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  • Dim Sum?

    Post #1 - June 9th, 2004, 1:54 pm
    Post #1 - June 9th, 2004, 1:54 pm Post #1 - June 9th, 2004, 1:54 pm
    I've never had dim sum before, but know that it is basically a cart service where you pick what you eat as it comes around. It seems that Phoenix is the consensus pick as one of the best. I'm planning on going in the next few weeks. Any tips or advice from the well-seasoned vets?
  • Post #2 - June 9th, 2004, 2:42 pm
    Post #2 - June 9th, 2004, 2:42 pm Post #2 - June 9th, 2004, 2:42 pm
    it is basically a cart service where you pick what you eat as it comes around.


    Not really true. Dim Sum is the food - a lot of dumplings and other little dishes eaten at breakfast usually. Most Dim Sum places give you a list and you check off what you want, similar to what you might do in a Sushi bar, tho the food is completely different.

    Some places, Phoenix being a great example, serve it differently, preparing the dishes and carting them around where you can just ask for what is passing. There are pros and cons to this, but I think for a novice it is a great way to go, except for one thing. You will very much want to learn the names of the things you like, so you can order them off the list when you go to a regular place. That can be a challenge at Phoenix, as there is often a bit of a language barrier. But it still is a good way to start. And if you like the food you might want to start, or tag along on, a group Dim Sum outing from LTH Forum because you can get to know the different dumpings from a more knowledgable chowist. That has worked for me, anyway.

    Enjoy.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #3 - June 9th, 2004, 3:14 pm
    Post #3 - June 9th, 2004, 3:14 pm Post #3 - June 9th, 2004, 3:14 pm
    following up dickson's reply - the downstairs Phoenix (I was going to say adjunct but am unsure of ownership) has a menu with just about everything, so far I can tell, being carted around upstairs. I prefer, and you may as well, this option for three reasons:

    1) Stuff is straight out the kitchen, and thus hot. Upstairs there are the little metal hats to keep things fresh and hot, but the fried items can be a little worn by the time they get around the dining room.

    2) The wait for the upstairs is comical unless, I suppose, you get there very early (which I'm not prone to do).

    3) They have congee downstairs and I don't think I've ever seen it passed around on the carts. I like congee, even though they don't have pork and preserved egg.

    Thus, this order off the menu option has advantages, if not the cache of watching things go by (I also order less off the menu). Additionally, there is an english translation on the menu, so you can learn the names of things.

    Hong Min of course used to have this order option as well - do any other places?
  • Post #4 - June 9th, 2004, 3:42 pm
    Post #4 - June 9th, 2004, 3:42 pm Post #4 - June 9th, 2004, 3:42 pm
    Phoenix is good, and the "carted" method is, as mentioned, good for a beginners or big groups.

    I would offer you no other advice than simply "try". You won't know what anything costs, and they'll try and tell you in english what things are, but it won't matter. Look at it. If it looks interesting try it. If you don't like it, it wasn't that much food anyway.

    Here are the standard carted dim sum dishes that I love:

    The flat-noodle dumplings (name anyone?)

    Roast pork, Roast duck

    Chinese broccoli

    Bao

    And, my personal favorite: Sticy rice wrapped in tea leaves.

    Have fun. Let us know how it goes.
  • Post #5 - June 9th, 2004, 4:14 pm
    Post #5 - June 9th, 2004, 4:14 pm Post #5 - June 9th, 2004, 4:14 pm
    Actually, the wait isn't bad at Phoenix five days out of the week.
  • Post #6 - June 9th, 2004, 4:17 pm
    Post #6 - June 9th, 2004, 4:17 pm Post #6 - June 9th, 2004, 4:17 pm
    [quote="eatchicago"]
    The flat-noodle dumplings (name anyone?)

    if you are refering to the wonderful slimey noodles filled with meat, seafood or vegitables & covered with a sweetish soy sauce,i believe they are called "fun"

    eve
  • Post #7 - June 9th, 2004, 5:09 pm
    Post #7 - June 9th, 2004, 5:09 pm Post #7 - June 9th, 2004, 5:09 pm
    flat noodle dumpling = actually called "cheong fun"

