Friday, December 22, 2017

Kow Kow Chinese Restaurant, Chicago / Lincolnwood, Illinois

Kow Kow first opened its doors solely as a carryout 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 that had a personality and charisma all of 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 wide spectrum of stores: Carol Corr, Nathan's Restaurant & Delicatessen (later LaPetite Restaurant), Dutch Mill Candies, Rusnak Brothers Furniture, Abrams Department Store, The Hang It Shop, Cut-Rate Toy Store, Bud Schaibly Bowling Alley, Adam's Apple, Hillman's Food Store, The Clothes Barn, Schwartz's Women's Garments, Robert Hall, Rosen's Pharmacy, Bon Ton On Devon Restaurant, Minky's Bicycle Shop, F.W. Woolworth, Hi-Low Grocery Store, Seymour Paisin Clothing Store, Crawford Department Store, Manzelmann Store, Lazar's Juvenile Furniture, and of course, Kow Kow Restaurant.

Back 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, they moved to a much larger location at Cicero & Pratt Avenues. On October 18, 1989, Don and wife Helen moved Kow Kow Restaurant to Lincolnwood at 6755 North Cicero Avenue at Pratt Avenue, bringing all of their original recipes with them.

After nearly 66 years of serving the finest Cantonese cuisine, Kow Kow closed its doors on Sunday, May 31, 2015. Business was very good, but Don wanted time with his family and retired. When a restaurant is held in such high esteem, many owners close instead of selling, so as not to have their legacy ruined by someone else.

Three days before the pre-announced closing of Kow Kow, the kitchen staff was unable to keep up with the demand for egg rolls, and a sign was posted on the front door that said: "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 which totaled 24,500 frozen egg rolls.

To this day, Kow Kow had the freshest, made-per-order, egg rolls, and my personal favorite, Kow Kow's lemon chicken!
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. Ate at Devon location for many years and my faves were of course their famous egg rolls as well as their hot chicken sandwiches (phenomenal) surely will miss it...

  3. 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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