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praise for Lao Sze Chuan

praise for Lao Sze Chuan
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  • Post #181 - December 20th, 2008, 7:03 am
    Post #181 - December 20th, 2008, 7:03 am Post #181 - December 20th, 2008, 7:03 am
    I've a curious question re: the ordering of Szechuan food at restaurants by people of Szechuan origin- Is it unusual to order all spicy dishes? For instance, is it highly unusual to order:

    1) Ma Po Dofo
    2) Water Boiled Beef/Chicken/Fish
    3) Spicy Maw/Beef
    4) 3-Chili ________ (choice of meat)

    I ask because when I've frequented other Szechuan restaurants, the owners, servers and chef's actually made comments such as, "Oh.... another "hot" dish? "Oh, you've ordered all hot dishes?" I wonder if the typical order, by a Szechuan-nese (I just made that up I know) family, would only include one (maybe two) spicy/ma-la dish and then a "variety" of some other tastes, if you will. I'm just curious how typical Szechuan families dine/cook at home.

    Anybody know?
  • Post #182 - December 20th, 2008, 10:24 am
    Post #182 - December 20th, 2008, 10:24 am Post #182 - December 20th, 2008, 10:24 am
    It is my understanding that it is unusual to order all "very" spicy dishes. Sichuanese, as most Chinese, look to have a balanced meal with a variety of tastes, textures, and heat level. On the other hand, it is not only western interpretation that the food of Sichuan is hot. Fuschia Dunlop, describing some of the most common 'complex flavors' of Sichuan listed:

    Home Style flavor: Chilli bean paste, salt, soy, pickled red chilli, black bean

    Fish-fragrant flavor: garlic, ginger, scallion, pickled red chilli, sweet, sour, salty

    Strange-flavor: salty, sweet, numbing, hot, sour

    Hot and numbing: chillies and Sichuan pepper

    Red-oil flavor: chilli oil, soy, and sugar

    Garlic flavor: mashed garlic, chillie oil, sesame oil, sweetened soy

    Scorched chilli flavor: fried dry chilli and Sichuan pepper

    Now, obviously there is more to each of these flavors but the common theme is that they all have some level of heat. At LSC we just tend to order the dishes that we know they consistently deliver on. If the best dishes in the house are widely known to be of a higher heat level, I doubt highly that a person from Sichuan would try to dissuade you from ordering the excellent hot dishes in favor of a less well prepared, but cooler tasting, dish.

    The last dimension is that all Chinese cookery, of course, views all food as essential in maintaining health by regulating the heat of the body. If they day or your condition calls for cooling sour food, people in Sichuan would probably look at you funny for ordering hot food at all. On a cold damp day, I doubt ordering a number of hot dishes would raise and eyebrow.
  • Post #183 - December 20th, 2008, 7:36 pm
    Post #183 - December 20th, 2008, 7:36 pm Post #183 - December 20th, 2008, 7:36 pm
    Stagger wrote:The last dimension is that all Chinese cookery, of course, views all food as essential in maintaining health by regulating the heat of the body. If they day or your condition calls for cooling sour food, people in Sichuan would probably look at you funny for ordering hot food at all. On a cold damp day, I doubt ordering a number of hot dishes would raise and eyebrow.


    It has always been my understand that the effects, and therefore food choices, would be opposite what I think you're describing. One should seek spicy foods on particularly hot days, and milder food on colder days. Hot foods raise your body temperature, which makes the temperature of the air feel cooler. If you eat foods that raise your body temperature when the air outside is cold, that air will feel even colder. That's why the spiciest foods tend to come from hot-weather cultures, and cold-weather cultures tend toward milder stuff.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #184 - December 20th, 2008, 7:43 pm
    Post #184 - December 20th, 2008, 7:43 pm Post #184 - December 20th, 2008, 7:43 pm
    Kennyz wrote:It has always been my understand that the effects, and therefore food choices, would be opposite what I think you're describing. One should seek spicy foods on particularly hot days, and milder food on colder days. Hot foods raise your body temperature, which makes the temperature of the air feel cooler. If you eat foods that raise your body temperature when the air outside is cold, that air will feel even colder. That's why the spiciest foods tend to come from hot-weather cultures, and cold-weather cultures tend toward milder stuff.



