Today, I got to play tour guide to her, da Zigster, and a couple of their good friends (who will have to self-identify in the comments, as I don't "out" non-bloggers (family excepted, and even they have pseudonyms)), destination Chinatown.
Since none of the gang had tried Dim Sum (think Chinese tapas on wheels) before, I hauled them out to Mandarin Kitchen for a new dining adventure. Unlike dinner dining, Dim Sum brunch involves wheeled cart after wheeled cart of small plates. If something looks good, you order as many small plates of it as you think your stomach can hold. The beauty of Dim Sum is that you can try a WIDE variety of different foods without ending up with a thousand "to go" boxes.
So what was on our table? Shrimp encased in steamed rice noodle pasta, fried shrimp (heads on!), broccolini in fish sauce, barbequed pork, duck in oyster sauce, lobster fried in wonton wrappers, curry noodles, more barbequed pork, sweet fritters stuffed with pork and mushrooms, green pepper shrimp, spiced beef steamed in noodle wrapper and small custard tarts, all washed down with cup after miniature cup of green tea. [Egg drop soup, too. Forgot to mention that.]
Replete, we hit the shops. Before my batteries died...
... along with loads of exotic loose teas sold in bulk.
Lots of kitschy Chinatown goodness. (Ask Pammy about her new waving Maneki Neko.) We also hit a couple of tea shops and Pammy gave bubble tea a whirl.
After we walked off a good bit of that brunch, I introduced the gang to the wonders of Chinese bakeries. We picked a typical example -- linoleum floors, white hi-gloss enamel paint on the walls, some tacky paintings, a small shrine complete with Kuan Yin figurine and joss sticks, formica-topped tables, duct-taped chairs and a wonderful, wonderful case full of sweet and savory delights. [And Chinese soap operas. Very funny.]
The rest of the gang opted for cheesecake -- strawberry, banana and mango. I got sweet cakes filled with red bean paste (these taste a quite a bit like Fig Newtons) and green bean paste (slightly sweeter, color similar to Suntanas). Yummy! Before we left, we loaded up on goodies like Char Siu Bao, buns filled with ham and egg, ham and cheese, Chinese sausage and chicken, as well as a ton of other sweet treats. (The buns freeze well, so I'll be eating them for breakfast for the next week or two.) Big boxes of goodies for around ten bucks each. Bargain!
I dropped the gang back at their car with promises that I'll make a trip down south, and they'll visit the Windy City again very soon.
All in all, a very nice visit.
One interesting note -- The weather here got very cold with a good covering of heavy wet snow just about the time the gang rolled into town. We tromped through sloppy glop and gray skies all the way through Chinatown. As I stood on the Red Line platform and watched them pull out onto Cermak to head for home, the sky started clearing and the sun came out. Hmmm....