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Le Lan

View Map749 N. Clark St., Chicago
Tel: (312) 280-9100
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Editorial Review of Le Lan


Formerly: How appropriate. Meaning "the orchid" in Vietnamese, Le Lan serves a balance of French-Vietnamese fare as delicate as the flower itself. New executive chef Chad Starling takes over for Bill Kim (former chef de cuisine at Charlie Trotter's and current chef at Urban Belly) to combine archetypal French techniques with traditional pan-Asian food in a wonderful mix of new and classic dishes. Sizzling short ribs with wok-seared scallions melt in the mouth, and creative and tasty pairings continue with the banana leaf-wrapped butterfish.

Among more traditional offerings like red Thai curry come standards with a twist. Jazzed up spring rolls feature Amish chicken, shrimp and Vietnamese coriander; de rigeur salmon comes wrapped in tofu skin and served with Chinese black beans; and oh-so-French venison loin marinates in red wine and Mirin before cooking. Delicacy continues come dessert time with a quince souffle, a rich chocolate moelleux and refreshing sorbets and ice creams.

An exotic (and massive) dragon mural adorns the wall, joining the league of tireless busboys, waiters, managers and chefs watching your every move, carefully orchestrating your needs and desires before you're even aware that you wanted for something. That's a delicate skill, not easily attained in a jam-packed restaurant; reservations are highly recommended. Entrees run $25-$40.

Average cost: $21-$30

Centerstage Reviewer: Beth Dugan

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Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday; Dinner: 5:30-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 5:30-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; closed Sunday

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Goi-geous, 1/11/05
I've had an infatuation with these Vietnamese spring rolls since I first tasted them years ago.


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