New York, NY 10009
I like dumplings. There's no question in my head that they constitute one of the better forms of comfort foods designed by humans. Unlike pizza (another of my favorite comfort foods), however, dumplings are susceptible to being quite bad if not prepared and served properly. Some dumpling dough shells are not thick enough, other lack tasty fillings, and other just aren't served fresh enough (buffet dumplings, for example, are notoriously bad).
With visions of dumplings dancing in my head, I arrived at Dumpling Man in the East Village. Of course I must marvel at the sustainability of single food type restaurants in New York -- few other places in our suburban world have that luxury (see my related blog entry for Sarita's Mac & Cheese -- or S'MAC). Dumpling Man is a small little take out spot and has has two bar counters with 16 seats. Several members of the staff fold and stuff dumplings in a sushi-bar style area where all of their activities are open for the public to see. The restaurant is bright and clean -- with white and orange coloring. I later learned that the huge Chinese characters on the wall direct patrons to "eat dumplings."
We ordered assorted dumplings -- both steamed and fried, filled with vegetables, pork, chicken, and shrimp. We tossed in the beef dumpling special, which came only steamed, for good measure. We did not order any of the specialty dumplings that came in sauces, from hot to mild, on the theory that the dumplings should be tasted on their own during our first visit. I'll report back on how the other dumplings are in a future post.
The ordering process was easy -- and the male cashier was both polite and helpful, but not overly chatty. He seemed to harbor quiet amusement at the wonder of new patrons gazing into the store for the first time. We spent $ 29 for dumplings, two beers and two drinks for four people.
I was joined at the restaurant by my cousin and two friends, one of whom is up for partnership at a prestigious New York firm. He seemed to relish the beer in his hand as he recounted the stress of the partnership process, which he seemed to be handling quite well. Although he had already eaten, he promised to help us eat our ordered dumplings. Our dumplings arrived in about ten minutes -- enough time to polish off most of a bottle of Tsingtao.
The dumplings were good but not spectacular. They arrived hot -- and perfectly cooked. Dumplings are served in paper trays -- chopsticks and plastic forks were offered as tools. Knives would have been nice -- but they weren't provided in the serve yourself area and I didn't feel like getting up to ask the cashier.
While I prefer a somewhat thicker dough shell than the shell crafted by Dumpling Man, those of you who enjoy a medium thickness shell will surely enjoy the shells here. The ample supply of large bottles of Sriracha sauce added to the flavoring options for the dumplings. Several other dipping sauces were also available, including one called Dumpling Sauce.
My Dumpling Man experience was a good one -- it's a fun spot for a quick, simple -- and very Asian -- bite.