Dim Sum- the essential breakfast of asian champions. For those who don’t know what dim sum is there is no real way to describe unless you give it a try.
I have heard many times that its just a collection of dumplings. That couldn’t be more far from the truth. I like to explain to westerners and 2nd generations that it is the Asian version of tapas! The problems is now you gotta know what tapas are.
So the best way to explain dim sum to culinary virgins of this kind is that dim sum is a vast collection of mini appetizers. There is no standard format of the type, but dumplings seem to be a common variety of the cuisine. Every restaurant will have the standard dishes of dim sum, but the choices will vary in all restaurants. The great thing is there are always new dishes coming out from local chefs and Hong Kong imports of ideas. So to really enjoy and understand dim sum is to go out and try it all. You will eventually find your favorite joint, and here are a few of my top choices for dim sum in Chicago.
Mountain View Chef (Chinatown Square) 2168 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616
This is by far my most favorite dim sum spot. You can tell the quality of a Chinatown restaurant by the number of non-English speaking patrons. This place is jammed packed during peak brunch hours and may require some line waiting. This is a order as you go place and not a cart system. This can be problem to some who are faithful to the “dim sum is best only from a cart” school of thinking. But I find that ordering your dim sum comes out the freshest and that in my opinion is worth the wait. Not to mention the low prices and high variety of dishes. Mountain View is definitely a place to consider for your dim sum.
Shui Wah (Chinatown Square)
2162 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616 (312) 225-8811
Another located in Chinatown square. Shui Wah is definitely a place to go if you crave authentic Hong Kong cuisine and dim sum. The chef is known to cook some of the most authentic tasting Hong Kong dishes and places that skill towards his dim sum. This is another order as go kind of system with a more of a conservative feel in the restaurant. With a little more on the pricing this places offers the freshest and authentic tasting dim sum in town.
Phoenix Restaurant(Chinatown Square) 2131 S. Archer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616 (312) 328-0848
Phoenix is probably the most well known dim sum haven in town. With the great view and more upscale decor you will find more of your western and 2nd generation dim sum enthusiasts as this great place. Some of the food can come either in cart or order as go, and also claim a large of variety of dishes you may not find anywhere else. For most people who do not have that one translator friend but wanted to explore this cuisine type. Phoenix is your best choice.