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Ben Pao - 29 Reviews - 52 W. Illinois, Chicago, IL - Romantic Dining Reviews - Phone (312) 222-1888

Ben Pao

52 W. Illinois
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 222-1888
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Ben Pao - Chicago, IL


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We contacted the restaurant before our recent trip to Chicago to find out a bit more about their Gluten Free dishes. We have not been able to find a good sweet and sour chicken...


The ambience is nice. This is a good place to go if you've got a group of people who want to try something different but not too different.

Better Than Chang's 12/6/2010

My family and I dined at Ben Pao's over Thanksgiving weekend. We had reservations, and were seated promptly. The restaurant decor is interesting, and my kids were intrigued by the large lazy susan in the middle of our table. As we typically order a number of dishes and share, this is a nice touch. The food is very good, although more PF Chang's than Chinatown--Americanized versions of Asian food. If it's authentic you want, hop the Red Line to Chinatown and try Phoenix. If you'd like something more accessible, this is your kind of place. The 7 Flavor Chicken is an excellent dish, and we enjoyed the shrimp ginger dumplings. The food is uniformly appealing--nothing really makes you say "Wow!", but it's all pretty good. The service tended to be the same. Throughout the meal our server was reasonably attentive, but when it came time for the check, it was a very long wait. Ben Pao is a very solid 3-star restaurant. No unpleasant surprises, but no pleasant ones, either. more

Great for Gluten Free Night out 10/10/2009

We contacted the restaurant before our recent trip to Chicago to find out a bit more about their Gluten Free dishes. We have not been able to find a good sweet and sour chicken for OVER a year since going gluten free due to our son's Celiac Disease. So, we thought we would ask to see if they could accomodate and accomodate they did. The VP came out and introduced himself and was very interested in making our son's dining experience with them special AND SAFE! The sweet and sour chicken was flavorful and plentiful. The sauce was not heavy and the breading on the chicken was not so heavy you couldn't find the chicken. The taste was excellent and our service was excellent. It was NOT loud during our dinner. It was busy and we had no problems with getting drinks refilled or things delivered quickly. We WILL definitely be back. We had gluten free and gluten filled items at our table and enjoyed them all. The wheat free beer on the menu is an ale that had lots of taste and I would have never known it was wheat free. My husband ordered the wheat free beer although he didn't need to and really liked it. He also ordered a chicken that was lightly breaded in an orange flavored sauce that was awesome. Very light again on the breading and lots of great flavor. Our compliments to Ed Culleeney for making our dinner out both safe and enjoyable! Kudos to you and your staff, Pros: Good service, atmosphere and prices Cons: parking like everything else in Chicago! more

Bad service outweighs good food 9/20/2009

I went here recently for a friend's birthday. Our party was large enough (10 people) that the server received the automatic 18% tip. Throughout the night, she barely paid any attention to our table, and was borderline rude when she was taking our orders. Everything we ordered took an extremely long time to arrive. Also, the restaurant's policy is to only take three types of payment for each table. This makes paying in a group very difficult. I bet this restaurant would be great if you went with small group, but do not go here in a larger group. Pros: yummy food Cons: terrible service more

bad headache 1/22/2009

have been a fan in the past and have recommended to others, not likely to go back. although totally get chinese new year, this evening it was too loud and had drums that would cause a headache to anyone. after a long week had a table of adults, the drum was stopped at the table, all had their heads down with fingers in ears to stop the level and asked that the drums move slightly forward, the staff, with arms crossed over chessed, dismissed the request, asked for manager who also didnt seem to get it. too bad. after that, the food that had been good in the past didn't seem to compensate for what was an unnecessarily bad evening. more

Ben Pao 12/5/2008

The food is great and tasty, the vibe is cool. good place to try some great Chinese dishes, service was good but could be better, oh and btw Obama was dining at a restaurant next door, security was all over the place. Pros: Food Cons: none more

