The Other Critics

Sula Gambles on Lao You Ju; Tamarkin Finds 80’s Luxury at Nick’s Fishmarket

Lao You Ju
Lao You Ju Photo: Huge Galdones/Galdones Photography

The fun, at least for Mike Sula, at Lao You Ju is “gambling on some of the peacocky dishes supposed to exemplify this ‘whole new chapter’ in Chinese food.” Owner Tony Hu’s latest place can feel like a “Weird World of Hu, a dream chamber governed by a mystifying concept identified on the menu as ‘NeoChinesism.’” Some dishes fail, like the “Extremely Spicy” duck tongue paired with crinkle-cut fries. But the stir-fried tofu with duck eggs may “sound horrible,” and look “inedible, but it was the richest, most comforting thing I could have draped over a pile of rice on that frozen night.” [Chicago Reader]

David Tamarkin feels like the new Nick’s Fishmarket in the Merchandise Market is “everything a diner from the late ’80s would identify as ‘upscale.’ And it is shockingly expensive.” Nothing is quite worth it, either. Too many of the dishes “want to mask any delicate flavors in its food with sauce or cheese.” Lunch is when the “restaurant ticks,” as it is “friendlier and the vibe more vibrant.” Still, his advice: “Cut through the fat.” [TOC]

Julia Kramer checks out the newest outlet of Letizia’s Fiore in Logan Square. Though it hopes to be a “cafe that meets a wine bar that meets a restaurant that meets a lunch place,” it’s “pretty much a coffee shop that serves substantial (if a bit heavy) doughnuts for breakfast and simple Italian food for lunch” The crust on the pizza is “tough,” but it’s a “decent choice” thanks to the “simple and satisfying” toppings. The “safest bet” is probably the “hearty, bean-laden vegetarian chili.” [TOC]

There has been a barbecue opening or nine this year, but Pat Bruno decided it was time to celebrate Robinson’s Number 1, which has been open for thirty years. Though he’s been to “just about every barbecue joint and restaurant new and old,” he notes, “Robinson’s still puts out some of the best barbecue around.” He especially loves the baby back ribs, which are “meaty, smoky, fall-off-the-bone tender.” [Sun-Times]

Sula Gambles on Lao You Ju; Tamarkin Finds 80’s Luxury at Nick’s