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Chinatown with a kid

Chinatown with a kid
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  • Chinatown with a kid

    Post #1 - March 23rd, 2007, 4:21 pm
    Post #1 - March 23rd, 2007, 4:21 pm Post #1 - March 23rd, 2007, 4:21 pm
    I'm not a parent, nor do I play one on TV, but we're going to have my 11-year old godson with us for a few days, and we think he'll enjoy Chinatown on Sunday night.

    So here are the criteria:

    1. Not "off the beaten track." I realize the Chinatown Mall isn't that far from the action on Wentworth, but I think it'll be more fun for the kid if he's right in the heart of things.

    2. Kid-friendly food.

    3. Adult-friendly food.

    4. Fun.

    I see that G Wiv has good things to say about Emperor's Choice over on the Reader website. Phoenix I know is good and not that far from the Chinatown epicenter, although it might be nice to be closer to ground zero. Any thoughts? Thanks.
  • Post #2 - March 23rd, 2007, 4:29 pm
    Post #2 - March 23rd, 2007, 4:29 pm Post #2 - March 23rd, 2007, 4:29 pm
    Several people have had good kid experiences at Little Three Happiness. Any of the crispy fried noodle dishes would be an excellent choice as well as the crispy fried chicken.
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #3 - March 23rd, 2007, 4:39 pm
    Post #3 - March 23rd, 2007, 4:39 pm Post #3 - March 23rd, 2007, 4:39 pm
    You know, I actually think the Chinatown Mall is the thick of things, and more kid friendly than Wentworth. First of all, it's enclosed, not narrow sidewalks next to the road-- much easier to stroll in (especially, in my case though not yours, with kids of an age to dart off). The restaurants are smaller and easier to walk in and just sit down, not banquet-hall-sized. And I think the shops are pretty interesting to kids, too-- bins of weird dried stuff, bubble tea shops, all kinds of things.

    If I was going to pick a restaurant I might suggest Spring World, which has been sort of neglected around here lately. The menu has lots of noodle dishes and other fairly accessible things, they're very friendly, and it's usually easy to walk in and get a table.

    Spring World
    2109-A S. China Pl., Chicago
    Tel: (312) 326-9966
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  • Post #4 - March 23rd, 2007, 7:46 pm
    Post #4 - March 23rd, 2007, 7:46 pm Post #4 - March 23rd, 2007, 7:46 pm
    We always go in the morning, but I'll second the Chinatown Mall. It's fun to walk and peek in the shops. I let my 3yo run around there without worrying about traffic (not in the shops, just the outdoor mall) Last time I was there, "Achy Breaky Heart" was playing over the PA. In Mandarin.


    We like Happy Chef Dim Sum House for dim sum. I haven't ordered off the regular menu in years, but it was good and fresh. The dim sum is ordered off a little sheet, which I prefer to the cart method.

    I crave the shrimp rice rolls. (See the pregnant craving thread) Also love the fried taro puffs, rice in lotus leaf, BBQ Pork buns.

