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Current Conditions

By Caroline Clough in Food on Oct 23, 2007 5:00PM

For this week's exploration of the (hopefully not dirty or seedy) underbelly of Chicago's restaurant scene we thought we would look into a few of the establishments that LTHForum recently named as 2007's great neighborhood restaurants.

Sun Wah Restaurant on Argyle always looks so tempting, what with the whole cooked ducks hanging in its windows and the pungent aroma of something tasty being whipped up in the kitchen wafting out the restaurant's doors. And, thankfully, that's how it will stay...tempting, that is. Because according to its latest inspection (last October) there wasn't a single violation found. Phew.

Smoque, on the other hand, wasn't quite without faults at its last check up (March, 2007). Though it didn't have any major violations it did have a few minor ones. Many restaurants, it seems, don't have properly smooth and easily cleaned floors. Smoque was no exception. It also had problems with Violation Code #31: Containers and utensils shall be inverted, covered, or otherwise protected from contamination until used. All single-service drinking straws and containers shall be discarded immediately after use. We wonder if the violation was in the lack of container/utensil inversion or the repetitive use of drinking straws?

We couldn't find many new violations among a number of these restaurants' reports, most share the same three or four violations dealing with smoothness of utensils (free of barbs, nicks, and other wear-and-tear), cleanliness of floors and placement of air ducts. Which is why we might have gotten a little excited to see that Healthy Food Lithuanian, in addition to having the more run of the minor violations, was also cited for one "critical violation". Violation # 8: Equipment and utensils should get proper exposure to the sanitizing solution during the rinse cycle. Bactericidal treatment shall consist of exposure of all dish and utensil surfaces to a rinse of clean water at a temperature of not less than 180°F. This violation was fixed at the time of the inspection. Was the water not hot enough? Were bits of plate and fork not being properly exposed?

Luckily most of the restaurants we checked out had few to no violations and/or any major violation was promptly fixed at the time of the inspection. So, LTHForum members and eaters everywhere, continue visiting these neighborhood restaurants. We can say, with a fair amount of certainty, that nothing bad will happen to your belly while eating there...your wallet may be a different matter.

Sun Wah exterior photograph found here.