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Lao Sze Chuan with Mom

Lao Sze Chuan with Mom
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  • Lao Sze Chuan with Mom

    Post #1 - June 15th, 2004, 2:06 am
    Post #1 - June 15th, 2004, 2:06 am Post #1 - June 15th, 2004, 2:06 am
    So my Mom and I decided to go out to dinner together last Saturday night. Having recently had gastric-bypass surgery, so sometimes has "hungry" days and sometimes has no appetite at all. I was lucky that Saturday was an "eating" day. Furthermore, when I mentioned a place that had a cold rabbit appetizer and unusual chinese fare, she actually expressed interest.

    I have enjoyed the Chinatown location of Lao Sze Chuan before, but had only passed by the more-convenient Westmont location. We headed north on 83 and quickly found ourselves in the large but quiet and comfortable dining room. This was a nice relaxing environment quite removed from the hustle of Chinatown.

    We decided to start with the familiar in the form of Crab Rangoon. Yes this is a guilty pleasure and the fresh scallions in the version at LSC make them the top Rangoons in my book! The sweet sauce and spicy mustard both complement the puffed wontons well.

    For the second course we decided to try the Sizzling Rice Soup. We inquired about this and received a puzzling answer. When the soup came things began to make more sense, as two flattened sheets of dry crispy rice were placed into a bowl of delicate chicken broth. The crispy rice began to sizzle just slightly. The broth was light and created a wonderful background to the sweet pea pods and chicken. The surprise was (what I believe was) the wood ear mushroom.

    At one point I asked my mom what she thought of the soup. She said it was good but the mushroom wasn't so delicious. Incredulous, I took the thick slice into my spoon and placed it whole in my mouth. At first the essence was just a strong mushroom taste, but as I bit in, the chewy dense texture gave way to thoughts of leather and tastes of tobacco and of course, wood. I thought I'd never meet a mushroom I didn't like, but this was absolutely revolting. I rarely have such a reaction to food but my stomach began to feel queasy. I quickly enjoyed the rest of the broth which soothed my stomach.

    A bit too quickly the main courses arrived. Boiled Beef in Spicy Szechuan sauce and Salt and Pepper Three Delight (squid, shrimp, and scallops). The Boiled Beef was an absolutely huge portion of tender succulent beef slices in a very complex and elegantly spiced red sauce. Lots of cabbage helped balance out this dish. It was delicious and had a unique taste I'd never quite experienced before.

    The true standout of the meal, though was the Salt and Pepper Triple Delight. The lightly battered and expertly fried squid, shrimp, and scallops topped with red and green chilies for garnish blew me away in it's simplicity. This is a must-have dish.

    Even the almond cookies and fortune cookies at the end were above average!

    What do you folks think of wood ears? Are they an aquired taste or were the ones I had from a bad batch?

    Buen provecho,
    DK
  • Post #2 - July 10th, 2004, 9:16 pm
    Post #2 - July 10th, 2004, 9:16 pm Post #2 - July 10th, 2004, 9:16 pm
    I cook with wood ears fairly regularly and have never had the problem you describe, so I think you got a bad one.
    We just came back from dinner at the Westmont Lao Sze Chuan. I emphatically second the commendation of the salt and pepper triple delight. I adore the salt and pepper fish at Moon Palace, and have swooned indecently over the salt and pepper smelt at little Three Happiness. But this was a whole other notch higher. I've never had squid so tender. The breading was so light and the frying so careful that the seafood practically floated off the chopsticks (of course that might just be me and chopsticks). And the flavor was perfect--nicely peppery without in any way overwhelming the seafood.
    My mother-in-law, who fondly remembers Detroit's Cantonese restaurants of the 60's, chose green pepper beef. It was also highly recommendable. The tomatoes in it even tasted like tomatoes. But even she found the wonton soup inedibly bland, and I remembered that I'd formed the same judgement the last time we had come. Skip it.
    It's a big room and there was plenty of seating at 6:30 on a Saturday night. I think the food is every bit as good at the Chinatown location without the crowds or the parking hassles. This has now edged out Fabulous Noodles as my favorite west suburban Chinese.
  • Post #3 - January 1st, 2005, 6:40 pm
    Post #3 - January 1st, 2005, 6:40 pm Post #3 - January 1st, 2005, 6:40 pm
    Following my own good advice, I took both my mother and my mother-in-law, not to mention a couple of kids, a grandson, and Ed's SO, out to the Westmont Law Sze Chuan on Thursday. We wanted a baby friendly place that would be suitable for our group of 8 but quiet enough for conversation. Even though Ed thought it was pretty ridiculous for him to drive 20 miles to Westmont when he could eat at the Chinatown Lao Sze Chuan any time, he conceded that Westmont would be easier for both the baby and the grandparents and came along. It does meet the needs of both generations admirably. There must have been eight or ten groups with babies there, with grandparents walking them around, showing them the fish in the murky tank where they (the fish, that is) wait to be taken out to be steamed and covered with chili sauce, and feeding them (the babies, that is) pan-fried noodles. The staff also made the rounds of all the babies, making funny faces until they (the babies again) giggled and squirmed. But none of the babies were crying and the carpeting in the spacious room combined with the big round tables made conversation very easy.

