Yum, yum — let’s talk dim sum. While traditionally served for weekend brunch, it’s become so popular that some restaurants offer it daily. Choices are ever changing, and different flavors and textures (sweet, crunchy, squishy, savory) abound. That’s all good news for picky little palettes. Here are our favorite local places to grab dim sum with the kids.
photo: Yum Cha via Lina D. on Yelp
Yum Cha Dim Sum Parlor
One of the only downtown dim sum places outside of Chinatown, this is a swanky, bar/restaurant, so ask to be seated on the restaurant side where kids are most welcome. Yum Cha roughly translates to “going to tea,” so if your kids are willing, encourage them to order a little teapot with their meal. Pull up to a large round table (big groups do well here) for dishes like sweet potato fries with salted egg and explode-in-your-mouth xiao long bao (pork soup dumplings). Kids can choose whatever they desire from carts that roll around like Thomas the Train. You’ll also be exposed to some Filipino influences in the bites, reflecting chef Rodelio Aglibot’s roots. Afterwards drop by Millennium Park, located just across the street.
333 E. Randolph St.
photo: Phoenix via Howard L on Yelp
This Chinatown fave has been going strong for 17 years — maybe it was even on your must list before the kiddos were born! It gets packed, so be prepared to arrive on the early side (they open on 8 a.m. on weekends!) and pack your bag with toys and other distractions. If you come empty handed there are plenty of opportunities to grab little snacks and toys in the surrounding shops, like Giftland and Woks ‘n’ Things. Finally nabbed a seat? Good. Enjoy the aromas swirling from the high-piled bamboo baskets that hold Hong Kong-style dim sum choices like slurpable congee, spongy sesame balls and an assortment of dumplings. The dim sum menu is offered Mon.-Fri. all day and the dim sum carts are offered Sat. & Sun., 8 a.m. through 3 p.m.
2131 S. Archer Ave.
Dim sum is offered both on the weekends and as a “happy hour” from 2:30-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, which may be a good time to explore all the delights Chinatown, take photos under the traditional structures, and snack when it’s less crowded. Regardless of the time you go, get ready to indulge in silky shrimp dumplings, stir-fried sticky rice, and springy lotus seed-paste buns. For large parties there are private spaces complete with roundtables with lazy Susans, and the opportunity to jam out with a little karaoke. Dim sum brunch is offered Sat. & Sun., 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
2168 S. Archer Ave.
photo: courtesy of Koi
Move over pancakes and waffles: Brunch at this Chinese spot in the heart of Evanston is all about trying a variety of little bites. As carts roll around, kids can quell their case of the rumbling-tummies by ordering sticky sweet coconut buns or more savory fried shrimp balls. Of course if your kid is really adventurous, he or she can check out the “Phoenix claws” (chicken feet). This friendly spot also offers the littles a chance to create their very own bubble tea in a variety of delectable fruit flavors, and has a kids’ menu full of games and knowledge about Chinese culture. A limited dim sum menu is offered Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and dim sum brunch is offered Sat. & Sun., 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
624 Davis St.
Jockey Wok N’ Rolls
In the Woodfield Shopping Center area? Don’t miss this spot that serves dim sum daily. Although it’s not your typical cart-to-table experience, they do have a full dim sum menu filled with classics. They also organize dim sum parties if your kids get infatuated with the whole experience. Adventurous ones may try the delicacy — shark fin dumplings — or stick to familiar pot stickers and spring rolls. A traditional dim sum brunch with carts is offered Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
1017 N. Roselle Rd.
second location: Jockey Express
100 E. Algonquin Rd.
Have you taken the kids for dim sum? Let us know in the Comments!
— Samantha Lande