The closest thing to Chinatown is China Town Restaurant

Above, a myriad of dishes including (clockwise from top) fresh seasonal greens, eggplant in garlic sauce, whole steamed tilapia, and fresh stir-fried lobster Cantonese style.- Tina Johansson photos

by Tina Johansson

Elaine Rogers licked her chopsticks after dipping them into the fiery-sweet sauce that enveloped her lunch of orange chicken, one recent weekday afternoon. “I am addicted to this, and I always ask for it extra hot,” she said with a smile and a quick bite of the crunchy bird meat.

China Town Restaurant, Morton Grove
Chef Jiang has worked at China Town Restaurant for more than ten years. Here he prepares a steamy stir-fried dish.

For Rogers, a resident of a far north suburb, the common Hunan dish at China Town Restaurant in Morton Grove is better than most. “For me, it’s worth the drive,” she said.

For those in the know, the eatery located at the corner of Dempster and School streets, also means a variety of very good Cantonese and Szechuan selections.

Eggplant in sticky, black garlic sauce is a must try. It is both lovely to look at – purple in color – and delicious; and is always served piping hot.

A dish not on the regular menu (you’ll have to ask for it) is beef satay. The slices of meat have a charbroiled flavor, and are served in a dark, delicious gravy. The dish gives off a smoky, grilled flavor that is hard to stop eating, even for this eater who is light on red meat!

Large batter-fried oysters are plump, decadent and obscenely rich. Try them, but you’ll need a dining partner to help put a dent in them, especially if you’re having them as an appetizer.

Seasonal favorite of Chinese connoisseurs is ong tsai, a fresh, bright green vegetable that resembles tiny bamboo stalks that are hollow and crunchy. They are a personal favorite of ours.

China Town Restaurant, Morton Grove
Fresh, seasonal greens called ong tsai, are a must try.

If you’d like some fish, be adventurous and forgo the fillet. Get the whole thing instead and you’ll taste it practically jumping off the plate – it’s that good. Tilapia and flounder are freshly caught for you in the lower level aquarium.

Lobster and crabs are also fished out from tank, and are among the best eating you will get anywhere. In fact the Canton fried lobster is another favorite eaten by us every New Years Day and other holidays.

China Town Restaurant, Morton Grove
Henry Chen with a plate of lobster. He helps out at his uncle’s restaurant as often as possible. Henry’s late father was one of the owners here.

Also not on the regular menu is Chinese casserole including squid, shrimps, tofu, vegetables all in a rich sauce and brought to you in a little pan.

The popular Chinese dish Mapo tofu is an excellent choice. While Mapo tofu is available at most Chinese restaurants, at China Town Restaurant it is hot and satisfying.

People don’t come to China Town Restaurant for the décor which happens to be somewhat outdated. And they certainly don’t come here for the ambiance. But they do undoubtedly come here for the food.

“We have good food with generous portions, and our prices are quite reasonable. That’s why people keep coming back,” said longtime manager Jen Zhu.

China Town Restaurant, Morton Grove
The quality and generous portions are what keeps people coming back, says Jen Zhu, manager above right. An owner of China Town Restaurant is Danny Chen, left. Chen handles some of the cooking at the place.
China Town Restaurant, Morton Grove
Customers enjoy a private party in the lower level banquet room.
China Town Restaurant, Morton Grove
China Town Restaurant is at the southwest corner of Dempster and School streets in Morton Grove.

China Town Restaurant
6121 Dempster Street
Morton Grove
847.967.8992 or 847.967.8822
Delivery available
Open: Sun.- Thurs. 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
China Town features authentic Chinese cuisine from several regions.
The most popular items served here are:

  • Sesame Chicken
  • Orange Chicken
  • BBQ Pork Wonton Soup
  • Combination Fried Rice
  • Mongolian Beef
  • Beef Chow Fun
  • Pojo Frito (fried chicken skin)

For something out of the ordinary try the stir fried eggplant in garlic sauce, the beef satay, deep fried oysters, and fresh whole steamed fish. Seasonal greens including pea sprouts are also recommended.

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