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Chicago Dim Sum

rozz01 May 12, 2009 02:00 PM

Hi...
I will be visiting Chicago in about month. I wanted to take my host out for dim sum as a thank you, but I keep reading differing opinions on The Phoenix, Shui Wah and Three Happiness. I only eat seafood for meat, but my friend will eat anything. Anyone have any ideas on where might be the best spot? thanks

  1. i
    Iowaboy3 Oct 20, 2011 09:26 AM

    Question along the same thread... Driving past Chi next Thursday and wanted to shoot into Chinatown for a dim sum meal. Will be arriving early/mid-afternoon on Thursday. Where would be the best/freshest place to go?

    9 Replies
    1. re: Iowaboy3
      nsxtasy Oct 20, 2011 11:51 AM

      I'm not an expert on dim sum, but I suspect that dim sum is only available at a time when many people are dining, which would rule out the middle of the afternoon. That's just a guess on my part, but it would seem to make sense.

      1. re: Iowaboy3
        m
        masha Oct 20, 2011 12:01 PM

        Phoenix, according to its website, serves dim sum daily until 3pm. http://www.chinatownphoenix.com/
        Not sure how fresh the food will be, however, if you arrive their towards the tail end of that service, as I've only been closer to the noon hour.

        1. re: Iowaboy3
          rozz01 Oct 20, 2011 03:53 PM

          I've been to Furama around happy hour, but that might be too late I guess...

          -----
          Furama Restaurant
          4936 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640

          1. re: Iowaboy3
            d
            delk Oct 20, 2011 06:12 PM

            I have been to Phoenix over my lunch break from work, and it was the same as when I go on Saturday mornings (Sunday is too crowded for me!). Since you are driving, there is a huge Chinatown parking lot. Most places validate. Just 2 dollars to park.

            1. re: delk
              nsxtasy Oct 20, 2011 06:26 PM

              >> I have been to Phoenix over my lunch break from work, and it was the same as when I go on Saturday mornings

              Have you been there in the middle of the afternoon (say 3-4 pm), or only at lunchtime?

              1. re: nsxtasy
                d
                delk Oct 21, 2011 05:40 AM

                The latest around 1:30. I do know, that when we go early on Saturday, we get there before the carts start. They have a picture menu and you check what you want. We typically check 4-5 favs and while we are eating the carts start arriving.

                I'm sure, if they offer dim sum until 3 pm, you can request a picture menu and order that way and get food fresh from the kitchen.

            2. re: Iowaboy3
              i
              Iowaboy3 Oct 20, 2011 09:30 PM

              I should be able to get there between 1 & 2 PM. Where best to go for lunch on a Thursday?

              1. re: Iowaboy3
                i
                ianblecher Oct 21, 2011 07:04 PM

                The best place I've been to in Chinatown is definitely Shui Wah. The Dim Sum is fresh and hot and delicious. The potstickers were just outstanding.

                Personally, I didn't care for Phoenix. I found the food bland and soggy. You could do worse, but why not get the best? (Plus, Shui Wah's cheaper, and open longer.)

                1. re: Iowaboy3
                  c
                  citywayne Oct 21, 2011 10:53 PM

                  Here is my orignal reply again:
                  Phoenix has the nicest ambiance (table clothes, ...etc.). 3 Happiness dim sum is "old school" dim sum and still very tastey. Shui Wah is smaller and kinda of in between the two in ambiance and taste. No carts at Shui Wah either. Another alternative is Happy Chef, right next door to Shui Wah. We usually go to 3 Happiness (the kids like it better ... it's what they grew up on)

                  Things change quickly, especially in Chinatown. We have 're-stumbled' onto Furama, on the south end of Chinatown, Wentworth around 28th st. The dim sum chefs there have been doing a very good job lately. They also have a 'sale' going on during the weekdays. They have cart service, so it's a nice show too. We've been going here lately. I think they serve dim sum until around 3pm. We still go to 3 Happiness when the kids come into town.

