Located on Randolph street is a slew of some of Chicago’s finest dining establishments. Everything from the famous burgers of Au Cheval to the Parisian chic Nellcote, enchants Chicago foodies who wander the streets.
However, when walking along the foodie avenue, you’ll notice something peculiar. Along Randolph in the space that occupies 905, you’ll notice a simple black door. Suspended above the mysterious space is a flickering “Chinese Food” sign.
When looking at the seemingly broken sign, at first you think that it is a simple vacant building. However, upon closer inspection you realize that there is more than meets the eye. Welcome to the world of WonFun Chinese.
The VisionFrom the genius mind of restaurateur Austin Baker, WonFun Chinese seeks to shake up the Chicago restaurant scene with its inventive Sichuan fare. The famed spices of the Sichuan province are sure to add much-needed fire to our lives. Sure Chicago has a slew of Chinese restaurants, but nothing is as sexy, seductive and alluring as Won Fun Chinese.
The SpaceWon Fun has many famous neighbors, including the 4th generation family owned Italian grocery store J.P Graziano. For years the Graziano’s left the building untouched allowing Austin and his team the freedom to transform the space into a scene out of a movie.
When entering, one feels as if they need a passport to enter this ethereal Chinese dream. Guarding the entrance, are two dragons that serve as door knobs. Upon first walking is an elegant array of candles that line the midnight black stairs. The never-ending staircase leads to the second restaurant 2Fun Chinese.
When entering the WonFun space, looking up you’ll notice that the entire ceiling is covered in glowing red lanterns. A red hue engulfs the space adding a bit of allure and mystery. A row of booths line the pathway and feature traditional Chinese decor accents. Another section of seating gives select diners a chef’s table experience. I mentioned to my friend Steph that it was like we were in one of those swanky and posh restaurants that you would see in Sex and the City.
While the interior was something to marvel at, it was time to find out if Won Fun’s menu was just as delicious as the decor.
But First CocktailsLike any meal, one can’t begin without checking out the expansive cocktail menu. My first cocktail of the night was the Jade Slipper. This drink featured a charming array of flavors such as Gin, Lemon, and Green Chartreuse. As a lover of fruity cocktails, this drink was just right. Not too sweet, not too strong, just enough to get my night off to a good start.
My friend Steph selected the Lychee-Rose Martini. This is also an Austin Baker recommended drink so you know it’ll be good. This drink comprised of Vodka, Rose Water, and Lychees. The Lychees soaked up the Vodka and Rose water adding a nice punch of flavor. Another great drink that’ll have you letting out your inner Carrie or Samantha.
For the tea lovers, Austin suggest quenching your thirst with the Oolong Iced Tea. The passionfruit has the drink gushing with flavor and the popping boba in the drink adds a nice touch.
Starting SmallSince we are paying homage to Sichuan culture, all of the dishes are served family style and are ideal for sharing. This is perfect for those of you who like to nibble off your friend’s plate. Start off with 2 small plates and see how you feel and go from there.
To kick off our Sichuan feast, we began with Garlic-Sesame Cucumbers. This dish tasted just as pretty as it looked. The crispy chili oil and the salt & black vinegar cured makes it the perfect dish for those who appreciate the spices Sichuan fare. The kick is slight but this dish is suitable for even the pickiest spice connoisseurs. Each bite featured a generous amount of crispy chili oil where at times my eyes watered not tears of pain but tears of happiness over the deliciousness that graced my taste buds.
As you already know I’m a bacon lover so I couldn’t resist checking out the Chinese Bacon Buns. Pickles, Hoisin, and bacon are gently wrapped in fluffy home-style buns. Each bite oozed with flavor with each ingredient making its presence known with each taste. This is another standout on the menu that has me wishing I had ordered a second helping.
The ClassicsNo Sichuan experience is complete without checking out some famed Sichuan classics. For our next dish, we ordered the Dan Dan Noodles. House made noodles are bathed in minced beef and chili sauce. Each bite features just the right amount of that classic Sichuan kick. As you are twirling noodles in your chop sticks and slowly devouring your dish, be mindful that you aren’t at home as you’ll want to slurp everything up and lick the bowl. The Dan Dan Noodles are a must order in my book.
We included one more savory dish for the night and that was the Cracked Rice Short Ribs. Sitting in a bowl are 8 oz of boneless short ribs. The cracked rice and ribs are seasoned with dashes of cilantro and Pi’Xuan. Each bite oozes with flavor as the seasoning gently melts along the taste buds. It is impossible to leave dissatisfied with this dish.
Other dishes worth checking out are General Tsao’s Chicken Wings and the Mouthwatering Rabbit. Pretty sure I have your mouthwatering just from the mention of these dishes alone.
Make Room for DessertStomachs are practically bursting at the seams but we must make room for dessert. As a side note, always ask for dessert even if you don’t see it on the menu. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
We ordered what we thought would be ice cream, but since we are in the world of WonFun Chinese nothing is ordinary. Out comes a gorgeous display of the finest Taiwanese shaved ice. A elegant display of a mint green creation comes out and it is adorned with fruits and gelatin like candies.
It was one of those dishes that was too pretty and intriguing to eat. Each bite was just as enchanting as the one before it. This sweet delight was the perfect end to a wonderful evening.
The End?Your night of enchantment and wonder doesn’t necessarily have to end. After dessert, make room for even more cocktails at the equally fabulous 2Fun Chinese. Plus, you can sing your heart out at Karoake. Wrapped around the bar is a dragon that watches each guest. Don’t worry, he’s just making sure that you have a good time.
How to Get the Most Out of Your ExperienceOther than ordering as much as you can, according to Austin, the recipe for having a good time at WonFun or 2Fun is simple . While you wait for your table at Won Fun, head up to 2Fun and order a cocktail or two. And don’t worry about ordering too much food because you can always have some to go. I’m speaking from experience when I say that the leftovers are worth it and just as good.
When I think about my night at WonFun Chinese, I reflect back to my fortune “Now is the Time to Try Something New”. So what do you say, go and try something new in the mesmerizing world of WonFun Chinese.
P.S. – For all you fans of Showtime’s Shameless, look out for the flickering Chinese Food sign next season. Looks like WonFun has already gone Hollywood so make your reservation ASAP 🙂