Lan’s Old Town is an infamous spot, mixing a neighborhood Chinese restaurant with boozy drinks and karaoke. Owner Jimmy Ma operated several Chinese spots that predated Lan’s in the city and suburbs, and next week he’s adding another feather to his cap. He and his family will open U Rice over in the Strings 2 space at 1629 N. Halsted St. in Lincoln Park.
The soft opening is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 21. Strings 2, the Lincoln Park location of the popular ramen spot, struggled with tax problems. But with U Rice, the space is getting a fresh start. They’ll have a new menu serving a few Korean and Japanese items to go with a few of the Mandarin and Sichuan items that Lan’s has cooked up since 2009.
The menu is unlike any Pan Asian restaurant. Normal menus don’t include a cheddar kimchi dog. Rice bowls made with bulgolgi, Macau-style pork belly and a Chinese-American favorite, orange chicken—here called "OJ Chicken."
The basement will house the main dining area. The second floor, which briefly housed an Asian tea room, is where the karaoke and entertainment will take place, said Jeffrey Ma, Jimmy’s son. For now, they’ll be BYO but they’re open to securing a liquor license down the line. Of course, they’ll have takeout and delivery for those who don’t need to start a party.
Lan’s made a name for itself with a party atmosphere at night as the restaurant let its hair down during later hours. During the day it’s a perfectly acceptable Chinese-American spot that’s even suitable for families. They’re taking that same formula a few blocks to Lincoln Park.
Between Willow RM. and U Rice, folks coming out of the Steppenwolf or Royal George Theatre have some new pre- and post-show dining and drinking options. See if Lan’s formula translates to Lincoln Park when U Rice opens next week.