                2. c
                  citywayne May 12, 2009 08:39 PM

                  Phoenix has the nicest ambiance (table clothes, ...etc.). 3 Happiness dim sum is "old school" dim sum and still very tastey. Shui Wah is smaller and kinda of in between the two in ambiance and taste. No carts at Shui Wah either. Another alternative is Happy Chef, right next door to Shui Wah. We usually go to 3 Happiness (the kids like it better ... it's what they grew up on)

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: citywayne
                    rozz01 May 13, 2009 02:47 PM

                    I think it would be safer without the carts. That way i'm sure to avoid beef or pork and it'll still be warm. Are Three Happiness and Happy Chef cards or carts? thanks

                    1. re: rozz01
                      j
                      jesteinf May 13, 2009 02:55 PM

                      Three Happiness (at least the "little" one across the street from the "big" restaurant of the same name). For strictly dim sum items, I think Shui Wah is better than Three Happiness (even though I really like Three Happiness for other things).

                      1. re: rozz01
                        c
                        citywayne May 14, 2009 02:02 PM

                        three happiness (the big one upstairs) is what I was referring to and has carts. shui wah does not have carts, cards only. ... and yes, it does come out HOT ... sometimes too hot. My experience is that you need to let the har gow sit for a few minutes, otherwise the skin is too soft and gooey. ... not a real big problem unless you are an inpatient person. happy chef is cards too and they bring some plates around during the busy brunch time on the weekends.

                        1. re: citywayne
                          rozz01 May 14, 2009 03:00 PM

                          My only experiences were in San Francisco, luke warm was more common than not there...

                          1. re: rozz01
                            l
                            linfr21 Mar 6, 2011 12:23 PM

                            Hello Chicago Hounders,

                            I know this is an old thread, but I am bumping this up to the top. I am going to chicago this upcoming weekend, and wanted to go to dim sum with my friends (party of most likely 4 or 5) on either sat or sunday. There is no good dim sum in Minneapolis where I live, and I truly miss the plethora of great places in Boston, where I lived for 4 years prior to Minneapolis.

                            Looks like Three Happiness and Phoenix are the recommended places, but that was according to diners in 2009. Anything change drastically that would make you recommend one place (or another place) over the other? Also, I wont have a car so a place that is accessible by public trans and walkable (up to half a mile) would be superb.

                            Thanks in advance chowhounders!

                            -----
                            Three Happiness Restaurant
                            209 W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL 60616

                            1. re: linfr21
                              nsxtasy Mar 6, 2011 12:57 PM

                              >> Anything change drastically that would make you recommend one place (or another place) over the other?

                              Not that I'm aware of, although I haven't been to either one in a while. Both have been around for many years, so I wouldn't expect any drastic changes.

                              >> I wont have a car so a place that is accessible by public trans and walkable (up to half a mile) would be superb.

                              All of the restaurants in Chinatown, including Three Happiness and Phoenix, are within 2-3 blocks walking from the Cermak-Chinatown stop on the CTA Red Line (which is elevated at that point, but underground through the Loop and River North).

                              1. re: linfr21
                                j
                                jayh Mar 8, 2011 11:30 AM

                                You did not say where you are staying. But if you are on the north side, you do not have to schlep all the way to Chinatown. Furama has a solid dim sum with carts on Broadway near the Argyle red line stop.

                                -----
                                Furama Restaurant
                                4936 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640

                                1. re: jayh
                                  l
                                  linfr21 Mar 8, 2011 06:11 PM

                                  Well, my friends and I thought it'd be nice to walk around chinatown (weather permitting) just to see that side, but we are actually at the double tree mag mile. I do not mind walking for a mile or more, and def. don't mind being on pub trans for 20 min or so. And weather is not a problem, since I'm used to 20 degree weather and snow...

                                  Thanks for the input though! Do you recommend getting reservations? Do they take reservations for a sat or sun morning?

