From Hong Kong to London, San Francisco to Flushing, Queens, the world’s great dim sum cities are losing their trollies. Mournful dispatches note how rolling carts laden with steaming baskets of dumplings, trays of baked pastries, and vats of congee have largely been replaced by paper check sheets. While this is a sad development for dim sum culture (one also felt in Chicago’s Chinatown), there may be a silver lining: Smaller, nimbler restaurants that serve a limited selection of dim sum have begun to pop up in unlikely locations, including the heart of Lincoln Park.
At D Cuisine, first-time restaurateur Danny Fang offers about two dozen types of “artisanal dim sum” ($3.65 to $6.95), which means they’re handmade — never out of a freezer bag. That’s a risk, and sometimes you get overly large and doughy har gow with the shrimp filling flopping out or a perplexing taro cake so dry you need to gulp tea. But other times, it pays off spectacularly: Turnip cakes feature all the crisp, wobbly, and creamy textures you could want, springy siu mai really taste of pork and shrimp, and stuffed bean curd skins come with lacy jackets that shatter against their steamy insides. Best in show: the sweet egg yolk buns, which are like warm little cream puffs. Fang smartly nabbed the recipe from MingHin Cuisine, where he worked previously as a server.
Round out your turnip cakes and siu mai with some contemporary Cantonese plates. Two to try: shrimp and clams basking in a creamy yellow curry ($15.95) and a tangy salad of wood ear mushrooms and okra ($6.50). Trolley or no trolley, the future of dim sum tastes awfully good.
Editor’s note: During shelter-in-place, D-Cuisine recommends calling the restaurant to order at 773-360-7239; you can also find them on most delivery apps.