leave your inhibitions at the door
On the Sunday morning before the 3rd day of Lollapalooza, we decided to hit Chinatown for breakfast. I really thought I was still full from my post-Lolla snack of two large burritos and a hot dog. But I guess my stomach was stretched out. So, joined by a band of merry men – my nephew Bugnutz, Shady, and Jagger – we piled in the convertible and drove to Phoenix, arguably the best dim sum place in Chicago.
If you’re unfamiliar with dim sum, think of it as Chinese tapas or small plates. (There’s only one place I know of in Ann Arbor that does it – Great Lakes.) Like tapas, you choose what you want and the servers keep a running tally. Most dishes are only a couple of dollars so, despite finishing with a long list, the bill usually isn’t that bad. Most dim sum places have parades of servers pushing around carts, each with different dishes.
It only takes one or two carts to realize that the only English they speak is the names of the dishes on the carts and half the time those names are in Chinese. You can easily ask the servers, “Do you have the Michael Jackson on a stick?” and they’ll have no clue what you’re saying. We decided to have a little fun with this.
Shady pulled up a list of different varieties of pot on his smartphone and we then proceeded to ask every waitress whether they had it. Not one of them knew what we were asking for and the looks on their faces were priceless. Even better were some of the responses –
Hedonist: Is that the hocus pocus?
Server: No, it’s congee
H: Do you have OG Kush?
S: It’s sweet
H: That’s Durban Poison, right?
S: No, dat Taiwan dumpling
Although I swear that last response was more of “Hell no, it’s none of that DP stuff, gangsta. This is THE Taiwan dumpling. Follow me to the kitchen and we gone smoke yo ass up”. Or maybe I had too much tea.
Let’s see if you do better than the servers. The list below contains all of the different strains of weed we requested, along with actual dim sum items. I gave you a couple of hints already. Give yourself 1 point for every item you believe to be a type of weed:
11-15 points: Can I get your autograph, Willie Nelson?
6-10 points: You’ve seen a couple Cheech and Chong movies
1-5 points: Lucky guesses
0 points: Congrats, you’ve found your new career as dim sum server.
Because of the language barrier, it’s really a crapshoot on what you’re eating. And we’re talking authentic Chinese here. It’s not like ordering potato skins at TGI Friday’s and getting jalapeno poppers. Best advice – just close your eyes and say “Hakuna Matata”. Here’s what we actually ate, all of which intentionally chosen –
Toasted shrimp dumplings
Deep fried seaweed roll (stuffed with crab)
Pan-fried chicken dumplings
Steamed Shrimp dumplings
Siaopao (steamed buns filled with barbecue pork)
Stuffed crab claw