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Dim Sum at Ding Sheng [was: Lao You Ju]

Dim Sum at Ding Sheng [was: Lao You Ju]
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  • Dim Sum at Ding Sheng [was: Lao You Ju]

    Post #1 - October 29th, 2012, 8:15 am
    Post #1 - October 29th, 2012, 8:15 am Post #1 - October 29th, 2012, 8:15 am
    Lao You Ju has expanded into the storefront to the north of their original location, making the room bigger and allowing them to start serving Dim Sum as well as their regular menu. Tony Hu has brought in a dim sum chef from his home town in China and has outfitted the kitchen in the new storefront strictly for the preparation of dim sum, with the rest of the menu coming from the already existing kitchen.

    We had a chance to try a pretty broad section of the menu over the weekend and I’ve got to say, I came away very impressed. This is easily the best dim sum being served in Chinatown right now. As much as I miss the dearly departed GNR Shui Wah, the dim sum at Lao You Ju surpasses even that which was served at Shui Wah. There is not a huge selection of items on the paper menu, but those that are there were universally good. The Xao Long Bao were excellent. The wrappers were delicate and the soup inside was both plentiful and tasty. The XLB are served in little foil cupcake holders, which is a bit odd but helps to keep the dumplings from breaking as you lift them to your plate. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not claiming that the XLB are world class, but they are easily the best in town. Please forgive the crappy cell phone picture © of the XLB. I didn’t plan on taking pictures and I didn’t have my camera with me, but I couldn’t resist taking a shot of these.

    Lao You Ju Xao Long Bao

    I’m very excited to have this new dim sum option! Dim sum is served daily from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM. The entire Lao You Ju menu is also available, if dim sum is not your cup of tea.

    [moderator edit]
    Dim Su at Ding Sheng [was: Lao You Ju]
    2002 S Wentworth Ave
    Chicago, IL 60616
    (224) 252-1869
    (312) 225-7818
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #2 - October 29th, 2012, 9:45 am
    Post #2 - October 29th, 2012, 9:45 am Post #2 - October 29th, 2012, 9:45 am
    Have you had the dim sum at Ming Hin or Cai? Those are currently my #1 and #2 dim sum spots. I'm curious how they compare, I guess next time I'll be heading to Lao You Ju, love that XLB.
  • Post #3 - October 29th, 2012, 9:52 am
    Post #3 - October 29th, 2012, 9:52 am Post #3 - October 29th, 2012, 9:52 am
    Suiname wrote:Have you had the dim sum at Ming Hin or Cai? Those are currently my #1 and #2 dim sum spots. I'm curious how they compare, I guess next time I'll be heading to Lao You Ju, love that XLB.


    I've not been to Cai as of yet, but I liked the dim sum at Lao You Ju much better than Ming Hin, though Ming Hin was pretty good. I just think the flavors are much cleaner and fresher at LJY and the chef really has a great hand at "pastry". The buns and dumpling wrappers are light and delicate. Also, although the menu is relatively small, they have a few items that I haven't seen elsewhere in Chicago.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #4 - October 29th, 2012, 9:56 am
    Post #4 - October 29th, 2012, 9:56 am Post #4 - October 29th, 2012, 9:56 am
    Thanks for the report. I'm anxious to give this dim sum (and XLB) a try. I just wish they'd get rid of those LA Housewives XLB serving vessels. :twisted:
  • Post #5 - October 29th, 2012, 11:33 am
    Post #5 - October 29th, 2012, 11:33 am Post #5 - October 29th, 2012, 11:33 am
    This is very exciting! Having never really been satisfied with chicago Dim Sum options, I'd like to setup an LTH meetup here and give it a try. Do you recall any special hours? Is it weekend only?
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #6 - October 29th, 2012, 11:35 am
    Post #6 - October 29th, 2012, 11:35 am Post #6 - October 29th, 2012, 11:35 am
    laikom wrote:This is very exciting! Having never really been satisfied with chicago Dim Sum options, I'd like to setup an LTH meetup here and give it a try. Do you recall any special hours? Is it weekend only?


    I wrote:Dim sum is served daily from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #7 - October 29th, 2012, 11:41 am
    Post #7 - October 29th, 2012, 11:41 am Post #7 - October 29th, 2012, 11:41 am
    stevez wrote:
    laikom wrote:This is very exciting! Having never really been satisfied with chicago Dim Sum options, I'd like to setup an LTH meetup here and give it a try. Do you recall any special hours? Is it weekend only?


