Whether it’s typical of most Asian families or just mine in particular, our family vacations always included stopping in Chinatown in every city we visited. Now that I think of it, we actually didn’t vacation in a city unless there was a Chinatown there. From Toronto to NYC to Boston to Chicago, most of the Asian shops always looked identical; selling the same familiar Oriental trinkets and knickknacks. But one thing that never got old for me during our Chinatown excursions: the dim sum.
Dim sum are small dumplings, usually steamed or fried and filled with meat, seafood, vegetables or other condiments like red bean paste. The dishes can also range from pastry-type items to barbequed meats and stuffed buns. According to Wikipedia, dim sum means “a bit of heart.” A range of light traditional Cantonese dishes, dim sum is typically served for breakfast or brunch. These bite-size eats are similar to tapas-style dishes. The dumplings are usually served on small plates or in bamboo steamer baskets (sometimes served in stainless steel steamers as well), and accompanied with soy sauce and spicy chili oil.
Ordering dim sum
Unless you’re proficient in Chinese, ordering dim sum can sometimes be a challenge. When you’re dining at the restaurant, you don’t order from a menu. Instead, you select the dishes from a server who pushes a tiny cart around the restaurant. Depending on how much English the server speaks, you’ll usually get a one word description of what’s inside the steamers. Before you know it, your table is full with eight or 10 different baskets filled with an eclectic array of steamed and fried dumplings. If you’re an adventurous eater, chicken feet might end up on your table as well (I usually pass on this delicacy).
I can eat dim sum around the clock, seven days a week. The dishes are never too heavy and there are so many different types to choose from — there’s even vegetarian-friendly selections. So you can imagine my excitement when Furama Restaurant in Chicago was added to GrubHub.com. While dim sum is traditionally served mostly in the morning and early afternoon, you can order Furama’s dim sum dishes all day long and have it delivered to you. The delivery and carryout menu is slightly smaller than their weekend dine-in dim sum brunch, but it’s still a hearty selection to choose from. Below are few of my favorite dim sum dishes that you can’t go wrong with:
Pan Fried Pork Potsticker: steamed dumpling made with ground pork, chopped Napa cabbage and green onions. After the dumpling has been steamed, it is then lightly pan fried on one side.
Har Gow (shrimp dumpling): steamed dumpling made with minced shrimp, finely chopped bamboo shoots and chopped green onions. The filling is wrapped in translucent dough made with a tapioca and wheat starch. The dough is very sticky.
Siu Mai (steamed pork dumpling): steamed dumpling made with ground pork and minced shrimp, shitake mushrooms, scallions and bamboo. The filling is wrapped in a wonton skin.
Stuffed Eggplant Dim Sum: basically siu mai stuffed in eggplant instead of wonton skin.
Pan Fried Shrimp and Chives Cake: steamed dumpling made with minced shrimp, garlic chives and ground ginger. The filling is wrapped in wonton skin and lightly pan fried.
BBQ Pork Buns: diced pork loin marinated in sweet Chinese barbeque sauce. The pork filling is scooped into the center of the white dough, wrapped and then steamed.
Fried Calamari: deep fried squid seasoned with salt, pepper and jalapenos
Mochi Rice with Meat Wrap: sticky mochi rice filled with pork, Chinese sausage and salty egg yolk. The rice mix is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
Furama Restaurant, 4936 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL