New Star Restaurant (7444 W North Ave, Elmwood Park) had been serving up Cantonese cuisine since 1954, but Jinny Zhao’s ownership has brought fresh life to the North Avenue mainstay. Zhao is proud to carry on the New Star traditions started by the Moy family, but she had a unique vision for the restaurant and she has been streadily bringing her vsion to fruition.
Zhao has helmed the Elmwood Park restaurant for four years, but this isn’t her first foray into the restaurant world. Thirty years ago, Zhao took her first job at a south side Chinese restaurant. Eventually she bought the place and grew the staff from 5 to 150 before retiring.
“I retired for 6 months,” says Zhao with a laugh, “being retired is terrible for me so I bought this New Star.”
Zhao took over the restaurant with the intention of updating it in every way. She first made changes to the menu at New Star by doing away will all canned products in favor of using the freshest ingredients available. Secondly, she renovated the restaurant, ripping up the carpeting and replacing it with modern wood floors, updating the wall finishes and restoring the original restaurant artwork. Lastly she transformed the outdated and under-utilized banquet room into a vibrant hibachi venue. New Star’s menu has also been expanded to offer Thai, Japanese and Hibachi dishes. Traditional Chinese dishes continue to satisfy longtime customers, but sushi and hibachi are attracting a new generation of customers to New Star in Elmwood Park.
Zhao is particularly proud of New Star’s updated egg rolls. The perfectly fried eggrolls, come two to a portion and feature a bounty of BBQ pork, shrimp, vegetables in a pleasing peanut sauce.
“They are the best around because we use best quality meat, vegetables and peanut butter,” says Zhao confidently, “and our Crab Rangoon is made from real crab, too.”
New Star also offers a vibrant, high-value lunch menu filled with a diverse array of Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Hibachi specials. The Japanese “pick two” maki special comes with both a warming bowl of miso soup and a green salad. The generous portion of vegetarian Thai basil noodles come with egg drop soup and and order of fresh Thai spring rolls.
Today New Star celebrates its long history in Elmwood Park, but the expansive restaurant has been redesigned to welcome a types of Asian food lovers.
“People who live here were used to the old-style Chinese cooking, but now we are not so old-fashioned,” says Zhao proudly.
New Star Restaurant 7444 W North Ave, Elmwood Park, IL 60707