Deep Fried Chicago: Go 4 Food
Located off the busy strip of Old Chinatown, Go 4 Food is an oft-recommended non Tony Hu spot. This is an important distinction when trying to branch out in the area: the utter abundance of restaurants here makes finding a good one like the proverbial needle.
Like any Chinese restaurant worth its salt, Go 4 Food has a number of lunch specials. Shrimp in Shell with Salt and Pepper ($4.95) is a classic take on the popular dish, with stir fried green pepper, jalapeño, scallion, and steamed rice rounding out the dish. Though worlds better than my first experience, I apparently still have not had salt and pepper shrimp as it's meant to be experienced. According to Nick, the shrimp and shell should almost become one during the deep fry, rendering the texture somewhere around a potato chip. While these shrimp were well seasoned and fresh tasting, the shells were a little on the chewy side. I guess my search continues.
There's not much to say about the itty bitty spring roll (included with the lunch special). The crunchy shell quickly gave way to bland, soggy veggies. I don't know why it's so hard to find a good spring roll around town, but I'm still on the look out for one of those as well.
The Crispy Silver Fish ($11.95) righted all wrongs, though. Strikingly duo-chrome in presentation, the wispy strands of whitish fish are set off simply with the same green pepper-jalapeño-scallion garnish as the shrimp. Fishy flavor is faint at best—think of these as sort of oceanic Cheetos. A quick dip in spicy chili oil rendered the fish the most popular dish at the table.
All in all, Go 4 Food doesn't have what it takes to make me wander far from the Tony Hu empire. Still, next time I'm looking to stray from the beaten path without fear of utter disappointment, I know where I'll be heading for lunch.