    Yea, I agree with that. It is why Mexican and other southern cuisines are spicy. It isn't the traditional Chinese view though.

    "I just report the news, I don't make it" :wink:
  • Post #185 - December 25th, 2008, 9:10 pm
    Post #185 - December 25th, 2008, 9:10 pm Post #185 - December 25th, 2008, 9:10 pm
    It being Xmas we tend to do a sort of kosher thing when we're stuck in town, hit Chinatown for lunch and then go to the movies.We got to Archer and Clark about 11:30, hell of a crowd already, slid into the parking lot just before it froze uptight. Phoenix was already out the door, Shui Wah and Happy Chef as well. But there were welcoming open tables at Lao Sze Chuan, though not for very long, and we felt like we hit the jackpot. Szechuan dumplings, steamed pork buns, mayo shrimp, spicy sliced pork, just the sort of things Santa would need after a long night. Everything fresh and eye-poppingly tasty, and under $40.

    Then a matinee of Gran Torino-good flick. Happy and merry to all.
    trpt2345
  • Post #186 - December 28th, 2008, 9:37 pm
    Post #186 - December 28th, 2008, 9:37 pm Post #186 - December 28th, 2008, 9:37 pm
    At the 4th Annual JXEiC on Wednesday, we ordered #437 Chef's Special Sole Fish Fillet with Tofu (one chile icon).

    I adored this dish: Ma Po-like sauce, custardy tofu and crisp breaded mild sweet fish chunks on top. But there was something in there I can't identify: it was a crisp vegetable, that was something like a cross between celery and jicama in texture: no strings, light green color.

    D4v3 thought it was winter melon -- what I saw in the stores of winter melon looked more like a big honedew and was very soft (the melons were cut in halves and quarters at H-Mart and Assi plaza) -- it can't be that. D4v3 was pretty sure it wasn't bitter melon: it certainly wasn't bitter.

    It seemed like a perfect veg to use in place of celery in chinese cooking: add a light crispness without those nasty strings and general swampy flavor, but I'd like to know what it was.

    In any case, put this dish on your list -- it's wonderful.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #187 - January 30th, 2009, 3:32 pm
    Post #187 - January 30th, 2009, 3:32 pm Post #187 - January 30th, 2009, 3:32 pm
    Was browsing Yelp and Centerstage for options for Chinatown meals. I'm planning on going for the parade this Sunday and wanted to have some back ups in case my favorite Lao Sze Chuan is too busy.

    "Joseph B" wrote on those boards on 1/27/09 that Lao had changed ownership and was no longer as good as before. Can anyone here confirm or deny? I have not been there since around Thanksgiving and Tony was still running things and everything was swell as usual.

    I certainly hope this is just a bad rumor and "Joseph" had a one-off bad experience.
  • Post #188 - January 30th, 2009, 3:43 pm
    Post #188 - January 30th, 2009, 3:43 pm Post #188 - January 30th, 2009, 3:43 pm
    Lao is as good as ever,