    This may have been our best meal there yet. Ordering mostly from the American side of the menu (except for the Salt and Pepper Three Delight, of course) we got to try some more of their dishes. New recommendations include the beef with broccoli (the broccoli was perfectly cooked--not always something you can take for granted with beef with broccoli), the Chef's Special Crispy Duck (steamed then fried, yummy), Tony's Chicken with Three Chili, and a steak dish that I don't see on the menu that's on the website. We also had the potstickers and the chicken mu shu. Fine but nothing special. I am also becoming addicted to the spicy slightly pickled cabbage they bring before the meal. Right at my heat tolerance cut-off point, but such depth of flavor that I can't stop eating it.

    The highlight, though, and what did make this a particularly special meal (excluding, of course, the mothers, the kids, and the grandkid), was the Combination Pan Fried Noodle. The kitchen made them extra crispy even though Gary wasn't with us insist on it. The proportion of noodles to "stuff' was perfect. One of the best Chinese noodle dishes I've had in a long time. A great meal.
  • Post #4 - January 1st, 2005, 10:55 pm
    Post #4 - January 1st, 2005, 10:55 pm Post #4 - January 1st, 2005, 10:55 pm
    Ann Fisher wrote:Tony's Chicken with Three Chili

    Ann,

    Sounds a wonderful meal, though for a second I thought the fish were eating pan fried noodles. :)

    I've not been to the Westmont LSC, only the Chinatown branch, though next time I'm with a multi generational group Westmont will be high on my list.

    I'm a fan of Szechuan Spicy Rabbit (w/bone) and/or, though mostly and :), Sliced Beef & Maw Szechuan Style and the crisp chicken pieces dry stir fried with hundreds of small dried chilies, what Seth Z has called Gribines Chili Chicken. I was wondering if, at the Westmont location, Tony's Chicken with Three Chili is similar. (Though now that I think about it a bit, I imagine not)

    Happy New Year

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Last edited by G Wiv on October 5th, 2005, 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - October 5th, 2005, 10:41 pm
    Post #5 - October 5th, 2005, 10:41 pm Post #5 - October 5th, 2005, 10:41 pm
    I'll resurrect this to mention that Tony's Chicken with Three Chili is distinct from Dry Chili Chicken. The former is fairly mild, and like chicken crack. It has a few dry chiles, scallion, and diced peppers. The latter is much spicier, and while still very good, it can't be enjoyed by as many people at the table. It's basically just chicken and dry chiles.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #6 - October 7th, 2005, 7:21 pm
    Post #6 - October 7th, 2005, 7:21 pm Post #6 - October 7th, 2005, 7:21 pm
    G Wiv wrote:I was wondering if, at the Westmont location, Tony's Chicken with Three Chili is similar.


    I think that the menus at all the locations are about the same. The Palatine location certainly has the chicken chili dish, more or less as you describe.

    Lao Sze Chuan Palatine is also an easy-to-park-at location that's suitable for multi-generational dining.
  • Post #7 - October 7th, 2005, 11:06 pm
    Post #7 - October 7th, 2005, 11:06 pm Post #7 - October 7th, 2005, 11:06 pm
    The taylor street location is NOT, however, like the others. It's more of a quick chinese takeout place that has the LSC name and some of the signature dishes.

    There are some differences, though: the szechuan string beans at LSC on taylor are nothing like those at LSC elsewhere. They're much more like classic szechuan string beans, minus the pork.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #8 - February 26th, 2006, 9:13 am
    Post #8 - February 26th, 2006, 9:13 am Post #8 - February 26th, 2006, 9:13 am
    LAZ wrote:
    G Wiv wrote:I was wondering if, at the Westmont location, Tony's Chicken with Three Chili is similar.


    I think that the menus at all the locations are about the same. The Palatine location certainly has the chicken chili dish, more or less as you describe.

    Lao Sze Chuan Palatine is also an easy-to-park-at location that's suitable for multi-generational dining.


    The lao sze chuan in palatine is called "szechuan house", I called in an order and pickedup some stuff from there a little while ago. It should be noted that they have two menus - an american one and a chinese one. The chinese one has all the dishes from the chinatown branches, and to make ordering easier - the numbers match up. When I came in to pick up my food the waitress was pretty surprised that I had ordered entirely from the "chinese" menu, so you may have to ask for that one specifically.

    Once it was established that I had meant to order those dishes, and had enjoyed them in the past the waitress was pretty excited, even noting that one of the dishes we had ordered (spicy tander tofu- from the snacks section) was what she had eaten for lunch.

