I went on an excursion to Chicago with two friends from my area where we met up with another group for a few hours in Chinatown. We walked around the area for a little while and also had lunch at a Dim Sum restaurant.
This Wikipedia page is helpful in understanding more about Chinatown, feel free to check it out.
It was my first time visiting here, so I was going in with no knowledge of the place or any real expectations as to what I would see. Overall, it is an interesting place that is what you might expect; many aspects of Chinese culture condensed into a small area of an American metropolis.
Most of our time was spent at the restaurant. The person most familiar with Chinatown suggested a Dim Sum restaurant called Triple Crown. I'm glad that we went there for various reasons. While it ended up being a bit expensive, we were able to sample a large variety of Chinese or Chinese-styled dishes. I've seen these restaurants on the travel channel many times and was curious see what they are really like. Now that I have, I can say that I like Dim Sum a lot. :)
There were a few quirks along the way because we didn't know how things were done, but everyone was generally in the spirit of sharing and sampling of different foods. This reminds me of a social social faux pas I made many years ago when I lived in Japan with a similar communal-style restaurant, but that's a story for another time.
Dim Sum is somewhat similar to the concept of buffets in the United States. The main difference is that you don't go to the buffet lines, but rather order items from a list or select items that are brought around on carts. Each item is comprised of 2 to 4 individual pieces, which is especially designed to be for sharing. They have a large Lazy Susan (rotating tray) in the center of the table so that everyone can easily access everything that is ordered.
Besides the restaurant, we went to a few gift shops near the restaurant and also visited Chinatown Square.
Chinatown Square was laid out with a main square that had multiple paths lined with bi-level shops. The variety of shops was large with everything from generic gift shops to more specialized ones focusing on specific types of foods, candy, videos, books, and even services like a doctor's office.
Most shops had a no photography policy, so I didn't bother taking too many images of the area. The gift shops had what you would expect in the form of trinkets, but with ethnically themed items like the classic Chinese styled dresses for woman and a surprising number of things from Japan like anime plushies and wall scrolls. We just barely scratched the surface due to time constraints, so it would be nice to return sometime to see the place in more detail. Overall, I'd suggest visiting this place if you have never been there.