Food finds in Chi-town Chinatown?
I've never been to the Chinatown in Chicago, but am hoping to get there over Thanksgiving. Any great soup-dumplings to be had? Or any dim sum recommends? (I like the mid-range places - clean, busy, and inexpensive).
Alternatively, I'd love to find a great ramen spot.
Re: xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and dim sum
If you are accustomed to good soup dumplings and dim sum I'm afraid that you will have to settle for fair to middling renditions of both in Chicago. That said, Mandarin Kitchen, Ed's Potsticker House, House of Fortune and Moon Palace are frequently referenced for xiao long bao (soup dumplings). And, Phoenix (cart service), Happy Chef and Shiu Wah are frequently referenced for dim sum.
If I had to recommend something, I'd say Ed's Potsticker for dumplings (you can salvage the mediocre dumpling experience by ordering some of the other menu items that Ed's actually does well), and Happy Chef for dim sum (no carts, but it's dirt cheap, you can order whatever you want, and it'll arrive hot&fresh).
2143 S. Archer
Ed's Potsticker House
3139 S. Halsted
House of Fortune
2407 S. Wentworth
216 W. Cermak
2131 S. Archer
2162 S. Archer
2164 S. Archer
P.S. I've nearly given up on ramen in Chicago too. However, if I happen to be at Mitsuwa Market in Arlington Heights, I'll often order the spicy miso ramen with kurobota pork at the ramen-ya in the food court...
My two favorites for dim sum are Shui Wah and Happy Chef, both of which I find to be consistently solid. Although I enjoy cart service, I have been disappointed far too many times with Phoenix (which in my opinion is the best cart dim sum in Chicago). My usual complaint with Phoenix is that its carts have far too many offerings that should have been retired to the kitchen well before they were offered to customers.
Recommendations for Ed's Potsticker House:
Scallion pancakes with smoked pork
Lamb with cumin
Fish fragrant eggplant
Smoked grass carp
Jelly starch noodle (cold appetizer)
The list goes on and on. Anyway, look for Brenda the owner. She'll be able to direct you.
Re: cart service dim sum
Like I said above, Phoenix is the place for cart service dim sum.
While I've also mostly given up on finding decent ramen in Chicago, I did recently have an ok miso ramen at Takashi Yagihashi's place in the Macy's on State Street food court. There was way too much stuff in the miso ramen and it wasn't what one could remotely call a classic miso ramen, but the broth was ok and it is worth a try. I also recently tried the ramen at CoCoRa in the River North area and was dissapointed. The Mitsuwa noodle shop has as close to a traditional miso ramen I've seen in the area. In NYC there seem to be a lot of ramen shops - not sure why that trend hasn't made it to Chicago.
I'd give a thumbs up to Shui Wah for not only dim sum but also for dinner. There are actually different owners (and I assume kitchen staff) for the dim sum and dinner.
For bonus points - Katy's Dumpling WAY OUT in the suburbs has tremendous chinese beef noodle soup (not ramen) and other wonderful items on the menu. Hand formed noodles.
the food is great at Joy Yee's....that is the only place i ever go in Chinatown....very large portions....i usually go with a group and we go crazy ordering...and share everything....almost mini buffet style...the baked teriyaki beef and rice and the szechuan green beans are two of my favorites....the appetizers are great too....
honeydew melon mini pearl freeze to drink.....i prefer the mini pearl to the big tapioca bubbles....too chewy....
So I ended up at Happy Family, and was pleased with it. We had steamed pork dumplings, turnip cake, sticky rice in lotus leaf, steamed rice rolls with shrimp, pork buns, and ordered a lunch special ($4.38!) of combo pan fried noodles. All of the food was good, except for the sticky rice, usually a favorite of mine - barely any flavor. The service was pretty terrible...incredibly slow,stuff came out one or two dishes at a time, then we would wait forever for the next - I thnk the ordering system there really isn't the best. Unfortuntaely, our har kow took too long to come, so I passed on it.
As an ex-New Yorker with a penchant for dim sum and a long history with Chinatown - including Bo-Bo's in the 1960's...I've not found a true excellent experience in Chicago, but have enjoyed Happy Chef. (I presume Jel212 meant Happy Chef and not Family.)
When we need our dim sum fix, with my family, we go to HC, and my teen age son has actually trained in with friends from the burbs and has taken them to their first Dim Sum experience there. With out of town guests and family, we go to Phoenix for the carts, which adds to the experience.
Also, there is mention above of Katy's Dumplings "Way Out". How way out is Katy's - or more directly, in what suburb?