Tony Hu has created a small empire of restaurants in Chinatown, and he’s done it in the best possible way. Instead of trying to appeal to the broadest base of customers, he’s advanced the authentic dishes that he learned to cook in China. That includes Lao Sze Chuan, Lao Beijing, and Lao Shanghai. But his latest opening, Lao You Ju, is different. While terribly authentic and always festive, his restaurants have never really been about the atmosphere. The decorations were normal for the Chinatown setting, even if the food food was better than most. But Lao You Ju is the kind of restaurant that wouldn’t be out of place in trendy River North. Dark and sensuous, it’s Hu’s Chinese take on a tapas-style restaurant, and we were able to take a look inside during the opening weekend.
That collection of small plates includes Fu Qi Fei Pian (a beef shank, tripe, and tongue trio) and cumin beef skewers. There are also some dishes that one would find at Lao Sze Chuan, like the fantastic Mapo Tofu. But it’s really the room we are most impressed with. This is not your average Chinatown restaurant.
Lao You Ju, 2002 S. Wentworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60616; 312-225-7818