    Tony was there x-mas eve, and was a gracious host.
  • Post #189 - January 30th, 2009, 3:47 pm
    Post #189 - January 30th, 2009, 3:47 pm Post #189 - January 30th, 2009, 3:47 pm
    Just had takeout from LSC last week. Tony was there and the food was spot on. Twice cooked pork spicy and fatty and tasty as ever. 3 chile chicken was perfect, fried crisp with that hot/sweet thing going on. Beef flankie with bamboo shoots, like grandma's pot roast, if grandma was from Sze Chuan.
    Today I caught that fish again, that lovely silver prince of fishes,
    And once again he offered me, if I would only set him free—
    Any one of a number of wonderful wishes... He was delicious! - Shel Silverstein
  • Post #190 - January 30th, 2009, 4:42 pm
    Post #190 - January 30th, 2009, 4:42 pm Post #190 - January 30th, 2009, 4:42 pm
    Though, frankly, I'd plan to have Mexican in Pilsen on Chinese New Year's - I can't imagine you will get in anywhere there, much less Lao Sze Chuan. Two years ago, we were lucky to get a table at Penang (which, though in Chinatown was not chinese) but had to wait 45 minutes.
  • Post #191 - January 30th, 2009, 4:52 pm
    Post #191 - January 30th, 2009, 4:52 pm Post #191 - January 30th, 2009, 4:52 pm
    pilsen eater wrote:"Joseph B" wrote on those boards on 1/27/09 that Lao had changed ownership and was no longer as good as before. Can anyone here confirm or deny?


    LSC has both not changed owners and is as good as ever. "Joseph B" knows not of what he speaks.

    Mhays wrote:Two years ago, we were lucky to get a table at Penang (which, though in Chinatown was not chinese) but had to wait 45 minutes.


    The wait will be even longer this year, since Penang burned down. :wink:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #192 - January 30th, 2009, 11:33 pm
    Post #192 - January 30th, 2009, 11:33 pm Post #192 - January 30th, 2009, 11:33 pm
    I had dinner at LSC on Wednesday night and it was an exemplary meal. Tony wasn't there but it was clear that it's still his place.

    =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 #193 - February 8th, 2009, 5:27 pm
    Post #193 - February 8th, 2009, 5:27 pm Post #193 - February 8th, 2009, 5:27 pm
    Absolutely dead on birthday lunch today at Lao Sze Chuan with one veteran and one newbie. 3 chili chicken was super hot (temperature), crispy and sweet with a very muted spice today. Dry chili prawns were much angrier than any other time I've ever had them. Ma Po Tofu (with $2 pork add-on) was nice and fiery. Crispy shrimp with mayo provided a nice respite from the spice of the prawns and Ma Po Tofu.

    I'm already figuring out when to make a return trip.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #194 - February 27th, 2009, 3:46 pm
    Post #194 - February 27th, 2009, 3:46 pm Post #194 - February 27th, 2009, 3:46 pm
    pilsen eater wrote:Was browsing Yelp and Centerstage for options for Chinatown meals. I'm planning on going for the parade this Sunday and wanted to have some back ups in case my favorite Lao Sze Chuan is too busy.

    "Joseph B" wrote on those boards on 1/27/09 that Lao had changed ownership and was no longer as good as before. Can anyone here confirm or deny? I have not been there since around Thanksgiving and Tony was still running things and everything was swell as usual.

    I certainly hope this is just a bad rumor and "Joseph" had a one-off bad experience.

    LTH,

    Just received a call from Tony Hu, owner Lao Sze Chuan, who said the above is untrue. Tony Hu is, was and continues to own Lao Sze Chuan. Please disregard Pilsen Eaters casual repetition of third hand information.

    Regards,
    Gary Wiviott
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #195 - February 27th, 2009, 10:47 pm
    Post #195 - February 27th, 2009, 10:47 pm Post #195 - February 27th, 2009, 10:47 pm
    We ordered 3 Chicken Cracks to go last Saturday night........YUM. After a 30 minute ride it was awesome......in the middle of the night cold it was awesome.......warmed in the microwave the next day it was awesome!!!! What the heck is in there!?
    The clown is down!
  • Post #196 - February 27th, 2009, 10:58 pm
    Post #196 - February 27th, 2009, 10:58 pm Post #196 - February 27th, 2009, 10:58 pm
    Has anyone tried the Fish Head Casserole here? It's actually one of my favorite dishes when done well, but it's been a long time since I've had a good one.
  • Post #197 - February 28th, 2009, 9:56 am
    Post #197 - February 28th, 2009, 9:56 am Post #197 - February 28th, 2009, 9:56 am
    JeanneBean wrote:We ordered 3 Chicken Cracks to go last Saturday night........YUM. After a 30 minute ride it was awesome......in the middle of the night cold it was awesome.......warmed in the microwave the next day it was awesome!!!! What the heck is in there!?


