I f the thought of Chinese food has you reaching for takeout menus or flashing back to the final scene from “A Christmas Story,” then it’s time to give this cuisine another taste. At Red Violet, consulting chef Gene Kato (Japonais) and chef Franky Fong (Lao Sze Chuan, Lao Beijing) have redesigned the menu, and now the River North spot is serving up modern takes on Asian flavors in a two-story space flanked with contemporary touches such as low-backed chairs, a violet-lit bar and a swanky lounge area.
Sip on a lychee martini, made with fresh lychee juice, Ketel One vodka and a splash of pineapple juice ($12), then dig into the imperial hot and sour soup. It has a thicker broth and is loaded with scallops, shrimp, crab and tofu, topped with black truffles and served bubbling over a candle ($8). Or try this unique seafood starter: Tender slices of cuttlefish are stacked high on the plate, covered in a sweet soy glaze and served with crunchy lotus root chips ($8).
While there are gourmet takes on traditional dishes such as Peking duck and General Tsao’s chicken, you can also sink your teeth into other fare. Try the filet mignon, sautéed in spicy soy glaze with crunchy asparagus, peppers and sweet pistachios and served in an intricate potato bowl — an impressive take on stir-fry ($24).
And forget the fortune cookie: We predict Red Violet’s tea and doughnuts will end the meal on a high note. The slightly dense pastry filled with white chocolate and lychee pairs perfectly with the lightly sweet lychee-infused black tea mousse ($7) for an unexpected treat.
Open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday until midnight, Sunday until 10 p.m. 121 W. Hubbard, (312) 828-0222; Redvioletchicago.com.