Great customer service and superb food 1/1/2008

We just happened upon this place one Friday and decided to try it out. It looks like PF Chang's meets The Big Bowl, but the food and service surpassed them both. Our waitress was knowledge about the menu and made great recommendations throughout our meal - she even suggested a wine that turned out to be perfect. Since it was our first time in the restaurant the manager brought over an appetizer - what a pleasant surprise. This place is perfect for a date or to hang out with a group of friends. Great food, atmosphere, and prices! more

Great Service 5/23/2007

My husband and I were in Chicago this past weekend visiting and we were roaming around downtown hungry and looking for a good restaurant. We stumbled about Ben Pao and decided to check it out. I have to admit, upon first glance, it seems like a typical PF Chang's type restaurant: very Americanized Chinese fare with caucasian waiters wearing chi paos (a la the first few scenes of Zach Braff in Garden State). All this did make me initally wary, however, the experience turned out to be great. Our waitress immediately introduced herself and was attentive throughout the night without being overbearing. We ordered a large bowl of hot and sour soup to start (which was good but not amazing) but a few minutes later a gentleman showed up at our table delivering chicken and shrimp fried spring rolls. I started to correct him on our order, but it turned out he was the manager and that the waitress had told him that we were out of towners from Houston. The manager simply wanted to welcome us to the restaurant personally and give us a complimentary appetizer. My husband and I went to a lot of good restaurants during our stay in Chicago, but this was the only restaurant that made such an effort to make us feel welcome and to extend such hospitality. It wasn't so much the spring rolls (although they were very very good, and we usually don't eat fried food) but the subtle graciousness of the waitress and the manager that we were so impressed with. I highly recommend that people try to this place. It's amazing what an impact great service can have on your dining out experience. I've noticed recently that even at the nice restaurants, the waitstaff often seem nonchalant and flippant, distracted, and not too interested. This was a nice breath of fresh air. By the way, we had the special beef with shitake mushrooms and the spicy eggplant and tofu-both were which were great. Pros: Very reasonably priced, Impeccable service Cons: Great Chinese food, but not truly authentic more

Allways a good meal 2/8/2007

Ben Pao may be often overlooked for smaller, more traditional Chinese restaurants but it certainly shouldn't be. The food is always well prepared, tasty and presented nicely. I have never had a bad meal there and would recommend it to anyone looking to enjoy a good Chinese dinner. P.S. Try the Spring Rolls Pros: Always solid, great service Cons: Sometimes the wait is too long more

Great Chinese in River North 1/14/2007

My wife and I went to Ben Pao and found the food to be very good. We had egg rolls and chicken satay's as starters, and then I had the 7 Flavor Chicken while my wife had the Kung Pao Chicken. Both of us were impressed with both the quality of the food and the attentiveness of the service. We definitely would refer any one we know to try out the great food at Ben Pao's. Pros: Food, Price more

My girl loves their fish 9/20/2006

My boo and I have gone to this place MANY times. It always puts her in a good mood and she's hard to please. I rec this place ALWAYS to my buds that want to impress. Pros: cool atmosphere more

Great atmosphere. 6/15/2006

Love the large menu selection. Great for large groups and sharing. good food and service. very reasonably priced. more

Where's the spice? 6/15/2006

I don't know if they fired their chef, or lost the garlic, or what -- but the food was not good. We had been there a couple of years ago and it was great. However, they've reduced the menu options, the alcohol is exceedingly pricy even for a Chicago restaurant, and worst of all: the food was incredibly bland. The chicken, in fact, tasted slightly burned. There are many great restaurants in Chicago, this is no longer one of them. The sauce for the coconut patay tasted distinctly like mayonaise with a dash of toasted coconut and a bit of sherry or something. The sauce for the pot stickers was limited to one shaker of bland sweet sauce, unlike the previous tasty selections. The service was excellent, but the food was not worth eating. Pros: ambiance, service Cons: food more

Chinese food with flair 4/28/2006

This is a good restaurant for guys who are sick of being dragged to sushi restaurants by their significant others. If you're looking for a big meal with some unusual flavors and pretty presentation, try Ben Pao. The ambience is upscale. The food is high quality. I tried the Honey Walnut Shrimp dish. I really liked it. The eggrolls were top notch as well. Pros: Unique chinese, Nice decor more

