Former Sunda chef Rodelio Aglibot is opening a dim sum restaurant in Lakeshore East in March.
The so-called "Food Buddha" said he's always looking for spaces for new restaurant concepts and decided to open Yum Cha at 333 E. Randolph St. (formerly French restaurant Maison) because he saw a void for Chinese food in the neighborhood. "Dim sum is hot right now," he said. "The idea of eating small plates is something Chicago has embraced."
Aglibot and his partners have traveled to Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco and Toronto in search of inspiration. Along with traditional Cantonese dishes such as shrimp in lobster sauce and egg custard pastries, the menu of 50 to 60 types of dim sum will include some modern interpretations such as crispy pumpkin fries with salted duck egg, coconut-stuffed fried taro balls, egg custard topped with foie gras and deep-fried hot chocolate, a dish made by combining evaporated milk, chocolate and agar-agar and then cutting the gelatinous blend into cubes and deep frying them. "It's like these bite-sized nuggets of chocolate milk," Aglibot said.
For lunch, you can order from the menu or grab dim sum as it's rolled by on carts. Come dinner, those carts will be used to present Peking duck. Yum Cha will also have a full bar with craft beers, cocktails and a variety of teas. Since Yum Cha will deliver, Aglibot said he expects the restaurant to appeal to downtown residents looking for Chinese takeout.
Dim sum typically involves a lot of pork, but Aglibot said he plans to incorporate more chicken, seafood and vegetarian options. He also will be making use of ingredients you're used to seeing on Chinatown menus like pork stomach, beef tripe and chicken feet. "I think Chicagoans are much more excited about trying these things," he said. "They've become more adventurous. They're trusting the chefs. It used to be 'You eat that?' Now it's 'You have to try that.' It's an amazing time to be a chef in Chicago."
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