Strange to see Dan Ryan in the news this past week. Stranger still that he was brought up by Bill Daley, who suggested renaming the Dan Ryan Expressway in honor of Barack Obama. It must be a bad idea, since Bill Daley is suggesting it. Half naked play for African-American support (while, at the same time, revealing how stupid he thinks Chicagoans must be) half sign of how out-of-touch Daley is (cause the really big issue facing the next Chicago mayor is how to honor the former president).
Right after Chicagoans expressed the above, in a dozen places and ways, the next question was: who's Dan Ryan? A reminder that these supposed honors become meaningless identifiers. I knew Ryan was Cook County board president, but not due to the highway, but because the name is used, as something of a non sequitur, by a chain of steakhouses in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. This snippet ran in the business pages.
Not really. While you can indeed get a piece of steak that outstrips the thumb-sized beef bites that typically accompany Chinese dishes, the Dan Ryan steak, though tasty, is still rather anemic compared with the formidable footballs of meat encountered back home at a Gibson's or a Smith & Wollensky's.
But back home is 5,000 miles away, and homesick Chicagoans, as well as locals searching for exotic foreign fare, have kept Dan Ryan's—named for the president of the Cook County Board who died in 1961—in business for a decade now.
Besides a large oil painting of the former highway builder, Dan Ryan's, of course, sports a Chicago decor—a Vienna hot dog sign, an Illinois flag, framed front page of the Chicago Herald Examiner. Over the bar, official portraits of Rich Daley, Jane Byrne and Harold Washington.
Chicago is associated with pizza in much of the world, but in Asia, the city is synonymous with steak. There are five Dan Ryan steakhouses, three in Hong Kong, one in Singapore and this one in the capital of Taiwan, where it is not even the sole Chicago-oriented steak restaurant: there is also a Capone's Chophouse & Cabaret.
—Originally published in the Sun-Times, July 16, 2002