    Which literally means "intestine noodles", since they do look like intestines with little pieces of meat inside... =)

    I love the soy sauce that comes with, since it is sweeter than regular soy... Hmmm hungry... We should have an outing for dim sum, one of these days....
  • Post #8 - June 9th, 2004, 5:40 pm
    Post #8 - June 9th, 2004, 5:40 pm Post #8 - June 9th, 2004, 5:40 pm
    Those are the ones. Big, flat, slimey, impossible to lift with any utensil. Wonderful soy sauce. I figured they were some sort of "fun" noodle, I just didn't know the type.

    Thank you.
  • Post #9 - June 9th, 2004, 5:40 pm
    Post #9 - June 9th, 2004, 5:40 pm Post #9 - June 9th, 2004, 5:40 pm
    Grab anything that has shrimp in it. If you see the curried octopus, grab it too. My very favorite thing there is called a seaweed roll. It looks like a thin green cigar that's been fried. The inside is shrimp and it's fabulous. The ribs in black bean sauce are okay, the chicken feet are fine if you eat chicken feet, the BBQ duck is excellent. All the dumplings are good. The beef balls are good.
    Generally the waitress who comes by first has pretty good English, in contrast to most of the people pushing the carts. If there's something you don't understand, wave her down and she'll explain. If there's something special you want (hint: the seaweed roll) ask her if they have it and she'll try to get you some if they're not out. One of the carts will be a big soup pot. It's congee, which I don't care for but all the Chinese will be eating and you may want to try.
    Note that some carts are mainly desserts. Skip those till you're ready, then try the mango jello and do have them pour the sweetened condensed milk over it.
  • Post #10 - June 9th, 2004, 11:32 pm
    Post #10 - June 9th, 2004, 11:32 pm Post #10 - June 9th, 2004, 11:32 pm
    Nobody mentioned that Dim Sum is mostly a lunch/brunch thing. Most places serve from mid-morning until 2 or 3.

    I prefer carts... because often something comes past that I wouldn't think of ordering... or that I don't know what its name is. Try to get a seat at the traffic side of your table... or your tablemates will get to override your choices.

    But if there are just a couple of you, menus are sometimes easier, because then you don't have to wait... and be tempted by items which are ok, and then find yourself too full when the steamed buns ("Bao") finally turn up. Or whatever your favorite is.

    I personally prefer steamed to fried. My memory of "big" Three Happiness is that every time I went there, there was too much fried stuff, and the steamed bao never came. Phoenix has a better mix, as far as my personal preferences are concerned.

    A good place in the NW suburbs (carts on weekends only, otherwise menu... at least the last time I was there) is Jockey Wok and Rolls, in Hoffman Estates. This place is named after the Jockey Club in Hong Kong... I don't know who suggested the bad pun... but they adopted it after "Jockey Restaurant" didn't translate into Namerican. Or so I heard from the owner.


    Other good things to watch for: Shrimp stuffed green pepper or eggplant. Taro cake (a square whitish slice, usually from the same cart as the stuffed pepper). Don't miss sticky rice, which is usually wrapped in lotus leaf (Does somebody wrap it in tea leaves? I want that...!).


    ---dick




    Jockey Wok N Rolls
    (found listed as Jockey Restaurant)
    1017 N. Roselle Road
    Hoffman Estates, IL 60195
    (847) 885-0888
    (between Golf and Higgins, around the south end of the strip mall)
  • Post #11 - June 10th, 2004, 11:21 am
    Post #11 - June 10th, 2004, 11:21 am Post #11 - June 10th, 2004, 11:21 am
    I always think the food from weekend cart service is less fresh and you often leave and don't really know what you get. I like to have dim sums during weekdays at Furama. Like ordering sushi at some Japanese restaurants, you will be given a ticket with dim sum tiems in both Chinese and English and you will pencil down what you want. When an item is ready, they will bring it to the table and mark the ticket. So what you get is freshly made and piping hot in most cases and you get a chance to match an item with its name. Plus all tiems on the ticket are only $1.60 per order from Mondays to Fridays. Good luck and hope you'll find some dishes you like.

