On Location – NYC Chinatown
I barely recognized The Dumpling House I was seeking when I first walked by. In fact, I almost walked by the place. It looked too nice. There’s no signage. But with Eldridge Street otherwise dead on a freezing Sunday night, I stepped inside the cozy looking eatery to check out the space. Lo and behold, the menu let me know that this was the very kitchen I was seeking.
More on the dumplings later, because the best reason to come is the Sesame Pancake Sandwiches. Huge circles of the sesame loaf sit behind the counter waiting to be carved and stuff. Less than $2 nets a triangle the size of a slice of pizza, split horizontally, and stuffed with your choice of vegetables, roast beef, pork, tuna, or Peking duck! Peking duck sandwich, $1.75! But it’s the pancake itself, freshly baked over an inch thick, intensely flavored by the smoked sesame seeds that make the pancake one of the best and most unique snack finds in Chinatown.
The hand-made dumplings are dirt cheap and what the budget minded crowds come for. One dollar gets you four fried pork ones (with chive or cabbage). Much like the effect that 10 cent buffalo wing nights have on me, I now feel I can never order dumplings anywhere else knowing they’re only 25 cents a piece here. Though while the cheap wing nights often mean a drop in quality, this mecca (see restaurant name) follows the opposite path.
The pouch is large, the dough with just the right amount of chew and not too thick. Though not soup dumplings per se, the dumplings ooze a little liquid. The morsels of pork are spiced well but you’ll want to apply the soy and Sriracha on the tables around you for some added kick. You can get your dumplings boiled instead, and it’s the same price per piece, though the minimum order there is 8. For non-pork eaters, vegetable, chicken, and shrimp versions are available for a few more quarters. Those who want to recreate the dumpling house experience at home can take home a frozen bag of 50 for $8-$12.
But now eating in, or at least ordering, is a much more pleasant experience. The successful business (as featured in all prominent NY papers and magazines, so points out the menu) has consumed its neighboring space, knocked down a wall and completely refurbished its interior. Formica has been replaced with smart mahogany paneled counter, wooden tables and several chairs to linger over. Luckily, the row of industrial, well used steamers and fryers in the open kitchen haven’t changed a bit.
118A Eldridge Street