Dai Yee’s Asian Kitchen


Dai Yee’s Asian Kitchen logo

By Danica Calalang, Staff Writer

Dai Yee’s Asian Kitchen, located in Horner Park Chicago, is a family-owned Chinese virtual commercial kitchen that offers carry-out and delivery services. The name “Dai Yee” means Aunt in Chinese. They have been in business for nearly 30 years, being the third generation of American-Chinese restaurants in the family. Dai Yee’s is open six days a week, from Tuesday through Sunday. Due to the pandemic, the kitchen has been based online, but the owner, Lisa Yuen Umferer, hopes to move to a brick-and-mortar restaurant within the next few years.

Yuen Umferer has been working in the kitchen, which started as a sit-down restaurant, since she was a nine-year-old little girl. She would wash dishes and pack carry-out orders. She worked alongside her other siblings. For 10 years, her parents worked seven days a week. When the pandemic hit, the family-owned restaurant struggled. They dealt with a lot of Asian hate as well. The restaurant would receive many prank calls and people would vandalize their property. Riots and protests would occur in their own backyard. Business became slow not only because of racial discrimination during the pandemic, but also because there were many other Chinese restaurants in the area competing with them. Dai Yee’s shut down for four months and later reopened as a virtual kitchen in a facility of 22 other kitchens.

Dai Yee’s takes pride in serving fresh food in an efficient manner. They cook with the highest quality ingredients, keep their workspace as clean as can be and serve generous portions.

“My mission is to have our customers enjoy our food as much as they come to my house to eat. So whatever they bring home, I want them to have the same experience when people come to my house,” Yuen Umferer said.

After speaking with Yuen Umferer, I was very eager to try their food. I ordered the spicy beef, garlic chicken and General Tso’s steamed buns, along with shrimp with black mushrooms and bamboo shoots, chicken fried rice, pot stickers and crab rangoon for my family. The portions were more than enough to feed us all.

The pot stickers were much bigger than most other pot stickers I’ve tried and stuffed with pork and cabbage filling. Six pot stickers were in a box served with soy sauce. Usually, I don’t like to dip my pot stickers in too much soy sauce because they become too salty. That wasn’t the case this time. They weren’t really doughy either, leaving a crunchy outside and a soft chewy inside. These were the perfect appetizers to start off with.

There were four buns per box, which were well-sized and soft. Similar to the pot stickers, they were more filling than dough which is something I enjoy when eating buns or dumplings. We tried the spicy beef buns first. They were definitely very spicy, but they complimented the plain dough really well. Since there was more meat than dough, one bun was very filling on its own. The rest are currently sitting in my refrigerator waiting to be eaten.

You can never go wrong with fried rice. When I don’t know what to eat at Asian restaurants my go-to is fried rice. I was so glad I got Dai Yee’s chicken fried rice. It was a little more oily than I liked, but I kept coming back throughout the night to get more. Even though it was a little greasy, it didn’t dry out as it sat on my table and the quality stayed the same.

I wasn’t able to try the crab rangoons because I am allergic to seafood. However, my family tried them and they enjoyed it. They were bigger than the average crab rangoon and also mainly crab-filling over the wonton wrapper. And unlike most fried foods, they didn’t look or taste greasy.

Overall, the meal felt very light even after eating a lot. The best part about the meal was that I was able to enjoy it in the comfort of my own home. They were able to deliver the food to us in a short amount of time. It was ready and fresh out of the kitchen, made with lots of love and care. None of the boxes broke on the way to my house and was handled really well.

I will definitely be ordering from Dai Yee’s again, and I encourage you to try them as well! They are located at 4131 N Rockwell St, Chicago, IL 60618, and are available for online ordering through their website, GrubHub and Doordash.