Sunday, June 9, 2013

Three Happiness

Location: 290 W. Cermak Road, Chicago, IL 60616
Three Happiness on Urbanspoon
A Quick Word:
For many of my childhood years, my family frequented Three Happiness for one type of meal... their dim sum.  We would come on weekend mornings and order over a dozen different dumplings and I could remember the taste of each and every one.  However, in recent years, new establishments (Phoenix and Cai) have opened which easily trump this restaurant's dim sum.  And after truly thinking about it, I found many flaws in the Three Happiness cuisine.  First of all, the dumplings all are average... nothing is spectacular, not even their signature dish.  The tea came out extremely strong as if we got a left over pot of tea, and the ice water just tasted dirty.  I saw them pouring water from a pretty disgusting service station.  The service was OK, I can't really complain.  But because of the food and the dirtier building, I could only give them a 3 mile rating... and honestly that was a stretch.

(Left: Picture menu for late night Dim Sum.  Right: Hot Jasmine Tea)

What We Ate:

BBQ Pork Bun

I always enjoy asian baos, especially when filled with BBQ pork.  This rice flour buns are filled with the typical gelatinous BBQ pork and steamed.  The bun was fresh... it was soft, sweet, and held together quite well.  The BBQ pork on the other hand was sparse and more gelatinous than meaty.  These aren't the worst baos, but not close to the best either.

Three Happiness Dumpling

This house speciality dumpling is made with a soy bean wrapper and stuffed with pork and mixed vegetables.  In my opinion, this dumpling taste more of the soy tofu flavor rather than pork.  And that isn't what I wanted.  This dish comes with three longer dumplings.  I suggest trying this dumpling with a little hoisin sauce or chili oil.

Pork Potstickers

The potstickers at Three Happiness are simple dumplings... and only mediocre at best.  Each wonton wrapper was stuffed with a ground pork meatball.  They crisp up the bottom of each dumpling prior to steaming the entire order.  But, unfortunately, the flavors are not as prominent as some of the other dishes we ordered.  The chili oil will help, but not enough to save the dish.

Shrimp Toast

This was my favorite dish of the night.  The shrimp toast is a fried shrimp-rice dumpling that is topped with a crispy wonton wrapper.  They make it look like buttered toast.  The dumplings are extremely crispy.  They don't skimp on the protein either... each bite has huge shrimp flavor.  Add a little sweet and sour sauce and some chili sauce and enjoy.  It comes with three dumplings.

Salt & Pepper Calamari

My friend really wanted to try the calamari.  And I am glad we did.  The salt and pepper calamari is extremely simple.  Just a little salt, pepper, jalapeƱo, and garlic coat the calamari and they are lightly pan fried.  The squid was surprisingly tender and full of flavor.  I would order it again.  This dish is a larger size so it is a little higher priced.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- Weekend mornings are most authentic experience.  Do try to come during peak hours because carts fill the dining hall and as customers, you can just point and eat.
- Do come in a large group.  It is difficult to try a variety of dim sum with only one other person.  Share it all!

- I wouldn't order the food off their actual menu.  The dim sum is what they are known for.

How far would I walk for this food?

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