    P. Chen

    Furama
    2828 S. Wentworth Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60616-2706
    (312) 225-6888
  • Post #12 - June 12th, 2004, 9:06 pm
    Post #12 - June 12th, 2004, 9:06 pm Post #12 - June 12th, 2004, 9:06 pm
    I'm a fan of cart service because you can see the food before you choose it, and -- in so far as their command of English allows -- you can quiz the servers about what's in it. Also, it's more fun.

    The drawback, as Dick says, is that sometimes your favorites come past after you're too full. However, most cart-service places will allow you to order whatever you want in addition to pointing at what comes by on the carts. If it's something that's circulating, a waiter may just grab it off the cart and bring it to you, but otherwise they'll make it for you in the kitchen. I often see people ordering things off the regular menu to complement their dim sum.

    Try to get a table near the kitchen for the best choice and hottest food. Also, take things when they come past the first time, because they may not be offered again. So if dessert comes by before you're ready for it, just take one and set it aside for later.

    Have fun!
  • Post #13 - June 15th, 2004, 3:06 pm
    Post #13 - June 15th, 2004, 3:06 pm Post #13 - June 15th, 2004, 3:06 pm
    I may get trounced for this, but for a first timer, I begining to like Furama. They have a location on Argyle and one in the "hidden" Chinatown strip mall (get the address first).

    The food is not great at either location, but what they do have is a picture menu placemat that gives the name of most of the dishes, this along with a book on dim sum and you should be able to identify and name all dishes.

    It took many years of hit and miss learning dim sum and with hindsight, I wouldn't do it any other way.

    Regarding the noodle question, while intestine noodle is probably correct or more accurate, the noodle dish is commonly referred to as fun roll or rolled wide noodles.

    Four things for basic Chinese,

    1. Chow=crisp fried
    2. Mein =thin noodle
    3. Fun= wide noodle
    4. lo= steamed or soft cooked.

    This combination gets me through most all the noodle dishes.

    pd
  • Post #14 - June 15th, 2004, 6:50 pm
    Post #14 - June 15th, 2004, 6:50 pm Post #14 - June 15th, 2004, 6:50 pm
    A great place to get familiar with dim sum dishes is, not surprisingly, www.dimsum.com. It's the site of an LA area restaurant, and at www.dimsum.com/ds1.html, you'll find color photos of all the dishes with their names and translations.
    >>Brent
    "Yankee bean soup, cole slaw and tuna surprise."
  • Post #15 - June 19th, 2004, 9:46 am
    Post #15 - June 19th, 2004, 9:46 am Post #15 - June 19th, 2004, 9:46 am
    Have you seen the little book called Dim Sum: A Pocket Guide? (by Kit Shan Li, Chronicle Books, 2004. $7.95) It's small enough to bring along to the restaurant, has color photos of about 50 of the basic items, along with the name in Chinese characters, a non-technical transliteration of the Cantonese pronunciation, and a good description of what each thing is.
  • Post #16 - July 15th, 2004, 12:02 am
    Post #16 - July 15th, 2004, 12:02 am Post #16 - July 15th, 2004, 12:02 am
    I have a cousin who will be visiting Chicago next month. She is trying to find a particular Dim SUM restaurant that she ate at ten years ago. The *ONLY* information that I was able to get from here was that the place was pretty large and that it was located in Chinatown.

    Since I have very limited experience in Chinatown, I though that one of the regulars would give me some ideas.
  • Post #17 - July 15th, 2004, 6:55 am
    Post #17 - July 15th, 2004, 6:55 am Post #17 - July 15th, 2004, 6:55 am
    It is very likely that the restaurant is Phoenix, one of the larger, more popular, and better places for Dim Sum.

