Egg custards, sesame balls, and deep fried spring rolls with taro and chicken at dim sum at Cai in Chinatown in Chicago for my birthday.

Life List #268: Eat dim sum in Chinatown.

Last fall I went to Duck Duck Goat for dim sum with my sister and her friends.

Duck Duck Goat, if you don’t know, is Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard’s Asian-inspired restaurant in Chicago. It was also the one restaurant on my list of 12 restaurants to go to in 2019 that I actually went to…

(Also, fun fact, Stephanie Izard follows 694 people on Twitter and for some reason I am one of them.)

Stephanie Izard follows me on Twitter.

We ate well at Duck Duck Goat, with a lazy susan filled with pig face pot stickers, goat & duck spring rolls, veggie fried rice, and scallion pancakes. And it was good. Really good. So good that I want to go back and order two of everything on the menu. But, it still didn’t satisfy my itch to get “traditional” dim sum, “authentic” dim sum.

And that was also on my list.

My birthday this year fell on a Sunday and I wasn’t really in the mood to go out drinking or do anything big. So I decided, instead, that I would try to cross another item off my life list, and visit another one of those twelve restaurants.

I didn’t really have a specific restaurant in mind, I just wanted to eat dim sum in Chinatown. And there is no lack of places to eat dim sum in Chinatown.

We decided on Cai after going back and forth between several because it got good reviews and my friend knew someone who lived in Chinatown and recommended it. So we trudged out on a Sunday morning in zero degree weather to eat a table full of dumplings.

We had steamed wonton with spicy sauce, sesame balls, deep fried spring rolls with taro and chicken, BBQ pork rice noodles, Siu mai, Xiao long bao, BBQ pork bao, and egg custards. Slippery noodles and squishy buns and soup dumplings that were just a little too big to stuff in my mouth.

And it was all delicious.

On our way home my friend asked me which one I would return to: the modern-concept Duck Duck Duck Goat or the traditional Chinatown fare. And, really, me answer is both, either. Both dim sums offered a different experience, different food, different flavors. Different dumplings.

And my answer to any dumpling is, always, “yes, please.”

Eat dim sum in Chinatown was #268 on my Life List.




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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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