When East Meets West
By Julie Mullen
Special to Courier News
New restaurant Houses Chinese and Japanese kitchens Under one roof
Couples who can’t decide whether to go for Chinese or Japanese now may satisfy both food cravings at one sitting.
The owners of the new TL’s Four Seasons Chinese & Japanese Restaurant combined their expertise as restaurateurs to offer area residents the best of both Asian cuisines under one roof. Two complete kitchens can be found within the new restaurant, with two groups of chefs and two distinct menus. And they come from miles around to experience the masterful cooking of Chef Bo, according to TL’s Four Season’s owner Shawn Li.
“He was very well-known in China and had his own cooking show there,” Li said. “He’s been over here two years, working in Chinatown. I told him about the restaurant and he said he would come. I knew his salary was high in China and I was a little worried. But it worked out OK.”
Sushi master Chef Nashimoto greets guest with a nod from behind the 12 –seat sushi bar, as he skillfully slices the freshest fish to be found, such as Norwegian salmon.
“We only use the best fish for our sushi,” Li said. “Norwegian is the best salmon there is, since in cold water the fish are fatter.”
Sushi has increasingly become more popular – and not just in big cities anymore. Suburban dwellers are getting their raw fish delights at nearby places like TL’s Four Seasons, which is located in the heart of downtown Bartlett.
“Sushi has become much more mainstream now,” Li said. “There are many more places now to get sushi. But some places will use frozen fish, where we only use fresh.”
Li and his partner, Tony Zeng, aren’t at all new to the restaurant business. Owning Asian restaurants in Bloomingdale and St. Charles and eyeing their next one in Glen Ellyn, the pair says they know just what customers want and don’t want.
“We didn’t think that a Japanese restaurant alone could sustain itself in this area, which is why we decided to add the Chinese menu,” Li said. “Our business has been about 60 percent Chinese and 40 percent Japanese.”
Besides traditional Chinese courses, Chef Bo offers some signature dished, like Szechwan scallops and the popular black pepper garlic beef tenderloin.
From the Japanese kitchen are the traditional chicken and beef teriyaki, tempuras and sukiyaki entrees. Noodle soups, a lunch favorite, round out the meals.
“Unlike some Japanese restaurants, we have our grill in the kitchen.” Li said. “But people can sit and watch the sushi be made.”
The downtown building housing TL’s Four Seasons formerly was the Shultz Hardware Building. Most of the tightly knit shops along Bartlett Avenue are historic structures, although Li said that his building is relatively new, since it was torn down and replaced a few years back.
TL’s Four Seasons can accommodate up to 90 people and offers a full-service bar. Lunches run $4.50 to $6.50, except for the lunch sushi bar which runs $7.50 to $10. Dinners come in huge portions and are reasonably priced from $8 to $21.
“We want to have good prices,” Li said. “We give generous portions and focus on quality.”
© 2005 Digital Chicago & Hollinger International Inc.