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Great Sea, Chicago’s 31-Year-Old Chinese Chicken Wing Institution, Is Moving

It’s staying in Albany Park but is getting a new name

Great Sea’s famous chicken wings
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

After 31 years, Great Sea Chinese Restaurant, a beloved Albany Park Chinese-Korean restaurant that specializes in chicken wings, is moving and getting a new name. There’s no drama here as co-owner Frank Wang — who took over the restaurant two years ago — said his current location is too small. He’s hoping for an October opening across the street at 3253 W. Lawrence Avenue. When the new location opens, Wang’s restaurant will be known as Great Sea Lollipop Wings.

“People already know Great Sea is a restaurant,” Wang said.

Internet hysteria broke out in 2016 when Great Sea’s founders announced their retirement. Fans love their chicken wings that much, and they feared the restaurant was closing. The founders instead sold to Wang who is running the restaurant with his wife and niece. They haven’t changed the chicken wing recipe, as the wings are still among the city’s best.

The new location will give them space to add new items and keep pace with a growing customer base. At 4,000 square feet, the new location is about 1 12-times larger than Great Sea’s current digs. Great Sea 2.0 will serve both northern and southern Chinese dishes. Amy Liu, Wang’s wife, is the restaurant’s chef. Liu never used cookbooks for recipes. Her husband said she “cooks by feeling.” Wang mentioned they’ll add cold noodles, a cucumber tiger salad, and a potato salad. Don’t worry, it won’t have raisins: “No, no, no — not the Westernized kind,” Wang said.

Wang was raised in Korea by Chinese parents, and Chicago has plenty of Korean-Chinese restaurants. He comes from a chemical engineering background and worked for Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan. Great Sea isn’t Wang’s first foray into food. Forbidden City Chinese Restaurant in Saginaw, Michigan specialized in Northern Chinese food. Wang ran the restaurant with his late wife, Katy. They opened multiple Forbidden City locations in the ‘70s.

Wang credits an unlikely person in changing Americans’ perceptions of Chinese food: President Richard Nixon. He visited Beijing in 1972. Before then, Americans were just interested in chop suey and egg foo young.

“Nixon visiting really opening up the American folks to different, authentic, Chinese food,” Wang said.

Wang will have updates as Great Sea gets closer to the move.

Great Sea Lollipop Wings

3253 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (773) 478-9129