Friday, December 22, 2017

Kow Kow Chinese Restaurant, Chicago / Lincolnwood, Illinois

Kow Kow opened its doors solely as a carry-out restaurant on August 13, 1949, at its original location at 2548 West Devon Avenue in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of the West Ridge Community in Chicago's far north side. Four years later, owners Don Moy and his father, Nathan, expanded the restaurant into the adjacent storefront and became a full-service dine-in establishment. Nathan, with his trademark cigar in hand, and son Don happily served the clientele on Devon for over 32 years.
Kow Kow Egg Rolls.
Kow Kow, along with the other proprietors of Devon Avenue, was part of a neighborhood with charisma and a personality all its own. The residents of West Rogers Park didn't need to drive to Old Orchard in Skokie to shop and eat; they walked to Devon Avenue and found all they needed. There was a broad spectrum of stores and restaurants: The Red Hot Ranch, Carol Corr Ladies Fashions, Nathan's Restaurant & Delicatessen (later LaPetite Restaurant), Dutch Mill Candies, Rusnak Brothers Furniture, Libby Camera, Radio Shack, Abrams Department Store, The Hang It Shop, Cut-Rate Toy Store, Bud Schaibly Bowling Alley (on 2nd floor), Hillman's Food Store, The Clothes Barn, Schwartz's Women's Garments, Robert Hall Department Store, Rosen's Pharmacy, Bon Ton On Devon Restaurant, Minky's Bicycle Shop, Dan-Dee's Red Hots, Il Forno Pizzeria, Gigio's Pizza Restaurant, Gold Coin Restaurant, F.W. Woolworth, Hi-Low Grocery Store, Seymour Paisin Clothing Store, Crawford Department Store, The Different Circle, Manzelmann' Department Store, Rosen's Pharmacy, Lazar's Juvenile Furniture, Hobby Models, and of course, Kow Kow Restaurant.

In the 1950s and '60s, Cantonese restaurants were few and far between. Customers came in from the city and other suburbs. "I still remember Eli Schulman coming in from his steakhouse and dining with Grandpa Nathan," recalls Don's daughter Wendy. Sadly, Nathan passed away in 1974, having worked 363 days of the year every year since Kow Kow opened (closing only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day).

With the changing neighborhood, Kow Kow Chinese Restaurant moved to a much larger location. 
On October 18, 1989, Don and his wife Helen moved Kow Kow Restaurant to 6755 North Cicero Avenue at Pratt Avenue, Lincolnwood, bringing all their original recipes.

After nearly 66 years of serving the finest Cantonese cuisine, Kow Kow closed its doors on Sunday, May 31, 2015. Business was excellent, but Don wanted time with his family and retired. 

Restaurant owners and/or the name of the establishment, achieve such iconic status that there is a fear of selling. It could ruin the very essence of what made them special in the first place. Closure becomes a way to preserve the Restaurants and restaurateurs pristine reputation.

Three days before the closing date announcement, Kow Kow's kitchen staff needed help to keep up with the demand for egg rolls. A sign on the front door read: "No Egg Rolls." Hundreds of customers responded to Kow Kow's offer to place take-home orders for frozen egg rolls. By 9 PM on Sunday, closing day, they fulfilled orders totaling 24,500 frozen egg rolls.

y favorite Kow Kow dish was their freshly made egg rolls. To this day, I compare every other egg roll I eat to Kow Kow's - So far, no other has claimed the title of "Best Egg Roll Ever." The lemon chicken was also exquisite.

The Best Egg Rolls... Ever!
Chicago's Best Chinese Restaurant: Kow Kow

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


  1. Had many family meals from Kow Kow on Devon! Also ate many meals at the Golden Pheasant Restaurant on Broadway! Used to get a fried rice dinner for $1.25 that easily filled up a growing boy!

  2. I first had the food at Kow Kow’s when they were located on Devon. The best food. Then they moved to a bigger location. Ate there a couple of times. I had moved away for a bit. Then came back and it was closed for good 😢


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