Thursday, May 8, 2014

Road Trip- Phoenix Restaurant- Chicago

I am a fan of dim sum—and you can get some good dim sum in Indy, but it is a little sparser than it used to be. And I am not sure if any places do the carts anymore (traditionally they push little carts around with various dishes and you choose what is appealing to you). And even at this place, apparently the carts are saved for the very busy times, which is breakfast at the Phoenix.

I have been wanting to try Phoenix for awhile now though, and since hubby and I were arriving fairly early to Chicago, we decided to just start our little mini-vacation there for lunch. At this point, they were just giving you the large colorful menu of dim sum to choose from. It was nice to have all the pictures because it made communication easier in a place where most of the servers didn’t speak a lot of English.

We got our classic favorites—the shrimp dumplings (ha gao), the spring rolls, and the pan-fried chive and shrimp dumplings. We also had an order of pepper and salt fried baby octopus and the pan-fried crepe.

My favorite singular item was the chive dumplings. They were just the perfect mix of big pieces of shrimp, a fair amount of chives and scallions, but not so much that it was the dominant taste. The dumping was pan-fried just the right amount to give a slightly crispy edge to it. Ok, we liked these so much that we had a second order.

The regular shrimp dumplings were also good—as long as the shrimp is good, I don’t find a ton of variation among these—and the shrimp was big pieces and tasted fresh. They were super hot out of the steamer basket. I do find a fair amount of variation among spring rolls, but these were very good. They actually had a fair amount of minced pork in them and less of the cabbage and veggie-type fillings. So a little less healthy, but mighty tasty. And the skin was super crispy, pretty much shattering when you bit into it. I would want these again (as well as the shrimp rolls wrapped in the same crisp wrapper).

The pan-fried crepe wasn’t exactly what I was sort of hoping for—I have had one in the Bay Area that was similar but had shrimp in it. I have never been able to find one like it anywhere else. There are regular crepes stuffed with different meats and seafood, but the only one that had the lightly crisp edge from the pan-frying was this one, which wasn’t stuffed with anything, so it was sort of bland. Like eating a thick dumpling with nothing in it.

The salt and pepper octopus was a pass—the crust was really good and flavorful (and so hot it burned your mouth), but the octopus was super rubbery. I am pretty sure a lot of people don’t think they like octopus or squid because of the tendency to get it like this (rubbery), which is a shame, because both things can be so good when they are tender.

Overall, we definitely enjoyed this place. It’s hard for me to repeat places very often in Chicago because I like trying new places every time, but I would certainly throw it in there for a dim sum craving (although there appears to be several other options as well in Chicago’s Chinatown).

What’s your favorite Indy dim sum?

Phoenix Restaurant
2131 S. Archer Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616

Phoenix on Urbanspoon

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