Where To Eat In Richland Center

Everything you need to know about this iconic food court in Chinatown.
Where To Eat In Richland Center image

photo credit: Derrick Koch

One of the best places to eat in Chinatown is an underground food court inside Richland Center. This hidden basement has all sorts of food stalls, and many Chinatown staples, like QXY and Yummy Yummy Noodles, started out there before opening brick-and-mortars. So whether you’re in the mood for a quick lunch, or want to go between stalls and your table like an ant bringing food back to the colony, here’s our guide to the Richland Center food court.


photo credit: Derrick Koch



$$$$Perfect For:Quick EatsDining SoloLunchCasual Weeknight Dinner
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J’s Snack House is one of the best spots in Richland Center, and that’s thanks to their potato noodle soup. The spicy broth is savory, and gets even more flavor from the different ingredients floating around. Vegetables, tofu, fish balls, and quail eggs—it’s all in there. But the thick and squishy potato noodles are what tie everything together. If they were 20 times larger, they’d be the perfect neck pillow.

For lovers of spice, look no further than Szechuan Bistro. And though the menu is long, it’s impossible to screw up when everything involving mouth-numbing peppers is delicious. The house special boiled fish is flaky and comes in a massive metal tray full of broth, like a chili pepper jacuzzi. Dishes like the spicy frog, dan dan noodles, or the juicy boneless chicken in chili sauce are also fantastic.

This tea shop has a massive selection of milk tea, fruit smoothies, and fruit tea, all of which can be customized. Essentially a Build-A-Boba, you can be as detailed as you want, picking sugar levels and the amount of ice. Plus, it has toppings ranging from everything from tapioca to Oreo cheese foam.

Hainanese chicken rice isn’t very common in Chicago. But you can find an incredible version of this Chinese poached chicken dish (that’s very popular in Southeast Asia) at 3 Sauces. The slices of meat have hints of ginger and green onion embedded in every bite. The rice is cooked with juices from the chicken, making it flavorful enough to eat on its own, and the accompanying broth is light and fragrant. Everything is served on a neatly organized metal dish with the namesake three sauces (sambal, soy, and ginger), all of which complement the chicken.

This spot has two different names online: A Place In Northeast and A Family In Northeast. But both lead to the same food stall, which has great sheng jian bao and jiang bing. The beef buns have a peppery filling with a chewy wrapper with a crispy bottom. But our favorite thing is the beef jiang bing—the pancake is flaky, and the thin slices of beef are covered in a sweet and spicy sauce.

Ma Gong La Po used to have its own storefront but has since moved into a food stall at Richland Center. Despite the downsizing, the menu is still fairly long. The dumplings (like xiao long bao or pickled cabbage pork) are pretty good, but the must-order is the lamb skewers. It comes with four, and the meat has plenty of smoky cumin.

For a quick bowl of rice or noodles, the appropriately named Fresh Fast Food has you covered. Noodles come in all sorts of varieties, from saucy shredded pork to a comforting bowl of beef noodle soup. They have a lot of fried rice options but focus on the steamed rice bowls instead. They’re topped with everything from soy sauce-braised pork trotters to simpler dishes like tomatoes and eggs.

We’re not exactly sure how long Kylin Teppanyaki has been around, but as a veteran stall at Richland Center, it feels like since before Chicago hosted the World’s Fair. The long menu has lighter dishes like crispy okonomiyaki and takoyaki, along with heartier options like curry katsu bento boxes and bowls of udon.

Sitting on top of Jue Wei Ya Ba Wang’s counter are metal containers filled with different cuts of pre-cooked meat. Pork, chicken, duck, beef—the gang’s all here. The person working here will scoop up some duck necks, pig ears, or beef tendons, chop them up, toss them in chili sauce, or brush on a sweet and savory glaze.

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Whether you want Chongqing-style spicy broth, all-you-can-eat hot pot, or skewers dunked in soup, check out these spots.

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