On the plate: You'll get two menus when you sit down. One features "real" Chinese food with seafood and various innards in a starring role. Some of these dishes are over the Cheap Eats' $13 entree limit, but watching a crab or lobster plucked from a tank in the dining room, only to re-emerge minutes later all hot and aromatic with ginger and scallion, makes a splurge very tempting. The other menu is the more familiar fare non-Asians tend to order, like General Tso's chicken, sweet and sour pork and beef chow mein.
Take a pass: Chicken with sweet corn soup ($5.95 for a "medium" serving; enough for four) is the usual bland, mucilaginous bowl that even the most timid eater would enjoy. I wanted something to throw into the sou, anything, from chile sauce to a sprinkling of scallion rings. Dried scallops, a delicacy, get lost in a dish of pea shoots overlaid with neat slices of mushrooms. Pot sticker dumplings are stuffed with a bright pink seafood filling; good flavor and delicate texture but I pine for the lustier pork variety.
Thirst quenchers: Tea, beer, wine, fruit smoothies.
Price range: Appetizers, $3-$4.95; soups, $2-$3.50 for individual bowls, $9.95-$18.95 for family-sizes; most entrees, $6.95-$12.95, expect to pay slightly more for some shrimp dishes and market price for lobster and crab; hot pots, $9.95-$12.95.
Silver Seafood Restaurant (3 forks)
4829 N. Broadway Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. daily
Credit cards: A, DC, DS, M, V
Noise: Conversation friendly/bustling, depends on how busy the restaurant is
Other: Take-out, delivery charge $2, free parking.
Live music: Skip across the street to the venerable Green Mill Jazz Club (4802 N. Broadway; 773-878-5552) where there's plenty of music every night of the week served up in a comfortable, atmospheric lounge. Thursdays are particularly fun thanks to Alan Gresik's Swing Shift Orchestra. Hepcats twirl their ladies around the tiny dance floor to the music of this 16-piece swing band. Check out the schedule at the club's Web site, www.greenmilljazz.com
Cook it yourself: If good Chinese food gets you in the mood to cook up some of your own, just walk up the block to the bustling Broadway Supermarket (4879 N. Broadway; 773-334-3838), also known as Thaong Xa My A. Everything you could possibly need, from soy sauce to whole fish, large woks to tiny teacups, is here.
Ratings key: 4 forks, don't miss it; 3 forks, one of the best; 2 forks, very good; 1 fork, good
Reviews are based on anonymous visits by Tribune staff members; meals are paid for by the Tribune. ----------