Dim Sum pioneer Phoenix revamps in Chinatown

Since it opened in 1996, Phoenix has been one of the dim sum pioneers, packing them in on weekends. But competition forced them to hit the reset button recently.
February 1, 2014 8:30:47 PM PST
The year of the horse is upon us as Chicago's Chinese community prepares to celebrate with a new year's parade tomorrow.

Since it opened in 1996, Phoenix has been one of the dim sum pioneers, packing them in on weekends. But competition forced them to hit the reset button recently.

"Lately, a lot of other restaurants opening and people all like the new, modern trend; new Chinese restaurant like China and Hong Kong, so our partner decide it's time for us to remodel the restaurant and look a little bit warmer," said General Manager Eddie Cheung.

Yes, the d?cor is much-improved, but on the weekends, they're still coming for the dim sum, those little snacks of steamed, fried and baked items.

But the steamers get a workout, in one area; a rice flour batter is transformed, first flecked with dried shrimp and scallions, then, after about a minute, it's removed, cut and rolled-up into thick batons. The same, translucent rice flour crepe envelops shrimp, served with dark soy, or in its most basic form, the multi-pleated har gao. Shumai is another popular item, but consider various pork buns, which have been either steamed or baked in a flaky shell. There are sweets as well, including egg custard tarts, and sweet custard-filled bao. Cheung says with so many regulars, you've got to mix up the hundred or so different options each week, which is why they just added a Hong Kong original: so pei char siu bao; a yeast-raised, barbecued pork-filled bun topped with a thin layer of sweet custard.

"They need new items, more choices. So we are doing right now, whatever the people give us opinion or new item from Hong Kong or China or our own combination, we added on the new weekend menu," said Cheung.

This is obviously going to be a big weekend with Chinese New Year's here, and there are at least four or five different restaurants in the neighborhood that have dim sum service, but if you haven't been to Phoenix in a while, come back and take a look. I think you're going to be impressed.

This weekend will obviously be crazy-busy, but you can also get dim sum during the week.

Phoenix
2131 S. Archer Ave.
312-328-0848
http://chinatownphoenix.com/ !


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