There are so many Chinese restaurants in U.S. that without "connection" and/or an eye for finding trustworthy blogs/reviews, one highly risk wasting money and calories on a bad meal.
Tao Ran Ju was first recommended by our friend G, who heard about the place from his dad. Supposedly (it should be true, since it's written in newspapers), the owner hired a chef from
Ding Tai Fung, the restaurant that made "xiao long bao" (soupy dumpling) extremely desirable / popular, and continues to make one of the best "xiao long bao" EVER. During our trip to Taiwan winter of 2010, I had the pleasure of eating there again. It was so good, it's stupid that they don't have a location here. so stupid.
Back to Tao Ran Ju... we were excited to find a few options of various dumplings avail. Results: tasty filling (tho a bit dry at times), soupy, but the skin is not thin nor chewy. It does not compare to the "real" xiao long bao. BUT it will have to do, since Chicago completely lacks in this (and many, many other Chinese & Taiwanese foods).
We also felt like having some soup, so we ordered their seafood vegetable soup. It wasn't bad. I liked their choice of vegetables, good ingredients, and milky broth. But it's not so amazing that I'd go back to order the same dish.
The waitress claims that their grilled meat / hot pot dish is really good. I also heard that their beef rolls are good. This place is definitely worth visiting again.
As a side note, shockingly, their service was really good. Very attentive, nice... unlike typical Chinatown spots. Space is also clean & bright.
Tao Ran Ju
2002 S Wentworth
(between Cullerton St & Archer Ave)