    Phoenix
    2131 S. Archer Ave.
    312-328-0848
  • Post #18 - July 15th, 2004, 7:54 am
    Post #18 - July 15th, 2004, 7:54 am Post #18 - July 15th, 2004, 7:54 am
    HI,

    I'm not sure Phoenix is 10 years old, but I know someone here will advise if I'm wrong, but it is also likely she end up at the other Three Happiness, where there is cart service, which is prominently located at:

    Three Happiness Original Restaurant
    209(0) West Cermak Road
    Chicago, IL 60616
    312-842-1964
    Fax: 312-842-8060

    Better Dim Sum, made to order by menu, is at Little Three Happiness:

    Three Happiness Chinese Restaurant No 3
    2130 South Wentworth Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60616
    312-791-1228

    Phoenix has cart service, but in the first floor there is another dumpling house which is also menu-drive dim sum AND you can order from the Phoenix menu.

    My preference is for made-to-order rather than carts.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #19 - July 15th, 2004, 8:17 am
    Post #19 - July 15th, 2004, 8:17 am Post #19 - July 15th, 2004, 8:17 am
    eatchicago wrote:It is very likely that the restaurant is Phoenix, one of the larger, more popular, and better places for Dim Sum.

    EatChicago,

    It could also be 'Big' Three Happiness, the larger not-so-good restaurant of similar name to 'Little' Three Happiness. 'Big' is also a large restaurant which serves rolling cart dim sum and, ten years ago, was quite popular.

    Coincidentally both serve the rolling cart dim sum on the second floor, so it will be difficult for Jlawrence to narrow down his cousins request. My suggestion, irrespective of which restaurant it turns out to be, 'Big' or Phoenix, go to the Phoenix.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    'Little' Three Happiness
    209 W Cermak
    Chicago, IL
  • Post #20 - July 15th, 2004, 8:22 am
    Post #20 - July 15th, 2004, 8:22 am Post #20 - July 15th, 2004, 8:22 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    eatchicago wrote:It is very likely that the restaurant is Phoenix, one of the larger, more popular, and better places for Dim Sum.

    EatChicago,

    It could also be 'Big' Three Happiness, the larger not-so-good restaurant of similar name to 'Little' Three Happiness. 'Big' is also a large restaurant which serves rolling cart dim sum and, ten years ago, was quite popular.


    Indeed, I think it could be either of these. If she's looking for the big room, rolling cart experience in Chinatown either of these should deliver (but I prefer Phoenix.

    Cathy2 wrote:I'm not sure Phoenix is 10 years old, but I know someone here will advise if I'm wrong


    I'm pretty sure it was, but now I'm starting to question myself.
  • Post #21 - July 16th, 2004, 12:39 pm
    Post #21 - July 16th, 2004, 12:39 pm Post #21 - July 16th, 2004, 12:39 pm
    Years ago, there was a large Dim Sum house on the east (?) side of Wentworth called Chiam. They had cart service upstairs on weekends.

    The dim sum there wasn't bad. I think they closed down due to some Chinatown scandal.
  • Post #22 - October 28th, 2005, 11:19 pm
    Post #22 - October 28th, 2005, 11:19 pm Post #22 - October 28th, 2005, 11:19 pm
    LTHers, I need your help. After a mostly fruitless search on the board for "Dim Sum", I am turning to you to hear your completely partial Dim Sum recommendations for Chicago. Sorry, my guest and I cannot hit the 'burbs, so only Chicago establishments will do. I'm familar with Phoenix and Furama...how about other places?

    I realize we don't have a Chicago equivalent of Ocean Star here, but is there anything that you have experienced recently as delicious?

    Thanks!

    -Q
    CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
    -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    www.cakeandcommerce.com
  • Post #23 - October 29th, 2005, 6:27 am
    Post #23 - October 29th, 2005, 6:27 am Post #23 - October 29th, 2005, 6:27 am
    The Big Three Happiness (NE corner Cermak and Wentworth) is o.k.--not great but acceptable. Phoenix is a tad better but overpriced. In general, I like the rolling-cart experience rather than the order-from-the-menu experience, as it adds to the fun.

