Chicago’s “Mayor of Chinatown,” chef Tony Hu, is finally expanding beyond Illinois, opening his seventh Lao Sze Chuan in August in the former Little Buddha space at the Palms. Hu built his Windy City restaurant empire one region of China at a time, first with Lao Sze Chuan, then Lao Beijing, followed by Shanghai and You Ju, earning him every accolade available in the Midwest, including a nod from the Michelin Guide.
Hu’s flagship in Chicago often has long wait times as it does not take reservations. Still, guests are in love with the fiery, face-numbing, peppercorn-laden cuisine of Szechuan province, and queue up willingly. The massive menu includes more than 100 dishes that run the gamut from mild to the-heat-of-a-thousand-suns. I can’t wait to be reunited with his famously incendiary Chef’s Special Dry Chili Chicken, earthy and robust cumin lamb, and Jiazhou-style double-fried pork with cilantro that is crispy, bright and refreshing, as well as try only-in-Vegas dishes such as Szechuan peppercorn fish. Spicy food is supposed to be cooling during the summer, right?