soupy dumplings are indeed difficult to come by in Chicagoland area (there are several 'xiao long bao' (minced meat/veggies in those little buns with no soup) places, but that's about it.
with that said, i was drawn to Lao Shanghai because of an article posting on their window (and it was new at the time). However, please DO NOT go there, and definitely DO NOT order the soupy dumplings... the skin's consistency and flavor of the meat shouts out they're the frozen variety picked up at grocery stores to be steamed and served at a restaurant... they are terrible !!!
I used to LOVE Tank when it was a small little homey place down Argyle... ever since business boomed and they expanded, food isn't made as well as before. My mom plus 10 friends went to Tank a couple weeks ago, a couple of them even ordered takeout for their families. When they asked for take-home containers for their leftovers, the Tank staff said, "If you promise not to get separate bills, I'll give you the containers.. otherwise, I'm charging you for these containers." ridiculous.
My favorite Vietnamese place in Chicagoland area is Tay Do.. HUGE menu, best flavor.. LOVE their beef spring rolls (with fish sauce)... mmm!
After great reviews found here at chowhound, LTH forum, and various critics, I was excited to take my parents here for their anniversary. nice setting -- contemporary design/decor, b&w pictures, and a surprisingly large space. everyone from the hostess to the designated person who filled our water regularly were pleasant. the only person we unfortunately interacted with most ended up having an attitude problem...for some reason he didn't give us a decanter for our bottle of wine (other tables around us had decanters). i don't care whether or not a decanter is used, but I found it irritating that we're the only table not offered... especially since it was my parents' special day. and when my dad ordered "steak", the waiter asked, "um, are you talking about the strip steak?" it was the only "steak" on the menu, I found it unnecessary to make my dad feel stupid and second guess his order. not terrible service, but snobby and not very helpful. we had the foie gras & gnocchi appetizer, (special) corned beef, strip steak, bass, and pork belly for dinner. the timing and temperature of all the dishes were great, but there were way too much sourness (pickling) and saltiness.. taste was so strong I felt like I needed starch to settle the flavor (especially the bacon/pork belly)...but there weren't any. foie gras melted in my mouth, but the sauce was too sweet and a bit sour too... the only thing that wasn't too strong was probably the well-made gnocchi (without the vegetables that came w/ it), as it melted in my mouth. the two slices of bread served to each of us was also quite good, tho two out of four of us had the ends of the loaf served to us. while the flavors were somewhat inspiring, it was way too strong. Unfortunately, I would not be interested in wasting my time for a return (thanks to the memorably disappointing server). I also wonder whether or not Chef Virant was available -- never saw him out, so perhaps that was the reason why everything was overly seasoned.
As a side note, my friend went to Vie a few weeks ago and had a wonderful experience-- she said her waiter was so wonderful and even offered to give a tour of the restaurant/kitchen after they finished eating. the pantry, variety of pickling jars, marinades, were shown with pride and everything looked fresh and clean. goes to show how different the wait staff can be...
while i want to give them a second chance, there are just way too many other restaurants I'd rather try and many more that I'd want to return to.
my expectations were high.. it's such a shame.