    It also freezes quite well, just in case you wanted to take home a few extra orders and save them for later. :oops: :lol:
  • Post #198 - February 28th, 2009, 5:10 pm
    Post #198 - February 28th, 2009, 5:10 pm Post #198 - February 28th, 2009, 5:10 pm
    JeanneBean wrote:We ordered 3 Chicken Cracks



    I know we have a tendency to be imprecise with menu names but this makes the actual dish sound somewhat unappealing to me. :lol:
  • Post #199 - March 4th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    Post #199 - March 4th, 2009, 1:49 pm Post #199 - March 4th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    I had a very good last minute lunch @ Lao Sze Chuan in Downers Grove today.

    I ordered (2) lunch specials, the Dry chili chicken, and the pork with potted herb. Both were excellent, and the dry chili chicken was as spicy as ever. I also had a regular egg roll, and a Shanghi Spring Roll. The Spring Roll was excellent.

    The Downers Grove location isnt quite up to the high bar set by Lao Sze CHuan's Chinatown location, but they do a darn fine job.
  • Post #200 - March 11th, 2009, 3:53 pm
    Post #200 - March 11th, 2009, 3:53 pm Post #200 - March 11th, 2009, 3:53 pm
    My wife and her friend from France went to Lao Sze Chuan today, and frankly, they were disappointed. My wife ordered the mayonnaise scrimp and her friend ordered duck. The looked for the lunch specials but couldn't find them so she ordered the scrimp which were $15.00. When my wife's friend ordered the duck, she asked if rice came with that and was told it was a dollar extra. My wife asked as well and got the same response. I have been to Chinatown quite a bit and also go to Lao Sze Chuan in Downers and NEVER was charged for rice. Chinatown used to be an inexpensive way to get a good lunch but if this experience at Lao Sze Chuan is typical, we'll go back to Spring World or Moon Palace when they open up again.
  • Post #201 - March 11th, 2009, 4:11 pm
    Post #201 - March 11th, 2009, 4:11 pm Post #201 - March 11th, 2009, 4:11 pm
    Muttster wrote:My wife asked as well and got the same response.

    Hey, at least they're consistent! :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 #202 - March 11th, 2009, 4:19 pm
    Post #202 - March 11th, 2009, 4:19 pm Post #202 - March 11th, 2009, 4:19 pm
    Muttster wrote:The looked for the lunch specials but couldn't find them

    Muttster,

    For whatever reason at LSC one must ask for the Lunch Special menu on which there are numerous $5(ish) specials.

    From page 2 of this thread
    CrazyC wrote:Anyways, the point of the reply is to let everyone know (maybe everyone does know already!) that LSC has lunch specials, and Tony's Chicken is on there for $4.95... You may have to specifically ask for the lunch menu, since they don't usually bring it out. There are also other dishes on there ranging from snacks ($3?) to the main dishes ($5). Portions are decent for lunch.


    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #203 - March 11th, 2009, 4:46 pm
    Post #203 - March 11th, 2009, 4:46 pm Post #203 - March 11th, 2009, 4:46 pm
    but if this experience at Lao Sze Chuan is typical, we'll go back to Spring World


    Incidentally, you have to ask for Spring World's $3.95 lunch special menu, too. So there's not really any difference between the two in that respect.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #204 - March 11th, 2009, 5:27 pm
    Post #204 - March 11th, 2009, 5:27 pm Post #204 - March 11th, 2009, 5:27 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    Muttster wrote:The looked for the lunch specials but couldn't find them

    Muttster,

    For whatever reason at LSC one must ask for the Lunch Special menu on which there are numerous $5(ish) specials.

