Sun Wah Bar-B-Q Restaurant has been an Uptown Chicago destination since 1987. Sun Wah, which means New China, is very much a family venture. Founder and owner Eric Cheng is second from the left. To his left is his niece, Carol Mak, and to his right is his eldest daughter Kelly, and third child, Michael. Not show in Mr. Cheng's wife Lynda, and his youngest child, Laura, a culinary school graduate. Another sister, Cindy, is not involved in the restaurant, but her infant daughter is already a foodie. At age one, she won't eat anything that isn't flavorful.
Eric Cheng learned Chinese barbecue, in Guangdong Province in Southern China, home of Cantonese cuisine. He fled Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution in China in 1972 by swimming eight hours to Hong Kong where he apprenticed and became a Barbecue Master. He met his wife Lynda in Hong Kong, and they married and moved to New York in 1976. There he worked for a restaurant and before long he opened the first Sun Wah on Mulberry St. in 1983. He quickly tired of the pace and people in NY and moved to Chicago in 1986.
Kelly, Laura, and Mike are taking on more and more responsibility as their father plans his retirement. "He thinks he will travel a lot" Kelly chuckles. "We don't think so." Kelly is taking over much of the management, including a move to a new, larger location a few blocks away in summer 2009. Among the changes they are planning a prix fix menu. Laura, works in the kitchen, focusing on modernizing the menu. Mike also works in the kitchen. The family also own Sun Hing Food, a manufacturer of tofu, soy milk, and bean sprouts, which they use in Sun Wah.
Located at 1132-34 W. Argyle St. (near Broadway), Sun Wah is open 9-9 Sunday through Wednesday, and 9-9:30 Friday and Saturday. It is closed Thursday. Phone 773-769-1254 or 773-769-4365.