    I wrote:Dim sum is served daily from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM.


    thanks! I didn't notice the dates, post-picture... :)
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #8 - October 29th, 2012, 4:31 pm
    Post #8 - October 29th, 2012, 4:31 pm Post #8 - October 29th, 2012, 4:31 pm
    Interesting report. Setting aside my reservations about Tony Hu’s appropriation of the XLB business model, will have to go try it. I will say that the cupcake holders are beyond strange. The XLB should stand, or not, on its own merits. I already dislike the carrot slices that one of the places (maybe Phoenix) puts on the bottom. This is way worse. It’s aesthetically disconcerting and also simply unnecessary if the XLB is properly made and served. Still, I will go try it.

    Couple of other data points. First, I agree with the comment above that Cai and Ming Hin have been the best among the Chicago dim sum places (at least up until now). Ming Hin was mediocre when it first opened but is really like a completely different restaurant now. And Cai has been uniformly good. I’m surprised people here don’t like Cai and Ming Hin more. They seem to me clearly a step above Phoenix or the former Shui Wah. I never understood why people liked Shui Wah, but could kinda see it for being about the best available dim sum option at the time. Why people liked Shui Wah after Cai came along and Ming Hin improved is mystifying to me. Curious to see where LYJ fits.

    Second, as far as XLB, have had decent versions at Cai and Ming Hin. Have also had a surprisingly decent version at Hing Kee from the dumpling/dough lady in front, though I would absolutely insist on a freshly wrapped batch. They sometimes store pre made dumplings in the cooler. Pork ones were better than the pork and crab at Hing Kee.
  • Post #9 - October 29th, 2012, 5:01 pm
    Post #9 - October 29th, 2012, 5:01 pm Post #9 - October 29th, 2012, 5:01 pm
    Hao wrote:Interesting report. Setting aside my reservations about Tony Hu’s appropriation of the XLB business model, will have to go try it. I will say that the cupcake holders are beyond strange. The XLB should stand, or not, on its own merits. I already dislike the carrot slices that one of the places (maybe Phoenix) puts on the bottom. This is way worse. It’s aesthetically disconcerting and also simply unnecessary if the XLB is properly made and served. Still, I will go try it.

    Couple of other data points. First, I agree with the comment above that Cai and Ming Hin have been the best among the Chicago dim sum places (at least up until now). Ming Hin was mediocre when it first opened but is really like a completely different restaurant now. And Cai has been uniformly good. I’m surprised people here don’t like Cai and Ming Hin more. They seem to me clearly a step above Phoenix or the former Shui Wah. I never understood why people liked Shui Wah, but could kinda see it for being about the best available dim sum option at the time. Why people liked Shui Wah after Cai came along and Ming Hin improved is mystifying to me. Curious to see where LYJ fits.

    Second, as far as XLB, have had decent versions at Cai and Ming Hin. Have also had a surprisingly decent version at Hing Kee from the dumpling/dough lady in front, though I would absolutely insist on a freshly wrapped batch. They sometimes store pre made dumplings in the cooler. Pork ones were better than the pork and crab at Hing Kee.


    I think, thus far, Cai has had the best Dim Sum i've had in Chicago. It is the place i currently suggest when someone insists on dim sum. Most of the stuff with very good, with a couple duds. The problem with all of the dim sum i've had in Chicago is that no place seems to put that extra effort into it. My only other basis of comparison is Dim Sum which i've had in china and malaysia, so my standards are pretty high. I don't expect that level of dim sum anywhere in Chicago but I'm glad to hear there is another option, and I am excited to check out Lao You Ju. I'm thinking about posting an event on the events board for 1:30pm on saturday. Keep an eye out.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #10 - October 29th, 2012, 5:03 pm
    Post #10 - October 29th, 2012, 5:03 pm Post #10 - October 29th, 2012, 5:03 pm
    Sound like an LTH event waiting to happen...
  • Post #11 - October 29th, 2012, 6:00 pm
    Post #11 - October 29th, 2012, 6:00 pm Post #11 - October 29th, 2012, 6:00 pm
    Hao wrote:Couple of other data points. First, I agree with the comment above that Cai and Ming Hin have been the best among the Chicago dim sum places (at least up until now). Ming Hin was mediocre when it first opened but is really like a completely different restaurant now. And Cai has been uniformly good. I’m surprised people here don’t like Cai and Ming Hin more. They seem to me clearly a step above Phoenix or the former Shui Wah. I never understood why people liked Shui Wah, but could kinda see it for being about the best available dim sum option at the time. Why people liked Shui Wah after Cai came along and Ming Hin improved is mystifying to me. Curious to see where LYJ fits.