    It's near the southwest corner of the mall - a couple doors in from Lao Sze Chuan.
  • Post #5 - March 24th, 2007, 4:36 am
    Post #5 - March 24th, 2007, 4:36 am Post #5 - March 24th, 2007, 4:36 am
    As a suggestion from a parent, Cub Scout and Boy Scout Leader and Brownie and /Girl Scout assistant not to mention girls softball, why don't you ask your Godson what he would like to do? -Dick
  • Post #6 - March 24th, 2007, 7:34 am
    Post #6 - March 24th, 2007, 7:34 am Post #6 - March 24th, 2007, 7:34 am
    So, Chinatown mall also has the candy store...oh yes...bins of strange "candy" some are not candy to american kids, but many are unique things they have not seen. Many gummy things...gummy hamburgers, hotdogs, those good gummy coke bottles...mmm mmm. I know that your godson will love this place! Have fun.
  • Post #7 - March 24th, 2007, 8:25 am
    Post #7 - March 24th, 2007, 8:25 am Post #7 - March 24th, 2007, 8:25 am
    I agree re: Chinatown Mall. If you're gonna cater to your godson, he'll enjoy visiting the "gift shop" and perhaps purchasing his own little stalk of lucky bamboo (which incidentally is not bamboo - I learned recently off Wiki); visiting the Aji Ichiban shop to pick up some grab bag snacks; dining at Joy Yee's and having his food (edible/decent) served in an interesting bamboo casket (for lack of a better term), halved pineapple or plastic boat washed down with a fun fruity boba drink. Then we're off to the Chinese medicinal store to gawk at the dried shark fins, shriveled sea cucumbers and small dried sea horses - perhaps take one home as a souvenir to show his friends. Onward ho to the Chinese market at the end of the mall, to view the Chinese version of the edible Shedd aquarium - you'll see living & swimming bass, shrimp, lobsters, catfish, turtles, monster bull frogs, crabs and more (although not as good as the aquarium at Chinatown Market across the street).
  • Post #8 - March 24th, 2007, 9:35 am
    Post #8 - March 24th, 2007, 9:35 am Post #8 - March 24th, 2007, 9:35 am
    I suppose if he is an adventurous sort, he might enjoy the dim sum carts best of all. If not, I second Jay K's entire post.
  • Post #9 - March 24th, 2007, 12:08 pm
    Post #9 - March 24th, 2007, 12:08 pm Post #9 - March 24th, 2007, 12:08 pm
    One warning about ordering the crispy-fried chicken at LTH: My kids will not eat it if it comes with the chicken head on the plate. Half the time when I ask them to leave it off, it comes on the plate. That means I have to eat the whole thing myself (which isn't such a hardship because it's a great dish, but defeats the purpose of sharing).

    If you think your godson will be totally grossed out by seeing a fried chicken head on the platter, I would avoid it, or intercept the dish before it gets to the table and make sure it is head-free.

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #10 - March 24th, 2007, 12:18 pm
    Post #10 - March 24th, 2007, 12:18 pm Post #10 - March 24th, 2007, 12:18 pm
    Thanks guys. It's definitely sounding like Chinatown Mall is the place! Some wonderful suggestions of restaurants and things to do, shops to explore, etc.

    But speaking of those things to do, shops to explore, etc.--it'll be Sunday night--we'll probably be eating around 6--will those shops in Chinatown Mall still be open after our dinner? Even if they would be open on a given weekday evening, will they be open on a Sunday night? Or would it be best, instead, to either A) do the shops before dinner rather than after, or B) do a Monday night thing instead of a Sunday night thing?

    This seems like the sort of info it might be possible to glean from some Chinatown Mall website or something, but I just tried and there doesn't seem to be one. I did find a listing on Centerstage Chicago for Aji Ichiban, and it says they're open till 8 Sun-Thurs, so if that's typical, we're probably in pretty good shape on Sunday night. Just wanted to confirm from your guys' experience.
  • Post #11 - March 24th, 2007, 1:54 pm
    Post #11 - March 24th, 2007, 1:54 pm Post #11 - March 24th, 2007, 1:54 pm
    Also, isn't the Chinatown Mall where the Chinese zodiac figures are? (I'm blanking out now on exactly where they are). My kids have loved walking around those and reading the descriptions and trying to apply them to people they know born in the right year.
    ToniG
  • Post #12 - March 24th, 2007, 4:18 pm
    Post #12 - March 24th, 2007, 4:18 pm Post #12 - March 24th, 2007, 4:18 pm
    ToniG wrote:Also, isn't the Chinatown Mall where the Chinese zodiac figures are? (I'm blanking out now on exactly where they are).


    Yes. They're at the east end of the mall. Here is a random photo of some people having fun with one of them.
  • Post #13 - March 24th, 2007, 5:08 pm
    Post #13 - March 24th, 2007, 5:08 pm Post #13 - March 24th, 2007, 5:08 pm
    One more question about the Chinatown Mall (besides the level of activity on a Sunday night): Is the best place to park the place we always park for Chinatown (that big surface lot on the east side of Wentworth north of Cermak), or is there someplace closer?

