More than two years in the making, the "Mayor of Chinatown" is finally opening a Lao Sze Chuan on the highest-profile stretch of real estate in the Midwest. Tony Hu, while taking a rare breather on a couch in its lobby on Michigan Avenue, exhales before recounting the obstacles he endured to open: the landmarked building connected to the Shops at North Bridge, union contractors, and building a restaurant in a former art gallery.
The result is a space that's gaudy enough to fit the area. A large, bi-level, modern buildout overlooks the Magnificent Mile. There's two dining rooms, with the second on an upper level balcony. A kitchen counter sits on the edge of an open kitchen that houses a specialty-made Peking duck oven and other equipment Hu brought from China. A ten-seat bar glows with crimson backlighting.
Patrons enter the space through an elevator on Michigan Avenue or a door from the shops. The menu, while 90 percent similar to other Lao Sze Chuans, specializes in Peking duck and soup dumplings. The wine-focused beverage program is made to complement the spicy Szechuan dishes.
The Hu empire's foray to the bright lights of Michigan Avenue opens for dinner service tonight.