    Cai has gotten a lot better, I think; it's now a weekly stop for us. I wouldn't say *uniformly* good, though -- you still have to order wisely. The congee is mediocre and there are other dishes like the spicy wontons and XLB that I don't think are worth it. And execution can still be spotty (dumplings sometimes come out with torn skins, some dishes are lukewarm, etc.). But it's so cheap that it's hard to complain and most of the time, you can put together quite a fine meal.
  • Post #12 - October 29th, 2012, 8:10 pm
    Post #12 - October 29th, 2012, 8:10 pm Post #12 - October 29th, 2012, 8:10 pm
    I just posted the event for this saturday at 1pm. Hope some of you can make it!
    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=36132
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #13 - October 30th, 2012, 8:45 am
    Post #13 - October 30th, 2012, 8:45 am Post #13 - October 30th, 2012, 8:45 am
    stevez wrote:The entire Lao You Ju menu is also available, if dim sum is not your cup of tea.


    i see what you did there.
  • Post #14 - October 30th, 2012, 8:51 am
    Post #14 - October 30th, 2012, 8:51 am Post #14 - October 30th, 2012, 8:51 am
    We had a chance to try a pretty broad section of the menu over the weekend and I’ve got to say, I came away very impressed. This is easily the best dim sum being served in Chinatown right now.


    Also, although the menu is relatively small, they have a few items that I haven't seen elsewhere in Chicago.


    What did you have that made you think the dim sum is the best in Chinatown... What did they offer that you haven't seen elsewhere?
  • Post #15 - November 4th, 2012, 12:37 pm
    Post #15 - November 4th, 2012, 12:37 pm Post #15 - November 4th, 2012, 12:37 pm
    Thanks to stevez for posting about the Dim Sum for us. I've long been a Chicago Dim Sum naysayer, but I'm happy to report that my mind has been changed.

    The menu was a bit smaller than most other places, and I think that really allowed the kitchen to focus on the quality of what they did serve. Everything came out fresh and hot from the kitchen, and having ordered most of the menu, most of it I'd order again. Surprisingly (other than what's listed) the "chef's special menu" was the least exciting part. By no means were the items that bad, just not the best of what we ordered.

    My favorites, in no particular order:

    Shumai, by far the best I've had, including that which I've had in Hong Kong. an order came with 4 fairly large pieces. Definitely Get This!

    Xioa Long Bao - as good as stevez reported it to be.

    Chive dumplings - Very good, very chivey.

    The Chicken Feet! - Definitely worth getting. Even a couple of the squeamish diners had a taste, and concluded they were almost worth eating. This is a process oriented food, and it takes some getting used to, but totally worth trying. The sauce and peanuts alone made the dish worth ordering.

    Pork Bung Gut - Not nearly as gross as the name may imply. If you've had intestine, you may know it can be very hit or miss, when it misses it's repulsive, but when it's spot on, it's some of my favorite food. This was definitely near the top of my list of the meal. It was tender, but not mushy or chewy. It was a bit funky (like funky tripe) but not too much so.

    Tripe - Was the smaller delicate type of tripe, again the sauce was spectacular.

    Durian Pastry - I'm not a desert guy, but this one was pretty good. Not too sweet, and not too intensely Durian flavored, but had a durian sauce for dipping if you want to up the level of stink. Nice flaky pastry, served fresh and warm. Nothing to complain about.

    Oolong Tea - You get about 4 or 5 options for your complimentary tea pot. The Oolong tea was great! I think it my have been an aged or blended variant since It reminded me of another of my favorites, Puer tea. It's the small things, like the selection from 4 decent teas that sets this place apart from the other Dim Sum options, that don't seem to give that extra effort.

    Chef Tony Hu visited the table to make sure everything was ok. He told us to be sure to tell him if we didn't enjoy anything. We had no complaints. He told us about how he had long dreamed of opening a Dim Sum restaurant, but he would not sacrifice quality. He had been searching for years all over china for the best Dim Sum chef to import to Chicago. Finally after a long exhaustive search he found the best, a former head chef of from one of the most famous Dim Sum places in... China (ok I forgot what city, but that really isn't the important part).

    Very excited to have this place in Chicago. I finally have some Dim Sum to be excited about.
    Last edited by laikom on November 4th, 2012, 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #16 - November 4th, 2012, 1:04 pm
    Post #16 - November 4th, 2012, 1:04 pm Post #16 - November 4th, 2012, 1:04 pm
    laikom wrote:Tripe - Was the smaller delicate type of tripe, again the sauce was spectacular.