    I haven't found any place in Chicago to match the big dim sum parlors in Chicago, not to mention those in China.
  • Post #24 - October 29th, 2005, 9:28 am
    Post #24 - October 29th, 2005, 9:28 am Post #24 - October 29th, 2005, 9:28 am
    Jerry wrote:The Big Three Happiness (NE corner Cermak and Wentworth) is o.k.--not great but acceptable.

    Jerry,

    Big three happiness, located at Northwest corner of Wentworth and Cermak, is, in a word, dismal, shuffling out undistinguished versions of poorly executed tourist Chinese to any and all unsuspecting Iowan who happens by.

    Rolling steam cart wise The Phoenix is the clear winner with the added bonus of a sunny second floor view of Chinatown Square's plaza. On the paper menu trail Shui Wah is my favorite and has been discussed on LTHForum, as has The Phoenix, a number of times. 'Little' Three Happiness, while my absolute favorite restaurant in Chicago, has quite good, but not great paper menu dim sum.

    Frankly neither is quite up to par with my favorite Ton Kiang in San Francisco, but both are most certainly in the ball park.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Shui Wah
    2162 S. Archer Ave
    Chicago, IL
    312-225-8811

    The Phoenix
    2131 S. Archer Ave.
    Chicago, IL
    312-328-0848

    "Little' Three Happiness
    209 W Cermak Rd
    Chicago, IL 60616
    312-842-1964
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #25 - October 29th, 2005, 10:29 am
    Post #25 - October 29th, 2005, 10:29 am Post #25 - October 29th, 2005, 10:29 am
    Are you talking about the Ocean Star in California? :shock:
  • Post #26 - October 29th, 2005, 12:36 pm
    Post #26 - October 29th, 2005, 12:36 pm Post #26 - October 29th, 2005, 12:36 pm
    I will second Shui Wah. I have had vivd dreams about their salt and pepper squid and their chiu chow dumplings.
  • Post #27 - October 29th, 2005, 1:15 pm
    Post #27 - October 29th, 2005, 1:15 pm Post #27 - October 29th, 2005, 1:15 pm
    Another vote for Phoenix and I also agree with whats been said about Three Happiness.

    I've also tried dim sum at Happy Chef - which is inside the Chinatown Plaza "mall" on the first floor. At Happy Chef, it's a paper menu - no rolling carts here - and it's fairly good. It appears lots of locals go here to bypass the tourists that frequent the Phoenix.

    As for Furama, it's a nice alternative outside of Chinatown.
  • Post #28 - October 29th, 2005, 1:43 pm
    Post #28 - October 29th, 2005, 1:43 pm Post #28 - October 29th, 2005, 1:43 pm
    foodie1 wrote:Another vote for Phoenix and I also agree with whats been said about Three Happiness.

    Foodie,

    Which Three Happiness? Different owners, different attitude toward customers, different food, different pretty much everything.

    'Big' T. H. = Poorly executed tourist Chinese
    'Little' T.H. = Terrific!

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #29 - October 29th, 2005, 1:47 pm
    Post #29 - October 29th, 2005, 1:47 pm Post #29 - October 29th, 2005, 1:47 pm
    I would also suggest a search for Ed's Pot Sticker House. No rolling carts or even dum sum per se, but plenty of dumplings.
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #30 - October 29th, 2005, 11:51 pm
    Post #30 - October 29th, 2005, 11:51 pm Post #30 - October 29th, 2005, 11:51 pm
    Ed's doesn't count! I've been there for lunch and dinner, I lthink it is great, but I'm looking for treats of the south....

    Yes, Ocean Star in San Gabriel outside of LA. Love that place. And Ton Kiang - love it there too, for entirely different reasons.

    Sigh. Okay, thanks for your Chicago suggestions. I was hoping there was something else out there...guess not.

    -Q
    CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
    -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    www.cakeandcommerce.com

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