Go to Ben Pao Now! 2/15/2006

I am almost certain I will never have scallops as good as theirs ever again! Try the different sakes-you only live once! If I lived in Chicago and had the disposable income, this would be a mandatory at least once a month place to eat. Pros: food quality/taste, ambiance Cons: you must valet it, $$$ more

User review by eeb23 12/12/2005

Food was good, service was HORRIBLE! You are paying more for the name than you are for the food. Portions were small for the money you paid. Pros: Great Ambiance, Tasty Drinks Cons: expensive for portion, horrible service more

Best Ambience 10/9/2005

Since I'm more of an Americanized-Chinese diner, I don't feel that I can accurately judge this. The service was wonderful and my companions who do enjoy Asian food were happy with their meals. The potstickers and mongolian beef were great, the satays were average. The homemade non-alcoholic drinks are the best -- they make their own Gingerale and Passion Fruit sodas that are a must have! Pros: Location, Waitstaff, Atmosphere Cons: Parking more

ENJOY Chicago's Best Asian Restaurant 7/7/2005

Upon entering Ben Pao, the first thing that I noticed was the exquisite decor. The lighting and music were perfect, and I just knew it would be a wonderful evening. Everything that we ordered exceeded our expectations. The plate presentation was only surpassed by the taste of the food. I personally recommend the Black Pepper Scallops, and the Cherry Bomb Shrimp. Surprisingly, the extensive wine menu actually paired just beautifully with the Chinese cuisine, and the specialty drinks were a welcome addition to an already perfect evening. Pros: food, staff, ambiance Cons: parking more

DON'T MISS THIS PLACE!!!! 3/28/2005

First of all, best egg rolls EVER!!! The food is amazing. I love the ambience and the waitstaff is the nicest in the city! It's a little pricey, so not something you can eat daily on a budget, but it's well worth the splurge Pros: Food, ambience, service Cons: a little pricey, parking more

You have to try the ginger ale! 1/17/2004

They make their own ginger ale; try their cocktail made with it. We had an enjoyable evening especially since our concierrge comped our appetizer. The waiter was personable and attentive.When we return to Chicago, this restaurant is definitely on our list to revisit. Pros: extensive menu, cocktails, daily special more

great experience at Ben Pao 12/26/2003

I feel Ben Pao is a great dining experience. I have been often and the food is always great, specials have been always interesting and consistently good. I find the service to be always upbeat and friendly and I see much interaction with staff and management on the floor. The team is always welcoming and the decor is top notch. I feel they are not the typical chinatown experience and I am glad. If I want cheap uninavitive food I will visit chinatown if I want an all around outstanding chinese dining experience I think of Ben Pao first and foremost. Great Job, keep it up Ben Pao Pros: Food Creativity, Wine list and drinks, friendly staff Cons: can be crowded, carry-out area ok more
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Menu for Ben Pao

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Owner Message

  • The drama, excitement, and pleasures of a vast and ancient land have been transported to this expansive, comfortable, modern setting. At Ben Pao, your experience is both luxurious and relaxed. Savor China's great culinary treasures in unpretentious, enjoyable creations in a meal filled with wonderful flavors and beautiful accents.

    Articulate servers and a menu that clearly describes the best dishes of Mongolian, Cantonese, Shanghainese, and Sichuan cuisines let you easily select a meal that is everything you want it to be, whether your taste runs to familiar favorites or bold new adventures.

    Marvelous, Asian-accented, fun-inspired beverages and a range of scrumptious world-cuisine desserts start and end meals with laughs and treats.


  • In Short
    The black-and-red color scheme is lightened by blond wood, gold walls and high-tech, Asian-inspired light fixtures. The menu offers inspired versions of traditional regional dishes, including a wide variety of starters--from satays and pot stickers to spring rolls and peanut noodle salad--that make this a great place for grazing. Popular entrees include black peppered shrimp, sesame chicken and Mongolian beef.

  • 9/7/2004 Provided by Citysearch

Additional information

  • Payments:

    Visa, American Express, Diner's Club, Discover, Master Card
  • Neighborhoods:

    Central, Near North Side