    I guess I'm just not a tripe guy because "delicate" is the last word I would have used to describe this dish. After chewing a large piece for over a minute and having no sucess in breaking apart I was left with the options of casually removing it from my mouth or swallowing it whole. I decided to be a good sport and chose the latter :mrgreen:

    I have to say I didn't care for the BBQ pork buns (I think that's what they were), WAY too sweet for me.

    Everything else was great though. The meatballs were spot on, the shumai were teriffic, the chive dumplings were a standout, and the chicken feet were suprisingly good with just a little bit of heat to them.

    A great way to kill a Saturday afternoon.
  • Post #17 - November 4th, 2012, 1:20 pm
    Post #17 - November 4th, 2012, 1:20 pm Post #17 - November 4th, 2012, 1:20 pm
    Tony told us the chef was from his home town. Not cetain but I thought that was Chengdu.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #18 - November 4th, 2012, 1:23 pm
    Post #18 - November 4th, 2012, 1:23 pm Post #18 - November 4th, 2012, 1:23 pm
    I skipped the pork bun. I guess I'm glad I did.
    Last edited by laikom on November 4th, 2012, 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #19 - November 4th, 2012, 1:46 pm
    Post #19 - November 4th, 2012, 1:46 pm Post #19 - November 4th, 2012, 1:46 pm
    laikom wrote:I skipped the pork bun. I guess I'm glad I did.


    To me, the pork buns were one of the most pleasant surprises. Not only were the buns themselves light as a feather, as opposed to the dense bready versions that you usually see, but the addition of some hard boiled egg to the pork (belly, IIRC) was a nice touch that cut the sweetness at least a little.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #20 - November 4th, 2012, 2:06 pm
    Post #20 - November 4th, 2012, 2:06 pm Post #20 - November 4th, 2012, 2:06 pm
    you guys are tearing me apart!
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #21 - November 4th, 2012, 2:14 pm
    Post #21 - November 4th, 2012, 2:14 pm Post #21 - November 4th, 2012, 2:14 pm
    laikom wrote:you guys are tearing me apart!


    Clearly a return visit is in order!
  • Post #22 - November 4th, 2012, 3:49 pm
    Post #22 - November 4th, 2012, 3:49 pm Post #22 - November 4th, 2012, 3:49 pm
    We enjoyed the dim sum at Lao You Ju today, but I really miss Happy Chef and Shui Wah. I agree the Shui Mai and chive dumplings are fantastic. Shrimp dumplings and some other kind of liquidy dumplings (I think they were a house special but can't remember) were also tasty, but the rice noodle with mushroom and vegetable was awful. It had my nemesis babycorn in it, which just ruined it, not to mention there was no real discernible mushroom in it. We had 3 egg roll/spring roll loving kids with us so we ordered the ones off of the regular menu, which were veggie that were decent. We also ordered the ones on the dim sum menu which made us nervous b/c they were shrimp and cheese. Luckily there was barely any cheese and lots of shrimp so the kids loved them.
    We had tried Ming Hin a few weeks ago and enjoyed the dim sum there as well, and found that they seemed to have more of a dim sum selection.
    LO
  • Post #23 - November 4th, 2012, 6:48 pm
    Post #23 - November 4th, 2012, 6:48 pm Post #23 - November 4th, 2012, 6:48 pm
    My opinion is certainly biased by me not feeling well during the meal (and even leaving early), but I feel like I have to add a dissenting voice. The shumai, chive dumplings, and beef balls were really fantastic, but a number of the other dishes totally fell flat for me. Rice crepe rolls were a gummy mess. The XLB tasted ok, but had chewy skins which tore immediately when removing them from the cupcake tin and had very little soup. I too enjoyed the texture of the bao, but found the pork filling of the pork bun too sweet. The meal was fine, but nothing that changed my opinion of Chicago's dim sum options. I do want to try Ming Hin, as I've still never been there.

    Beyond the food, I found the service to be sub-par. I had to ask multiple times for chili oil and soy sauce, tea was scarce (then we ended up with like 5 pots at once), empty steamers took forever to be removed from our table, etc. I'm normally not too picky with service, but this stood out as incredibly poor.

