 pm Post #22 - August 19th, 2017, 5:05 pm
    Yes, chengdu impression is worth visiting. ABOS was better tho, but CI is respectable.
  • Post #23 - August 19th, 2017, 9:02 pm
    Post #23 - August 19th, 2017, 9:02 pm Post #23 - August 19th, 2017, 9:02 pm
    We really enjoyed Chengdu Impression when we went there, as you can see from my post in its topic (click here). Thanks for the reminder, we need to get back!
  • Post #24 - April 29th, 2018, 9:18 pm
    Post #24 - April 29th, 2018, 9:18 pm Post #24 - April 29th, 2018, 9:18 pm
    We celebrated Thing1's birthday at the Skokie outpost and we were quite pleased.

    Food was all outstanding, with a couple of changes to familiar dishes: the spicy hot and sour seemed less of a hot and sour, more of a Sichuan without those classic notes. The chef's special sole with soft tofu was improved a notch with the addition of crisp soybeans. Isn't "crispy lemon shrimp" (aka mayonnaise shrimp) normally served with steamed broccoli? It wasn't tonight. I don't recall if LSC normally did, but it's typical.

    Everything else was as we'd come to expect, with one dish we have tried before: hot wok with beef, sort of a simple entry to hot pot, quite tasty.

    Service was very good, except for them not dishing out soup on a large order, they just dropped the bowls and tureen.

    Certainly no reason to stop going.
    I think it was noted above, but they no longer serve sushi. Oh and Tony Hu is still pictured on the menu.

    Six of us went through:
    large special spicy hot and sour
    egg drop
    Szechuan dumplings
    Szechuan wonton
    scallion pancake
    dry chile tofu
    dry chile chicken
    crispy lemon (nee mayonnaise) shrimp
    hot wok beef
    szechuan string beans
    mu shu pork
    chef special sole filet with soft tofu
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #25 - May 27th, 2018, 11:21 pm
    Post #25 - May 27th, 2018, 11:21 pm Post #25 - May 27th, 2018, 11:21 pm
    Is there a HOT POT special something at Skokie? I don't see anything by that name on the menu. Also, and early post talks about lunch specials, but I don't see listed on the web, are they discontinued or just hidden?
    --Carey
  • Post #26 - May 28th, 2018, 5:57 am
    Post #26 - May 28th, 2018, 5:57 am Post #26 - May 28th, 2018, 5:57 am
    Both "House Special Hot & Spicy Pot" and Lunch Specials are on good quality photos of the menu posted 1 month ago to Yelp.

    No guarantees, but I think both are (still) available.
  • Post #27 - October 31st, 2018, 9:55 am
    Post #27 - October 31st, 2018, 9:55 am Post #27 - October 31st, 2018, 9:55 am
    We carried out from LSC Skokie last night, and while it's still better than most suburban Chinese, it seems to have fallen pretty far.
    Here's what SueF, Things 1 & 2 and I demolished (the daughters-in-law both out last night). My 8-month-old granddaughter helped a little, well, very little: just about a tablespoon of rice.

    204. House Special Hot and Sour SoupLarge(X1 $6.95)
    This seems a big drop in quality from previous versions. The flavor is almost straight chili oil, no deep broth flavors, not much sour.

    155. Lamb Skewer with Cumin(X1 $6.95)
    A new item for us. Pretty good, but the lamb was a bit dry. Four skewers on lettuce, similar profile to Lamb with Pure Cumin but not as hot. Thing2 said it reminded him of things he got on the street in Beijing (in a good way).

    S01. Chef's Special Dry Chili Chicken(X1 $13.95)
    Really weak: the chicken resembled battered chicken nuggets more than the lightly floured fried crispy I have come to expect. Soggy, no ma la. I can't attribute the sogginess to carry out -- it was only a few minutes away. The problem is the breading is far too heavy.

    S16. Crispy Shrimp with Lemon Sauce(X1 $17.95)
    Same as it ever was, a favorite, even if they won't call it mayonnaise shrimp any more.

    S04. Twice Cooed (sic) Pork Szechuan Style(X1 $12.95)
    Another new-to-us dish from LSC. Very tasty, not at all spicy. Good chewy pork belly, lots of leek, good brown oily sauce. A hit, although I expected a lot more chili when ordered "medium spicy"

    854. Stir-Fried Beef Flat Rice Noodle(X1 $11.95)
    Another new-to-us dish from LSC. Very tasty, lots of chewy/crispy bits on the noodles. Similar soy/scallion flavor profile to the Twice Cooed Pork, which wasn't expected, but still very good.

    704. String Bean Szechuan (X1 $11.95)
    Outstanding. Curiously, the online menu does not mark the Szechuan version (vs Garlic or Dry Chili) as vegetarian. Hoping it's a misprint, as it's one of my Kosher-keeping daughter-in-law's favorites.

    In summary: while the food is still pretty darn good, the Sichuan/Szechuan dishes seem to be falling off in quality.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang

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