    (Another question you'd think would be easy enough to find the answer for on the web, but isn't.)
  • Post #14 - March 24th, 2007, 5:12 pm
    Post #14 - March 24th, 2007, 5:12 pm Post #14 - March 24th, 2007, 5:12 pm
    We usually go eearly and park on the street between Walgreens and the mall, the mall lot, or along the street on the south end. It really depends when you get there.
  • Post #15 - March 24th, 2007, 5:13 pm
    Post #15 - March 24th, 2007, 5:13 pm Post #15 - March 24th, 2007, 5:13 pm
    Depending on the time and day, we often find street parking around the mall, near the west or east ends. The street north of the mall is usually completely packed, though.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #16 - March 24th, 2007, 9:02 pm
    Post #16 - March 24th, 2007, 9:02 pm Post #16 - March 24th, 2007, 9:02 pm
    riddlemay wrote:I'm not a parent, nor do I play one on TV, but we're going to have my 11-year old godson with us for a few days, and we think he'll enjoy Chinatown on Sunday night.

    Riddlemay,

    I get the sense your godson is not familiar with Chinatown, Chicago or otherwise, I also get the sense, from your mention of Emperor's Choice and Phoenix that for this evening, if not necessarily a white tablecloth experience, service/ambiance is a factor in your thinking.

    Frankly, I think your instincts are good, Emperor's Choice is center of Chinatown, good service, nice selection of the familiar plus a number of interesting choices such as jellyfish, pork belly with preserved greens and Salt and Pepper shrimp. Street parking should be available and there is a public lot, entrance just to the North of the Chinatown branch of the Post Office.

    The Phoenix, with it's second floor Big Shoulders view, good service and wide ranging menu including squab two ways and a duck/jellyfish combo appetizer, is an excellent hedge your bet Chinatown intro. The Phoenix is directly across the street from the ever interesting Chinatown Square, lots of street parking, plus the public lot to the East, as you mention.

    Sounds like you have a nice evening coming up, have fun. I'm looking forward to hearing the details.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Last edited by G Wiv on March 25th, 2007, 12:54 am, edited 3 times in total.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #17 - March 24th, 2007, 9:28 pm
    Post #17 - March 24th, 2007, 9:28 pm Post #17 - March 24th, 2007, 9:28 pm
    riddlemay wrote:This seems like the sort of info it might be possible to glean from some Chinatown Mall website or something, but I just tried and there doesn't seem to be one.


    http://www.chicagochinatown.org/
  • Post #18 - March 25th, 2007, 6:27 am
    Post #18 - March 25th, 2007, 6:27 am Post #18 - March 25th, 2007, 6:27 am
    G Wiv, thanks for the input, and for putting the Emperor's Choice and Phoenix bees back in my bonnet. Phoenix may now be a very strong contender for us, since it is so close to Chinatown Square anyway. Frankly I don't know what we'll decide later, but I will definitely report in on the experience.

    Jay K, thanks for the link. I did find that site after posting my inability to find a Chinatown website, but unfortunately, it is very incomplete. It omits many restaurants we all know are there, is sketchy on the details of stores and hours, and doesn't contain parking info (that I could find). Not that this is surprising, or that there's anything wrong with it! It's their privilege. But it did send me running back to LTH with my questions.

    Edited to add: One more question. If Phoenix becomes our top choice, is it likely around 5-6 this afternoon to be a "walk-in," or would calling ahead be advisable?
  • Post #19 - March 25th, 2007, 6:58 am
    Post #19 - March 25th, 2007, 6:58 am Post #19 - March 25th, 2007, 6:58 am
    Re Parking, although the Chinatown lot is cheap even if you go somewhere that doesn't validate, I think free parking is usually easy to find along Wentworth north of Archer (i.e., by the condos), and it's a short, if not especially picturesque, walk from there to the mall.
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  • Post #20 - March 25th, 2007, 8:25 am
    Post #20 - March 25th, 2007, 8:25 am Post #20 - March 25th, 2007, 8:25 am
    riddlemay wrote:Edited to add: One more question. If Phoenix becomes our top choice, is it likely around 5-6 this afternoon to be a "walk-in," or would calling ahead be advisable?