                                  1. re: linfr21
                                    j
                                    jayh Mar 8, 2011 08:21 PM

                                    Chicago Water Taxi services Chinatown on the weekends. So you can ride down the Chicago River from Michigan Ave. (Wrigley Bldg.) to Chinatown.

                                    http://www.chicagowatertaxi.com/docks...

                                    Check to make sure it is running at this time of year, it looks like it from the website.

                                    1. re: jayh
                                      nsxtasy Mar 9, 2011 05:21 AM

                                      The Water Taxi would definitely be the most pleasant way to go - that's a great recommendation! But if for some reason the boat ride doesn't work for you, you can also get there by catching the CTA Red Line near your hotel at Grand and State, and taking it south to the Cermak-Chinatown stop.

                                  2. re: jayh
                                    rozz01 Mar 9, 2011 09:25 AM

                                    I was shocked at how much my friend and I got for the price at Furama... The tofu was stellar !

                                    -----
                                    Furama Restaurant
                                    4936 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640

                                    1. re: rozz01
                                      c
                                      citywayne Mar 14, 2011 12:50 PM

                                      Up north on Broadway or the one south of Chinatown on Wentworth? Haven't been back to Broadway one for a while,.

                                      1. re: citywayne
                                        rozz01 Mar 14, 2011 08:01 PM

                                        It was the one on Broadway, was gonna go to tank noodle... but the line was half way down the block. I was amazed at what a good value the meal at Furama turned out to be.

                                        -----
                                        Furama Restaurant
                                        4936 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640

                                        1. re: rozz01
                                          c
                                          citywayne Mar 15, 2011 09:00 PM

                                          If you want a real value, you should try the bakery about 1/2 block east on Argyle (south side of the street, a few doors before the L tracks). You can order a pot of tea or cup of coffee and sui mai, har gow, chicken feet, taro cake, shrimp cheung fun and a bunch of other items. Ask for the short menu, it's in English. Some of the bakery goods are real good too. It's lot cheaper than the restaurants, but the ambiance is quite sparse.

                                  3. re: linfr21
                                    d
                                    delk Mar 8, 2011 01:25 PM

                                    We go to Phoenix at least once a month. It's a super easy jaunt for us. As nsxtasy noted, it is fairly easy to get to on the Red Line. I sometimes go to Chinatown on my lunch hour from my loop office. For those of you with a car, the huge public parking lot is great. All restaurants validate so the price to park is $2.00.

                                    Sunday at Phoenix is very crowded with very long waits as the morning moves to the afternoon. We normally go on Saturdays with 9:45 being the sweet spot. At that point it is still the picture menu, so you can get your faves fresh to order. As you eat the cart service starts so you can pick and choose as you like.

                                    Nice view of the skyline!

                                    1. re: linfr21
                                      c
                                      citywayne Mar 8, 2011 08:00 PM

                                      I would say that all that I had posted last year is still true. My kids came into town this last weekend and we went to (the big, upstairs) 3 Happiness and it was as good as usual. Get there before 11:30am and you should beat the crowds on the weekend, unless there is something special going on in Chinatown (like New Years or Double 10). It's a short block from the L station.
                                      Something new recently is Furama. Way down south on Wentworth (almost to 31st St.). Somewhat out of the way and not near the L (unless you count the Sox park stop, which i would NOT recommend, too far from restaurant). You would need a car. As always, you have to sometimes try one of the places that you may not have eaten at recently because the chefs change. Furama has been very good recently. Just an example. so you might try another one of the Chinatown Square places just to see.

                                      Hope this helps. .... Be sure to get the Phoenix claws (chicken feet).

                                      1. re: citywayne
                                        m
                                        mkaufman Mar 14, 2011 04:21 PM

                                        My wife and I are partial to Happy Chef.....not because of the decor, which is quite plain with thin plastic table covers, but because the food is consistently good and it seems to be frequented by primarily Chinese families. Tables frequently become communal as you are seated with other parties which adds to the fun. The dumplings come in a variety of fillings, sizes and textures. The taro-root is among the best in Chinatown.

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