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I Fell Into a Burning Ring of Fire

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Hello to all out there on the interwebs!  Sorry for the immense amount of lag time between my last amazing post and this one, but I have been enjoying the last fleeting moments of my summer before going back to the grind of graduate school.  Anyway, I’m going to be telling you today about a food adventure I had this past weekend in Chinatown in Chicago.  The place in question is called Lao Sze Chuan located at 2172 South Archer Avenue Chicago, IL 60616 which is part of the new Chinatown square which is a bit further north of the older Chinatown.

My friend invited me out to lunch in Chinatown, and she asked me whether I wanted Dim Sum or spicy food.  Now, I had already went to a Dim Sum restaurant (check out one of my previous posts if you haven’t already!), so I went with the spicy food option.  Apparently, Lao Sze Chuan is one of the most popular restaurants in Chinatown, so naturally there was a wait.  However, it didn’t take long for us to get a table.  Upon opening up the menu, I was greeted with the story of the restaurant and all of the famous people who have dined there in the past including one Bill Clinton.  Anyway, there were plenty of options with spicy, chicken, beef, seafood, and traditional Chinese sections to name a few.  In the end, we ended up going with an order of Ma Po Tofu, LaLaLa spicy chicken pot, and double fried sliced pork with cilantro Jiazhou style.

I’ll start off with the Ma Po Tofu since I’m going to be up front with my dislike for tofu (sorry veggie readers).

A delight for veggies

However, I still wanted to try it since I never pass up an opportunity to try something new.  It was served in a brown, pork based broth along with chopped up red chilies, and the small tofu cubes looked like tiny spicy icebergs bobbing in the Arctic ocean.  With my small sampling, there was no arctic chill with this tofu as it was very soft and disintegrated in my mouth instantly with a brief spicy flourish.  If you’re a vegetarian, I’m sure you’d be more of a fan of this dish, but it was dead last during my trip to Lao Sze Chuan.  Moving on to the LaLaLa spicy chicken pot, I am a sucker for picking out food that has a funny name hence my choice.  Thankfully, I did not regret it at all as it arrived to our table on a mini-grill that kept the chicken nice and hot.  The perfectly grilled chicken was marinated in a red chili sauce and came with diced red and green peppers and onions.  It was bringing that heat that makes me sweat which let me know that I was in an authentic Chinese restaurant that didn’t pull any punches with their use of spices.  Even though some of their food might be hellishly spicy, it keeps on bringing people back since every table in their restaurant was full during our four-hour visit, but I digress.  The final choice, the double fried sliced pork with cilantro Jiazhou style, was just alright.  It consisted of thinly sliced pieces of fried pork along with blackened red chilies, whole stalks of marinated cilantro, and celery.

Definitely pigged out on this dish

The only downside was that the cilantro was a bit too overpowering and left a strange, bitter aftertaste.  Plus, the fact that the pork was dry did not go well with so much cilantro.  However, when I isolated the pork, it was very crispy and filled with bacony goodness along with some spicy highlights.

So as a whole, I would rate my visit to Lao Sze Chuan as very enjoyable and would recommend it to anyone looking for authentic (read: very spicy) Sichuan cuisine along with a slice of one of Chicago’s most famous/oldest neighborhoods.

Lao Sze Chuan on Urbanspoon

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