    Calling ahead is strongly advised. I'm not 100% sure they are open on Sunday evenings after dim sum hours.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #21 - March 25th, 2007, 11:22 am
    Post #21 - March 25th, 2007, 11:22 am Post #21 - March 25th, 2007, 11:22 am
    riddlemay,

    We were just at chinatown mall/phoenix last saturday pm with my 4-year old (very different from 11, I know). We go to Phoenix because it's the place my son knows and likes (the staff love him there). Also, they don't mind that we bring in sesame balls for him to eat, procured at St. Anna's in the mall before hand.

    I hadn't walked through the mall in a while and was glad to see a fun selection of shops, including the candy store. The zodiac statues are also fun. I think Wentworth is still great if one is up for browsing through shops but the mall might be more instant gratification for an 11-year old.
  • Post #22 - March 25th, 2007, 9:16 pm
    Post #22 - March 25th, 2007, 9:16 pm Post #22 - March 25th, 2007, 9:16 pm
    The Chinatown Mall turned out to be a great recommendation for all the reasons you guys said, and we ended up going to the Mike G-recommended Spring World. The choice was governed partly by practicality; when we were ready to eat, we weren’t ready to leave the Mall, so we ate where we were. But the other reason was, we’ve never eaten anyplace in the Mall, so we decided to be brave and do something new. You guys are gonna laugh, but once we were seated and had our menus open, I got scared. It seemed to me at first glance that everything was at one extreme or the other—either the most innocuous and boring, or dishes that had the word “maw” in them.

    I had been hoping for some middle ground! (G Wiv must have sensed correctly that I was more suited by temperament to something “safer” like Phoenix, which is I bet why he suggested it.)

    However, the longer I stared at the menu, the more certain dishes in-between boring and crazy started to rise to my attention. Two that we ordered really came through with flying flavors. The eggplant yunnan style for an appetizer, and the prawns in garlic sauce for a main dish. The oily (but not too oily) eggplant was practically covered in cilantro, which proved a great taste combination. And the prawns had all kinds of wonderful flavors going on. The three of us all found Spring World to our liking.
    Last edited by riddlemay on March 25th, 2007, 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #23 - March 25th, 2007, 9:23 pm
    Post #23 - March 25th, 2007, 9:23 pm Post #23 - March 25th, 2007, 9:23 pm
    Whew!

    Riddlemay, I have the same reaction to Chinatown menus that you do. The most traditional things... and then 500 more things that you have no idea how to decide what's promising and what's just there because they think they have to have it. I'm glad it worked out for you!
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
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  • Post #24 - April 12th, 2007, 7:23 pm
    Post #24 - April 12th, 2007, 7:23 pm Post #24 - April 12th, 2007, 7:23 pm
    riddlemay wrote:I had been hoping for some middle ground! (G Wiv must have sensed correctly that I was more suited by temperament to something “safer” like Phoenix, which is I bet why he suggested it.)
    snip
    The three of us all found Spring World to our liking.

    Riddlemay,

    I did think Phoenix the safer choice. Obviously I underestimated your LTH chops, next on to Lao Sze Chuan for Tony's Three Chili Chicken and 'Little' Three Happiness for Salt and Pepper Shrimp.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #25 - April 13th, 2007, 11:53 am
    Post #25 - April 13th, 2007, 11:53 am Post #25 - April 13th, 2007, 11:53 am
    G Wiv wrote:...next on to Lao Sze Chuan for Tony's Three Chili Chicken and 'Little' Three Happiness for Salt and Pepper Shrimp.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    I'm on it.

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