My problem with dimsum is probably…that I eat WAY TOO much when I go. With Chinese New Year coming up (The official first day of the CNY is this Monday!!!) I got super-duper homesick. So upon waking up this morning, Nick and I decided that it was time to pay Chinatown a visit in this 15 degree Chicago weather.

Happy Chef, Chinatown Chicago

~$40 between 2 adults (with leftovers)

Brunch came WAY too late and I was absolutely starving by the time we were ordering. (Think 1:30 pm and I woke up at…10:30 maybe?) so we just ate and ate and ate till our dishes were clean.

Here’s a short tutorial on the local Cantonese cuisine from someone fresh off the boat. πŸ˜›

Shrimp Dumplings (aka Har Gau)

Shrimp Dumplings (aka Har Gau)

By far my favorite dimsum dish in the entire world of Cantonese dishes. I was impressed by their plump lumps of shrimp inside the dumpling! Usually all you get is lots of dense pork and shreds of shrimp.

What it is: This is a dumpling with transparent, slightly chewy skin that is filled with plump chunks of shrimp (and often minced pork.) Steamed to perfection and eaten best with soy sauce

Fried Spicy Prawns

Fried Spicy Prawns

This was Nick’s favorite dish. I thought it was mediocre. The shrimp was not that fresh and a little overcooked so the meat stuck to the shell. It was also a greasy dish and the oils stained my fingers orange.

What it is: basically giant prawns fried with hot chili peppers and hot oil.

Curried Squid

Curried Squid

What it is: Baby squid marinated and steamed in a mild curry sauce. (This the kind of curry that doesn’t involve any coconut milk.) Both Nick & I loved this dish. Very flavorful and chewy squid πŸ™‚

Chicken Feet in Brown Sauce

Chicken Feet in Brown Sauce

Usually one of my favorite dishes, the ones from Happy Chef were dry and undercooked. The sauce was not as thick and “black beany” as how it is traditionally.

What it is: Literally, the feet from chicken cooked in a brown sauce that is made of mainly Chinese black bean sauce. This is a very popular dimsum dish in Hong Kong and the best ones are flavorful and so well-cooked that it just melts in your mouth (except the bone of course.)

Steamed Shrimp Roll (aka Seen Har Cheung)

Steamed Shrimp Roll (aka Seen Har Cheung)

Dang. This is tasty stuff. Happy chef had large shrimp pieces, but a little too much doughy skin.

What it is: Whole shelled prawns are wrapped in a soft “skin” and steamed. It’s served in soy sauce. This dish also comes filled with BBQ pork or minced beef.

Shrimp and Egg Over Rice

Shrimp and Egg Over Rice

Well seasoned and the shrimps were plump and juicy. Sadly, the eggs weren’t cooked right! (They were shreds of egg in sauce, rather than a bed of scrambled egg cooked only ~75% of the way)

What it is: Shrimp is stir-fried with egg and spring onion. Before the egg gets to fully cook, the chef pours it all over a bed of steamed rice. I LOVE that the egg is still runny but it’s usually done using a lot of oil so none of the egg sticks to the wok (fyi). πŸ˜›

Stir-fried Ong Choy with Garlic

What it is: Veggies stir-fried with garlic! What more do you need? Happy chef got this down. It met expectations.

Unfortunately there was one more important congee dish that I didn’t get to take a picture of because I ATE IT ALL before I remembered to photograph it. Clearly it was awesome!!! 😦 sorry. Nick and I actually ended up eating everything between the two of us. *sigh* Yes, we are two fatties, but it’s Chinese New Year!!!

After lunch, we decided we needed some taro bubble tea as well as some bakery buns. Our favorite bakery was across the street from Happy Chef, so here I leave you a picture of a section of the bread selection.


Buns!!! And part of my boyfriend's buns. πŸ˜›

Meet part of my boyfriend, Nick. He thinks all my photo blogging is “ridiculous”…I’m not sure if that’s good, but at least he doesn’t mind me taking the pictures too much. *sigh*

Overall verdict of the restaurant Happy Chef

Taste: 8. (I’d go back. No chicken feet next time though.)

Plating: 6? 7? (It’s pretty standard)

Originality: 5 (Exactly what you’d expect)

Value: 8 (The bill came out to be $40 all inclusive! Good deal for all that food!)

Ambiance: 6-7 (but what do you expect? It’s dimsum…it’s always loud and kinda messy)

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