    -Dan
  • Post #24 - November 4th, 2012, 6:55 pm
    Post #24 - November 4th, 2012, 6:55 pm Post #24 - November 4th, 2012, 6:55 pm
    I'm with you on the pork buns. If I had to guess what was in it blindfolded I would have said sweet red bean paste.
    (ETA) - I agree with stevez though, the bun part itself is fantastic.
    Maybe I'm also an outlier but the one xlb I had was devoid of any liquid.
    I really think I need to give it another try soon and see if my initial perceptions were off.
  • Post #25 - November 4th, 2012, 7:01 pm
    Post #25 - November 4th, 2012, 7:01 pm Post #25 - November 4th, 2012, 7:01 pm
    The service issue is part of the reason that I said I would try to stick to weekday visits from now on. They are obviously in the weeds on the weekend. I want to make a return visit for a weekday lunch to see what that's like. Judging by some of the comments about the food that sound so different than what I experienced, there seem to be some consistency issues. Hopefully those will get worked out over time (they've only been serving for a couple of weeks) or be less of an issue during the week. The chef obviously has some chops!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #26 - November 4th, 2012, 7:33 pm
    Post #26 - November 4th, 2012, 7:33 pm Post #26 - November 4th, 2012, 7:33 pm
    I'll do another visit any weekday this week if anyone else is interested - in the name of reasearch of course.
    If not I may just stop in myself.
  • Post #27 - November 4th, 2012, 7:54 pm
    Post #27 - November 4th, 2012, 7:54 pm Post #27 - November 4th, 2012, 7:54 pm
    The service was pretty slow and disorganized. We were a party of 12, multiple of us were asking multiple servers for help and when that finally came through the result was chaos (too much tea)

    On the hypothetical scale that I place the service of every Dim Sum place I've visited, it fell exactly in line with expectations. Service has always been terrible at Dim Sum during peak hours, no matter the location. At least this time I didn't have to ask 5 times for tripe to be told I wouldn't like it.

    The meal wasn't flawless, yeah a few things fell short. I agree with dan on the crepes. I avoided the sweet options. But the thing that were great were far greater than I've had at Shui Wah, pheonix or cai, and for that I'll be back. Hopefully they work out the kinks in the service.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #28 - November 4th, 2012, 8:51 pm
    Post #28 - November 4th, 2012, 8:51 pm Post #28 - November 4th, 2012, 8:51 pm
    zoid wrote:I have to say I didn't care for the BBQ pork buns (I think that's what they were), WAY too sweet for me.
    dansch wrote:Beyond the food, I found the service to be sub-par. I had to ask multiple times for chili oil and soy sauce, tea was scarce (then we ended up with like 5 pots at once), empty steamers took forever to be removed from our table, etc. I'm normally not too picky with service, but this stood out as incredibly poor.
    agreed on both statements above.
    laikom wrote:Shumai, by far the best I've had, including that which I've had in Hong Kong. an order came with 4 fairly large pieces. Definitely Get This!
    best shumai I've had as well, including Hong Kong. Thanks for planning !

    Happy to go on a weekday for lunch in the name of furthering research.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #29 - November 6th, 2012, 10:35 am
    Post #29 - November 6th, 2012, 10:35 am Post #29 - November 6th, 2012, 10:35 am
    laikom wrote: Service has always been terrible at Dim Sum during peak hours, no matter the location

    Generally the service at every Chinese restaurant I've ever eaten at (including the ones in China) is bad, which is why when a place has halfway decent service I am impressed, like I was at Lao Szechuan uptown and some of Tony's other restaurants. Still haven't made my way to this place, soon. Glad to hear that I am not alone in my feelings for the quality dim sum at Cai and the new Ming Hin though.
  • Post #30 - November 6th, 2012, 11:51 am
    Post #30 - November 6th, 2012, 11:51 am Post #30 - November 6th, 2012, 11:51 am
    In my opinion: some hits and some misses.

    I will say, that the restaurant was slammed and service was spotty. I'm reminded of why I don't go to dim sum at peak hours - especially not with a big group. This is no fault of the organizers (I knew what I was getting myself into), but this definitely impacted my impression of the place.

    I did like the shu mai and the beef balls. While I'm not a big fan of chicken feet, these were pretty good (still not likely to order them myself, though), I liked one of the tripes.

    I thought all of the starchier dishes to be no better than average. The shrimp crepes (one of my favorite dim sums) had a texture problem, as noted elsewhere. The turnip cake was bland in addition to being not crispy and only lukewarm. I thought the xiao long bao to be pretty mediocre. Not a lot of flavor and a poorly conceived dish to be served in muffin tins where they will stick. I didn't care for BBQ pork buns. I thought the filling was skimpy, but that could be partly because we were sharing buns which is not easy to do. I missed out on those chive dumplings and when we tried to order them at the end of the meal, we got potstickers instead which were oily and unpalatable at that point of fullness (I stopped eating it).

    It's only one visit, but I'm in no hurry to return. I would have taken Shui Wah over LYJ based on this meal. I frankly would rather return to Phoenix for cart service as they do the dough-based dim sums a lot better and it is a more tranquil service experience (while still not perfect).

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