    Everything we ordered was as good as the chinatown branch version of the same
  • Post #9 - February 26th, 2006, 8:55 pm
    Post #9 - February 26th, 2006, 8:55 pm Post #9 - February 26th, 2006, 8:55 pm
    zim wrote:It should be noted that they have two menus - an american one and a chinese one. The chinese one has all the dishes from the chinatown branches, and to make ordering easier - the numbers match up. When I came in to pick up my food the waitress was pretty surprised that I had ordered entirely from the "chinese" menu, so you may have to ask for that one specifically.


    I'm not sure I'd define it as an American menu and a Chinese menu, since there's quite a lot of duplication and both are in English. (Unless you are referring to some third menu in Chinese?)

    If you dine in, you'll be given a large menu with a lot of options on it, including some Chinese-American dishes. In the back of it will be pasted a paper carryout style menu with some duplicates plus even more options that seem to mirror what's available in Chinatown. At the door, both menus are available in paper carryout form.

    Lao Sze Chuan/Szechuan House
    847/991-0888
    www.laoszechuan.com
    Palatine Plaza
    321 E. Northwest Highway
    Palatine IL 60067
  • Post #10 - March 1st, 2006, 12:54 pm
    Post #10 - March 1st, 2006, 12:54 pm Post #10 - March 1st, 2006, 12:54 pm
    LAZ wrote:I'm not sure I'd define it as an American menu and a Chinese menu, since there's quite a lot of duplication and both are in English. (Unless you are referring to some third menu in Chinese?)


    Nope, just two menus, just referring to them with the names the staff gave them when speaking to me. There was a little duplication but the "chinese" one, had far, far more items than the "american" one

    LAZ wrote:If you dine in, you'll be given a large menu with a lot of options on it, including some Chinese-American dishes. In the back of it will be pasted a paper carryout style menu with some duplicates plus even more options that seem to mirror what's available in Chinatown. At the door, both menus are available in paper carryout form.


    The carryout menu I grabbed from by the door (the "chinese" one) was exactly the same as the LSC chinatown branch, down to the item numbers. Can't speak to what you receive at the table as I had carryout
  • Post #11 - March 5th, 2006, 6:12 pm
    Post #11 - March 5th, 2006, 6:12 pm Post #11 - March 5th, 2006, 6:12 pm
    Anyone know if the crowds at LSC have died down yet? Ever since CP, there's been a long line for dinner whenever I've gone, even early on a Wed. night. I've been doing take-out instead but the salt and pepper three delight and crispy eggplant with pork don't stay very crisp for the drive home, despite my best efforts to prevent the steaming effect. Even the dry chili chicken suffers a little...
  • Post #12 - March 5th, 2006, 11:27 pm
    Post #12 - March 5th, 2006, 11:27 pm Post #12 - March 5th, 2006, 11:27 pm
    trotsky wrote:Anyone know if the crowds at LSC have died down yet? Ever since CP, there's been a long line for dinner whenever I've gone, even early on a Wed. night. I've been doing take-out instead but the salt and pepper three delight and crispy eggplant with pork don't stay very crisp for the drive home, despite my best efforts to prevent the steaming effect. Even the dry chili chicken suffers a little...


    My husband and I parked and walked through the mall to LSC yesterday. When we arrived the line was out the door and people were cramming themselves in the small vestebule area to stay warm. We stayed for around 10 minutes but no one from the staff was coming down to try to see how many people were in each party and give an idea on the wait period so we packed it up and walked over to LTH to eat instead.
  • Post #13 - March 5th, 2006, 11:36 pm
    Post #13 - March 5th, 2006, 11:36 pm Post #13 - March 5th, 2006, 11:36 pm
    Erzsi,

    Don't give up hope on LSC. They've been blessed with good business and have had SRO crowds in the vestibule during their early dinner rush since long before the Check Please feature. In my past experience, the waits have been short and they've handled these rushes gracefully.

    :twisted:
  • Post #14 - March 6th, 2006, 1:05 am
    Post #14 - March 6th, 2006, 1:05 am Post #14 - March 6th, 2006, 1:05 am
    Evil Ronnie wrote:Erzsi,

    Don't give up hope on LSC. They've been blessed with good business and have had SRO crowds in the vestibule during their early dinner rush since long before the Check Please feature. In my past experience, the waits have been short and they've handled these rushes gracefully.

    :twisted:


    I haven't made a trip to LSC in a long long time. I would have been more willing to wait it out but things seems a little out of hand last night. The people waiting inside were very cranky about the wait and kept pushing in and out back and forth to smoke. I figured maybe if I stopped in on a weeknight I'd have a better shot getting seated more easily.

    I was just very much in the mood for the eggplant last night. :)
  • Post #15 - March 6th, 2006, 8:14 pm
    Post #15 - March 6th, 2006, 8:14 pm Post #15 - March 6th, 2006, 8:14 pm
    You could always head for the suburbs. Same food, smaller crowds.

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