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Now for the bonus material…
Before the walk, we all got together for dinner. That’s been the tradition, so we look for a place that’s informal, has large portions, and doesn’t mind you hanging out a bit. Oh, from past experience, we also pick a place that doesn’t have all-you-can-drink wine (we had a particularly hungover crowd for the Manhattan Death March due to this mistake. We settled on Sun Wah.
For the non-Chicago people, Sun Wah is basically your standard Cantonese-style BBQ joint (or in proper parlance, a Siu mei place): several different meats (chicken, pork, duck), put on a spit, glazed with a thick marinade and roasted rotisserie-style for hours until fully cooked. The result is a rather pleasant combination of juicy meat (the glaze seals in most of the moisture), deep flavor, and a really crispy and yummy fried skin. They ve also got an extensive menu of side veggies, soups, cocktails (I opted for their MSG cocktail, which in this case stood for Momma-Slappin Ginger , a nice little cocktail loaded to the brim with ginger), rice dishes, and some fairly standard Chinese-American fare. But really, most of the menu is about the BBQ.
Stepping into Sun Wah, it becomes immediately obvious that they ve expanded. This spot is large. Almost cavernous. Several hundred people can dine here. But it still mostly staffed as if it was a hole in the wall restaurant downtown, with not a whole lot of staff running around doing things. The result is more than a little bit of service. Expect, if you don t have reservations, for it to take a long time to get seated. Expect also to wait if you do have reservations, you just get to wait in the slightly short we have reservations line instead of the longer no reservations line .
That said, by the time they left, the place was full, and while I m sure nobody thought the service was spritely, nobody seemed to be terribly out of sorts or looking like they had waited for ages, so maybe they ve got the system worked out pretty well. In any case, it was only about 30 minutes before walking in (5 minutes early ) that we got seated, and handed some menus that appear, on the cover, to be relics from a former era.
I should mention as an aside that Sun Wah gets bonus for their food photography. The menus themselves may be worn (we joked that they ve been using the same menu covers for their entire 25+ year existence, and I m not sure that s really a joke), but the current menu inserts are a rarity for a fairly budget-minded Chinese restuarant, in that the full-color third page menu pictures of various soups, BBQ rice dishes, and such were actually done by someone with some photography talent (usually, it seems that the photos in these sorts of places were done by a colorblind person who left his glasses at home, and is still using old Polaroid photo stock from 1989, with a resulting blurry, washed-out photo that does anything but appetize you).
But after looking at the tantalizing photos, we all had our minds set on what we wanted. Alas, that s the Peking Duck, which you have to order 24 hours in advance, and we hadn t. But it wasn t that hard to find some other delicious looking items on the menu. We all opted for variations on the wonton soup (which turned out to come in a giant bowl for just $4.50), and variations on the BBQed meat with rice combo places (I ended up doing the combo of pork, duck, and chicken).
I started out with the Wonton Noodle Soup with Tendon, which was indeed a substantial bowl of soup, probably enough for 2-3 people. But it was a good wonton soup: the wontons had a flavorfu,29,698738.002002001001001001001001001001001002002001001001001001001001001002,22,37994,188.8.131.52
699012,699012,0,2012-05-24 16:32:28.700000000,Schwarma Laffa”