Thursday, April 14, 2011

Uptown Ducks

Most ducks fly, but this one arrives at the table on a rolling wood cart. Crisp tawny skin stretched taut over glistening brown meat falls neatly into juicy-sweet slivers as the server wields the carving knife, stripping the duck in 90 seconds. I want to snatch a slice with my chopsticks while nobody's looking. But everyone is watching the tableside show--and wishing they too had ordered the Beijing Duck at Sun Wah BBQ on Chicago's Uptown/Edgewater neighborhood.

Rows of fully cooked poultry hang in the front window, and you'll see a whole roasted pig being carried out to the open kitchen just inside the front door. Along the far wall is a tank of live fish. The scent of pork BBQ, fried rice, and pickled vegetables wanders through the 4,000 sq. ft. dining room. Here you can celebrate the Chinese New Year in February, or pick up a Thanksgiving turkey to go. Want to try fried pig's intestine or salt baked chicken? Save room for the best egg rolls in town.

Founder Eric Cheng moved Sun Wah BBQ from New York's Chinatown to Chicago's Argyle St. in the spring of 1987. By 2009 his family's expanded operation moved around the corner to accommodate 4 times as many customers. Kelly, the oldest daughter and general manager, frequently stops by your table to oversee service and quality.

If you don't have time to visit Hong Kong for lunch or dinner, Sun Wah brings the authentic flavor and cooking style of China to Chicago. Visit their website at www.sunwahbbq.com.

You won't find Beijing Duck on the menu so if you want to try it call 773-769-1254 at least an hour ahead to get your cart rolling.