Where the locals eat.
It wasn't hard to find what is most definitely one of my favorite Chinese joint's in the city. If you do a search for Chinese food in Chinatown you may find a few results that come from LTHforum.com. Well that's because LTH-as its known-is one of the great food boards on the world wide web. Its based right here in Chicago but it also has amazing info on "Eating out Beyond Chicagoland" and also recipes and all the general food talk you could ever care for. The regular posters over there take their food seriously and you can find everything from info on Coney Dog's to amazing pictures and better reviews of the high end joints like Alinea and everything in between. Including a great Chinese restaurant that also happens to be the sites namesake. You see there are two "Three Happiness" restaurants and they also happen to be not too far from each other. So the distinction between the two is too call the smaller one located at 209 w. Cermak "Little" Three Happiness. Its a place that specializes in Cantonese cuisine.
Big flavor happening inside this little Chinatown gem
LTH is a site where I find alot of info and always get an answer. You better believe that a food joint that is the namesake of a site with this much knowledge is going to be pretty damn good. Well its really good and one of my favorite eating spots in the city. There isn't going to be anything fancy about the dining room. It has maybe 10 round tables and there's usually Chinese programming on the TV next to the cash register. A few old ladies sit at one of the tables peeling vegetables or prepping things for the kitchen while watching the tele. It does a pretty good takeout business and is a great option for it but I try to go there with a few people so we can get a few things. Just like any other Chinese restaurant its about knowing what menu items to get. One thing I always recognize is the difference in the customer base. Everyone from White folks to Black families to groups of Asian friends eat here. It is loved by all. I cant imagine anyone going there and ordering the RIGHT dishes and leaving not liking what they had.
Little Three's GNR award (for being a great spot to eat at) from LTH
Since their is so much useful discussion on this excellent neighborhood joint, I'm going to show you some of my favorites and lead you to the posts that will give you all sorts of other rec's. If your going into Chinatown with a group of people and want to keep the price reasonable and the food great-then try LTH. Some of the dishes that are on my must try list are-Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Crispy Skin Chicken, the Roast Duck/BBQ Pork Fried Noodles and the Stir Fried Blue Crab-served dry. I always like to order some pot stickers and am a big fan of their fried rice. I consider both from LTH to be better than good.
^The Pot Stickers aren't the best I've had but I really like them. A huge part of this is because I mix up the soy sauce, vinegar and Gary's chili oil. It creates a delightful sauce that pairs well with the crispy skinned pot stickers. Whats Gary's chili oil? click HERE to learn about that.
BBQ Pork Fried Rice
^If your a consumer of fried rice like myself then I imagine you've had some bad fried rice at one point or another. I don't know why it is but lot's of places screw up this simple dish. Not over at LTH where I have found their fried rice to be a very fine example of it. When you order the rice while dining in the plate is loaded high into the sky. Portions are very generous on top of the food being prepared very well.
Crispy Skin Chicken
^Another one of my favorites and almost always a must have is the CSC. I don't know much on the preparation of this Cantonese dish but I can tell you its good. I think they flatten a half or whole chicken and then cook it on high heat in a wok or something to that extent. Spices are also a factor and the end result is the most amazing crispy skin chicken with juicy meat inside. When you add the juice from the lemon and salt they provide it really goes from choice to crack. Its addicting and well leave it at that.
Salt & Pepper Shrimp
^The one thing I always know when I'm headed there is that I will be getting Salt & Pepper shrimp. The only thing that switches is whether I get it with the shell or without. With the shells they become messy but that's evened out by the extra flavor they pack. Yes I do eat the head. But if you don't like the shell then its also amazing without them. In case you don't know what S&P shrimp is-its fried shrimp (w or w/o head) stir fried to a beautiful color and seasoned with salt and pepper. It also has sauteed onions and jalapenos and is served with white rice. It just might be my favorite shrimp dish in the city. I cant think of one I like more. Little Three Happiness are experts at this popular Cantonese dish.
If you wanna know more about this Chinatown crowd pleaser with a cult like following then I suggest checking out the GNR page over at LTHforum. Just click HERE to do so. It will tell you everything you need to know and give you an idea if its your type of spot for Chinese. I didn't even get into the clam's with blackbean sauce Evil Ronnie style or the dry stir fried blue crab along with so much more.
'Little' Three Happiness
209 W Cermak
Chicago, IL 60616