Lao 18 | River North | Chinese | Restaurant

Lao 18 Image

Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday; dinner: seven days
Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

Price: $$$

CLOSED. Tony Hu's downtown addition to the Lao empire, "closed temporarily" for remodeling.

Restaurant Details

Prolific restaurateur Tony Hu's shiny grab for mainstream recognition, Lao 18 is smack-dab on the Hubbard Street restaurant row. And at first glance the menu indicates Hu isn't pulling punches: there's the boiled beef in spicy peppercorn sauce, the cumin lamb, the ma po tofu, and the signature Tony's Three Chili Chicken, all dishes known at Lao Sze Chuan and Hu's other restaurants for their assertive, uncompromising spicing. But those hits are unevenly replicated here, and other regional dishes are executed with a similarly disturbing lack of finesse: Peking duck spring rolls contain barely a scrap of the promised bird, and even the simplest ham and shrimp fried rice seems like something native to an assisted living center. You can credibly claim that Lao 18 is the best Chinese restaurant in River North. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much. Read the full review >>

Mike Sula

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Price: $$$

Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, Discover

Bar Details

The most disappointing of Tony Hu's restaurants so far has an even more dismal bar. Among the light, frivolous cocktails mixed there, I was served an unstirred, room-temperature Sazerac mixed with Japanese whiskey. "Have you ever had a Sazerac before?" the bartender replied when I questioned its warmth. Servers seem as poorly trained: 4 Rebels Dragonfruit is not a juice, as one told me, but a vodka. —Mike Sula


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