    Enjoy,
    Gary


    Thanks for letting us know - when we go to Lao Sze Chuan in Downers Grove, they automatically include it with the regular menu. I guess suburbanites must be cheaper than our city counterparts :)
  • Post #205 - March 14th, 2009, 12:17 pm
    Post #205 - March 14th, 2009, 12:17 pm Post #205 - March 14th, 2009, 12:17 pm
    Inspired by the GNR renewals, I went to a couple of places up for renewal - LSC in DG and Xni Pec - yesterday.

    LSC DG was excellent, better than the last couple of times. We had the 3 Chile Chicken and Cumin Lamb off the lunch menu. The room has been redecorated, looks a lot nicer and they seem to have added more, small, tables, so it seats more. Looks more like the upstairs in CT. It was packed, too.

    The rice is free (white or fried) and you get free egg rolls (they still have not quite left the Lo Garden legacy behind) and soup. Lot of food for $7 each. Almost offsets the added sugar in the chicken. Okay, CT is still better.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #206 - March 15th, 2009, 8:04 am
    Post #206 - March 15th, 2009, 8:04 am Post #206 - March 15th, 2009, 8:04 am
    dicksond wrote:Inspired by the GNR renewals, I went to a couple of places up for renewal - LSC in DG and Xni Pec - yesterday.

    LSC DG was excellent, better than the last couple of times. We had the 3 Chile Chicken and Cumin Lamb off the lunch menu. The room has been redecorated, looks a lot nicer and they seem to have added more, small, tables, so it seats more. Looks more like the upstairs in CT. It was packed, too.

    The rice is free (white or fried) and you get free egg rolls (they still have not quite left the Lo Garden legacy behind) and soup. Lot of food for $7 each. Almost offsets the added sugar in the chicken. Okay, CT is still better.



    How was Xni Pec - the last time I was there, the back end was still suffering from inconsistency and the dreaded "Check Please" effect.
  • Post #207 - March 24th, 2009, 9:40 am
    Post #207 - March 24th, 2009, 9:40 am Post #207 - March 24th, 2009, 9:40 am
    I hope i don't get booted off of LTH for asking this, but here goes: has anyone noticed a decline in the overall goodness of Tony's 3 Chili Chicken AKA "Chicken Crack?"

    My wife and i had some a couple of months ago and it really wasn't as good as what we've come to expect. Specifically, it was sweeter than the numerous times we'd had it before. I chalked that one up to a bad batch because it never really disappointed before that.

    This past weekend, I thought I'd give it another go and it was worse :x ! It was even sweeter this time! One of the many things I love about the dish is the perfect balance b/w sweet and spicy and these last two experiences have gotten me concerned. Has anyone else noticed a problem?

    THIS MAN NEEDS HIS CHICKEN CRACK!
    "Skin that smoke wagon and see what happens..."
    - Wyatt Earp, Tombstone
  • Post #208 - March 24th, 2009, 9:50 am
    Post #208 - March 24th, 2009, 9:50 am Post #208 - March 24th, 2009, 9:50 am
    We hadn't been in a few months and went back last night. Sweeter than I remembered, but who knows. What we really noticed was that the slightly sticky/spicy/sweet glaze was mysteriously absent. Disappointing.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #209 - March 24th, 2009, 9:54 am
    Post #209 - March 24th, 2009, 9:54 am Post #209 - March 24th, 2009, 9:54 am
    I only had Tony's three chili chicken for the first time last summer and had it again a few months back. Both times, I wished it hadn't been quite so sweet. I like the chicken and how it's prepared, but haven't ordered it a third time because of the sweetness.

    Ronna
  • Post #210 - March 24th, 2009, 10:21 am
    Post #210 - March 24th, 2009, 10:21 am Post #210 - March 24th, 2009, 10:21 am
    gleam wrote:What we really noticed was that the slightly sticky/spicy/sweet glaze was mysteriously absent. Disappointing.


    Actually, I noticed that too. It was more oily (like a small pool of oil in the bottom of the takeout container) than it used to be.
    "Skin that smoke wagon and see what happens..."
    - Wyatt Earp, Tombstone

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