Eater 38 – Sun Wah Bar-B-Que

Last Friday we were sitting at home trying to figure out what to do for dinner and my phone rang.  It was Erik (of last Sunday dinner’s Erik and Jen) and he was wondering the same thing.  He mentioned they had reserved a duck at Sun Wah and could up the reservation from 2 people to 4 if we were interested.  I said I’d check with Cheryl and get back to him shortly.  The conversation then went as follows: Me: “How about duck at Sun Wah tonight instead of Thai?” (pressing dial button) Cheryl: “Yes” (phone rings) Me: “We’re in.”  That should tell you how highly the GastroGnome household rates Sun Wah’s crispy duck.

We rate it that highly because we’ve experienced this wonderful restaurant a couple of times before.  The very first time I went there was to pick up a turkey for a Christmas party.  The party was downtown but one of Cheryl’s co-workers had dropped off a turkey at Sun Wah to be deep-fried.  Yes, you read that correctly.  You can drop off a turkey for them to deep fry, at least around Thanksgiving and Christmas (hmm I wonder if they do it around Super Bowl time).  Since we live in Wrigleyville I was assigned the task of picking up the bird.  Drove around the block a few times looking for it because the claim check had their old address on it.  Still, it’s a pretty nondescript store front which is easy to drive past at night.  The turkey was great, and they even provide a sauce with it.  Not a gravy, but a sauce.  When I was picking it up there were a lot of people dropping off turkeys for Christmas.  Shortly after that we went back with a big group for their duck dinner, loved it, and put Sun Wah on our list of favorite places.

So on Friday when we got the call it was a very easy decision.  Cheryl and I had been talking about Sun Wah lately saying we needed to go back since we hadn’t been in a while.  It’s located at 5039 N. Broadway in Uptown just around the corner from the Argyle Red Line stop.  There’s plenty of parking around there and to top it all off Sun Wah’s a BYOB.  (Side Roam: I really really love this part of Chicago dining.  It just doesn’t exist on the east coast.  At least not where I grew up or lived.  You never really know how much booze can add to your bill until you start dining at BYOB places.  Love love love this!)  We arrived a little early for our 8pm reservation, so we popped open a couple of beers while waiting.  When you order the duck dinner you get the duck and buns (carved tableside for you), duck fried rice, and a duck soup.  Of course you might want to order some other items from their huge menu and we certainly did.  To start off we ordered some BBQ ribs, some of their salt chicken with an awesome ginger sauce, and Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce.  In the midst of this the duck arrived and everyone dove in.  Their duck is crispy with the right amount of fattiness left on.  We asked our waitress how many ducks they go through in a night and she said on weekends they could easily serve 90, and then she started pointing out the tables just in our area that ordered duck.  She counted at least 15.

They’ve got take out service too.  While we were waiting I noticed you can purchase a large order of duck to go and it’s between $16-18 depending on which one you want (3 different kinds).  Not for nothing but that’s about what a frozen duck will cost you at the grocery store.  Their whole menu is pretty inexpensive and full of good value.  The bill for the four of us including the duck dinner with all those medium-sized sides came to $75 (tax incl).  And that’s with a $2 per bottle cork fee they charge.  I don’t know if cans count.  We were only charged for 3 bottles of beer and one us was drinking a can so who knows how they figure out the cork charge.  We also had more than one beer each.  Guess it helps to have your own opener and put the empties back in the cooler.   Let me finish by saying we were all absolutely stuffed from dinner here!  Barely finished it all and it’s not like we’re a bunch of nibblers.  So when you go be sure to bring your appetite!  It’s also wise to call ahead to see if they have enough ducks and make a reservation.  Especially on the weekends.

As mentioned in the blog title Sun Wah is also on the Eater 38 list which was just updated for January.  Three came off (including Hot Doug’s!) so three new ones came on.  Check out the new list!


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