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#1
Posted September 13th 2007, 8:07am
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LTH,

Sun Wah has seeped into my very culinary essence, it's one of those places I go when I'm not sure where to eat, suggest when nothing springs to mind and, if I don't have a specific Argyle Street destination, where I end up for lunch when in the neighborhood, drawn like moth to flame by the succulent display of Chinese BBQ, wafting vapor of soup noodle and constant thump of cleaver dissecting Roast Duck, Hong Kong Pig, Soy Chicken and BBQ Pork.

Physical space is modest, though comfortable, multiple 'lazy susan' tables for groups, solid wooden chairs that don't creak after one indulges in a multi course meal, picture windows looking out onto the ever interesting Argyle street scape, the occasional wall sconce, plant and, best of all, paper dinner plates with daily specials written in both English and Chinese, except for duck tongue that's never translated lest Aunt Hildred from Boulder run screaming from the restaurant.

There are a number of threads singing the praise of Sun Wah's Hong Kong style Roast Pig, Salt Baked Chicken, generous bowls of Shrimp Wonton w/egg noodle soup drizzled with table chili oil, Roast Duck, Steamed Fish Filet with ginger and scallion, crisp noodles, Pea Pods and daily specials such as Lamb Stew and "Warsaw."

EatChicago/Michael Morowitz sings the praises of Sun Wah with a chorus of LTHers here. It's also been the site for short notice LTH dinners, impressed the hell out of a group of serious (American style) BBQ guys and has a couple of hundred references scattered across the landscape of LTHForum. Some, such as MrBarolo I should point out, are not quite as keen on Sun Wah as myself.

It's my pleasure to nominate Sun Wah BBQ for an LTHForum Great Neighborhood Award, thank you in advance for your consideration.

Enjoy,
Gary

Sun Wah BBQ
5041 N. Broadway
773-769-1254
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Closed Thursdays
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#2
Posted September 13th 2007, 10:22am
The first time I ate at Sun Wah, I was witness to a glorious sight: 3 men moving a whole roasted pig -- via a large rod through its neck -- from the back of the restaurant all the way through to prep area by the front window. After that, we sat down and feasted on massive quantities of delectably tender pork and duck, barely coming up for air or conversation during our meal. It was about 4 pm on a Saturday and the place was nearly full and buzzing with energy.

Since then, I have always returned to Sun Wah when the urge comes and the place always satisfies. I'm actually surprised this isn't already a GNR because I've always thought of it as one. I think this is a great nomination and I heartily second it. A wonderful choice!

=R=
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#3
Posted September 13th 2007, 10:58am
Any place with that many ducks in the window is OK by me. Just when you thought all the great places had already been nominated, along comes another one. I can't think of a more deserving place.
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Steve Z.

"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
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#4
Posted September 13th 2007, 11:44am
Sorry, I can't add anything here having not been to Sun Wah, but everytime I hear Sun Wah, I think of one of my favourite photos on this forum:

courtesy of G Wiv
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I'll support the nomination based on that photo. :P
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#5
Posted September 13th 2007, 11:59am
I heartily support this nomination. I really enjoy Sun Wah.
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#6
Posted September 13th 2007, 12:16pm
This is an interesting nomination.

Sun Wah is one of my favorite places to eat in the city. Like it is for Gary, it's a place that I always think of when I don't know where to go. I wake up with cravings for plates of pork with crispy skin, glistening duck over rice, heaping plates of clams w/black bean sauce, and paper bags full of fried chicken skin.

What makes this nomination interesting is that while Sun Wah produces food that I love, part of the reason I love it is because there are woefully few places like it in Chicago. If there were a dozen or more Chinese BBQ joints with hanging fatty duck in the window, Sun Wah might not be my favorite. But since there's only a handful, Sun Wah is a standout.

I love it and I know a good group of other LTHers that do, but I'd say that I know just as many LTHers who shrug when presented with Sun Wah as a dinner option.

So, the question is: does the absence of variety in a category create GNR-worthiness out of the few existing members of that category? If there were only two good-but-not-great sushi bars in town, would our favorite of the two get a GNR? Would both of them?

I think my answer is "yes" or "probably". We should appreciate and treasure the good things we have.

Sun Wah is a terrific place that I think about often and I support this GNR.

