Nine-month-old Double Li (in the space once occupied by Sky Food) is getting lots of love over on LTH thanks to an initial post by ronnie suburban, mostly because the accommodating Mr. Li goes above and beyond the expectations of a typical Chinatown restaurateur in making unusual Szechuan dishes accessible to non-Chinese diners. On my last visit he patiently went down the large untranslated majority of the menu explaining each and every dish (the stuff in English is mostly familiar, Western friendly, and dull). He’s recognized that there are plenty of non-Chinese who want the real stuff, so he’s translating the entire menu and hopes to have it printed up some time next month.
In addition to more well-known Szechuan dishes like lamb with cumin and spicy beef maw, Li, who’s from the provincial municipality of Chongqing located within Sichuan province, is serving very specific specialties of the region, including an amazing “pocket” tofu”–silky quenelles of finely ground tofu, chicken, and egg white with vegetables (don’t ask for bear paw tofu–that’s something else). Another that he described as a nontraditional “fusion” dish invented by a hotel chef he once worked under back home is a black pepper-garlic crusted beef fried with butter, which takes on some really pleasant textural contrasts.
I can’t wait to explore more of the untranslated menu, but don’t take my word for it. Li says his place got its first burst of business from another Internet forum, one for Chinese students. And if a restaurant full of starving young brainiacs isn’t a recommendation I don’t know what is.
Double Li is at 228 W. Cermak. 312-842-7818.