Sun Wah BBQ has been an Uptown Chicago destination since 1987 and in January 2018 it was named an American Classic by The James Beard Foundation. 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 shown is 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 refuses to 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. 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, and the family owns Sun Hing Food, a manufacturer of tofu, soy milk, and bean sprouts, which they use in Sun Wah.
Located at 5039 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL. Phone 773-769-1254.