Best,
Michael
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#7
Posted September 13th 2007, 1:21pm
I love this nomination. I must admit that I tend to be a bit of a one-trick pony when it comes to Sun Wah. That is, Sun Wah is my favorite destination for all things pork, and I particularly love their bbq pork and spareribs. And although I typically don't stray too far from the pork, when I do stray I usually enjoy the bbq duck, which is always an excellent choice, as are the pan fried noodles, stacked so nicely on the plate that I'm always assured of leftovers for home. Argyle might be more of a home for Vietnamese restaurants, but Sun Wah has always been my very favorite restaurant on Argyle.
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#8
Posted September 13th 2007, 1:42pm
I hear what you're saying, Eatchicago, but essentially the argument basically boils down to "Is Sun Wah good enough if it's the best such Chinese place in the fourth or seventh best city for Chinese food in north America, rather than the first or second?"

I mean, start heading west on Lawrence and the next place like that you'll hit in America is in San Francisco. Chinese food in most of the country is Kow Kow or Panda Express. Ducks hanging in the window, that's something you only find in a small handful of metro centers with historical Chinese immigration of sufficient density to support an Asian community. That some other city is (arguably) better yet is no surprise; the main point for me is still that Chicago is one of the cities you go to to find things like this at all.

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Not in Kansas any more. Photo by G Wiv.
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#9
Posted September 13th 2007, 1:54pm
Mike G wrote:the main point for me is still that Chicago is one of the cities you go to to find things like this at all.


Thanks Mike. For a kid that grew up on Devon Ave., it's always nice to get a Kansan's perspective on the country. :)
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#10
Posted September 13th 2007, 2:00pm
eatchicago wrote:What makes this nomination interesting is that while Sun Wah produces food that I love, part of the reason I love it is because there are woefully few places like it in Chicago. If there were a dozen or more Chinese BBQ joints with hanging fatty duck in the window, Sun Wah might not be my favorite. But since there's only a handful, Sun Wah is a standout.
This statement expresses my feelings exactly. If LTHForum was based in Vancouver or San Francisco or even Philadelphia, Sun Wah would probably get lost among many competing Chinese BBQ's, but because it is arguably the best of only a few in this city, it is deserving of recognition and support. It also really is a "neighborhood" restaurant. It is one of the venerable anchors of Argyle street and a favorite of many uptown and far-northside residents. It is a great restaurant in a great neighborhood for restaurants. I say yes.

But why did G Wiv have to post the nomination on a Thursday when it is closed? Now I am craving roast duck. Perhaps lunch tommorow?
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#11
Posted September 13th 2007, 3:10pm
Wasn't Sun Wah already awarded a GNR? Did it get nominated before and failed to make it? I distinctly remember it being on the list a while back.
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#12
Posted September 13th 2007, 3:12pm
Nope, never nominated. Maybe you're thinking Sunshine Cafe?
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#13
Posted September 13th 2007, 3:40pm
Mike G wrote:Nope, never nominated. Maybe you're thinking Sunshine Cafe?


I see. I probably just assumed it was already a GNR based on all the reviews and pictures that have been posted.

I have walked out the Red Line set on going to Tank, but I almost always end up here. Walking from the Red Line stop to Tank, I do have to walk past Sun Wah first, so that's a bit of an unfair advantage, I guess. The cravings for the roast duck and pork dishes are pretty difficult to ignore. I do grocery shopping in the area frequently, and it's always one of my stops for either take out or a quick bite.

For what my 30 something posts is worth, I definitely think Sun Wah deserves the award. I actually thought it was already a GNR.
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#14
Posted September 13th 2007, 3:41pm
kanin wrote:For what my 30 something posts is worth....


It's worth plenty, seriously. Thanks for adding to the discussion.
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#15
Posted September 13th 2007, 4:38pm
The best testimonial I can offer for Sun Wah is that a good friend who was sitting shiva after her father died, set up a separate trayf table for the Sun Wah pork. The pork had been brought by a very observant friend who would never in a million years eat it herself, but who also knew it would be very much appreciated by the bereaved. As indeed it was.

Sun Wah--porky goodness for all.
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#16
Posted September 14th 2007, 4:06pm
i love this place in fact the whole street is very cool[glad it;s in my neighborhood]!their bbq pork is delicious and one of my favorite things.
i usually do take-out however one afternoon i looked into the almost empty dining room and saw a table comprised of some of chicago's top chef's and thier assistants enjoying a late lunch.
the front display window is a visual treat as well
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#17
Posted September 16th 2007, 10:29pm
Ann Fisher wrote:The best testimonial I can offer for Sun Wah is that a good friend who was sitting shiva after her father died, set up a separate trayf table for the Sun Wah pork. The pork had been brought by a very observant friend who would never in a million years eat it herself, but who also knew it would be very much appreciated by the bereaved. As indeed it was.

Sun Wah--porky goodness for all.

The last time I had dinner at Sun Wah was with a large group that included an Israeli couple who passed up the pork, but loved the dishes they tried so much that they brought the couple we knew in common back the following evening for dinner. It may be a neighborhood restaurant, but it's stories like that that make a place destination dining, or great neighborhood restaurants.
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#18
Posted September 17th 2007, 2:46am
Count me among those who are surprised it is not already a GNR. It's my go to place for Chinese BBQ and about the only place I will go to for duck. For me it it's comfort, food, I always know I will get an amazingly tasty meal and for a good price.
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#19
Posted September 20th 2007, 6:46pm
One of the places I have returned to regularly for years. Absolutely a GNR in every way. This spot needs to be on the list.
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#20
Posted September 21st 2007, 6:20pm
Yes, to all of the above.
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#21
Posted February 16th 2009, 5:19pm
No brainer...YES!!!
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I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
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#22
Posted February 16th 2009, 5:55pm
Can there seriously be any question about renewing Sun Wah?
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#23
Posted February 16th 2009, 5:57pm
I absolutely love Sun Wah and consider it an epitomatic GNR -- great, distinctive food, family-run, extremely friendly and constantly coming up with new deliciousnesses (is that a word?). :D

=R=
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"When you’re young, it’s all fillet steak. But as you get older, you have to move onto the cheaper cuts..." --M. Gustave

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

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#24
Posted February 16th 2009, 5:58pm
nr706 wrote:Can there seriously be any question about renewing Sun Wah?

No, I don't think there can be. I crave the quack.

Delicious food, fantastic value, friendly service. For me, Sun Wah defines GNR.
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#25
Posted February 16th 2009, 6:07pm
Hell yes, I support this renewal!

I've only been once (a mistake I hope to rectify, although that neighborhood is a schlep and a half from the burbs -- I can get to Avec and back in the time it takes me to get to Argyle and park), and if what we had at the GNR awards dinner were the only things worth eating, I know I could eat there many times without repeating myself, and be amazed every time. The Pork and Duck Chow Fun (and I've probably misidentified the noodles since I'm too lazy to go look at the event list) I could eat every day, and will be the standard by which I judge such dishes.
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#26
Posted February 16th 2009, 6:10pm
Yay! An excuse to eat at Sun Wah!
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#27
Posted February 16th 2009, 6:20pm
Hi,

The Sun Wah BBQ that earned a GNR a few years ago has exploded with energy, ideas and vibrant new food in the last year. The owner's children have joined the business who have improved classic dishes like Peking Duck. They now offer Chinese food that simply is not served in restaurants like the Land-faring and Sea-faring Pun Choy served for a Chinese New Year Banquet. More often than not there are new dishes on the menu which may have their roots in classic Chinese BBQ, just not yet seen in our region.

I certainly can affirm I have been to Sun Wah often enough to consider it a great neighborhood restaurant.

Regards,
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Cathy2

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#28
Posted February 22nd 2009, 9:44pm
Based on recent, delicious experience, Sun Wah gets my vote for renewal.
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#29
Posted February 22nd 2009, 10:28pm
Sun Wah also gets my vote!
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#30
Posted February 23rd 2009, 7:45am
Um...golly. I mean...gee. Isn't it, um.... Well, duh!


By which I mean: the food is extraordinary and the choices many; the owners friendly, helpful, informative, caring, and did I mention friendly? the prices really remarkable. This is very nearly the epitome of a GNR and the Lovely Dining Companion and I enthusiastically support its renewal. (And count ourselves blessed to live walking distance away.)
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