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Mar 10, 2004 09:54 PM

Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House, Elmhurst

  • m

I've always enjoyed a plateful of freshly boiled dumplings, or even fried if they haven't been sitting around. But as a Woodside resident, I simply refuse to travel to Flushing or Manhattan for the express purpose of eating them. So, I was happy to find Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House in Elmhurst, Queens.

It's a typical Five Fried Dumplings For A Buck operation, with minimal decor. There's one table for four, ringed by about 10 stools at the counter. Actually, they also have a bathroom, so it's a cut above its counterparts in that respect.

The fried dumplings are pork and chive (5 for $1). They offer a "steamed" (more like vigorously boiled) version of the same, with a minimum order of 10 for $2. Also steamed are pork and nappa dumplings, as well as "vegetable" and "triple delight" options (the latter two are 8 for $2). They had three more hand-scrawled dumpling offerings in Chinese.

I had a plate of the boiled pork and chive dumplings, and one of the mystery options. While the distinction may be trivial when we're talking five-for-a-buck dumplings, I liked the fact that the pork is minced, not ground. I don't know enough about Chinese dumpling to determine whether this a regional difference or an idiosyncrasy of this place's dumpling maker. I do know that the resulting texture of the filling is more resilient than the ground/paste versions in a pleasing way.

The mystery filling seemed to have a slight bitter green mixed into the pork. At first I thought it was yu choi (Chinese broccoli?), but then I tasted a bit a mustardy-ness. Whatever it was, the assertive herbal note was a welcome contrast.

The rest of the menu is filled out by various types of buns, sesame pancakes and noodle soups (nothing more than $4). While the menu listing itself doesn't suggest anything special, the minced pork filling alone is enough for me to try their other offerings.

Does anyone know of other dumpling places in the area?

Happy eating,

Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House
86-08 Whitney Ave.
Elmhurst, NY 11373

Get off at Elmhurst stop on the R/V/G and it's about a two minute walk.

Lao Bei Fang
83-05 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

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  1. Thanks for the review. If this is the one right off the bridge over the LIE (and it must be), I was just driving by today and commenting how I always meant to stop but there's no parking right there. I think it's the only one in this neck of the woods because I travel most of the backroads in JH, Corona and Elmhurst and haven't seen any others.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JH Jill

      Go to Ping's on Queens Boulevard 1 block west of Grand Avenue also in Elmhurst.

      1. re: JH Jill

        Actually, I'm posting this to correct myself and let people know that there is another dumpling house. The one on the bridge is on Hampton Street just off Corona Ave. It's called Shu Zhe Dumpling Heaven. I still haven't tried it thought.

      2. They moved to a new place on Broadway. Bigger space with real seating. Their old place has new owners with a new sign/name. Both carry dumplings but I think I prefer the old place with the new owners. It's cheaper and dumplings are served hot.

        4 dumplings at the Whitney address cost $1.25 & $1.50 at the Broadway place. Dumplings pretty much taste the same except that Lao's has that slight perfumy fragrance.

        83-05 Broadway
        Elmhurst, NY 11373

        11 Replies
        1. re: tokimoki

          Interesting. What's the name of the new place on Whitney?

          1. re: squid kun

            Lao Kou Wei Dumpling House


            Lao Kou Wei
            86-08 Whitney Ave, Queens, NY 11373

          2. re: tokimoki

            I agree. I've visited both the old and new places twice recently, and find the dumplings at Lao Kau Wei to be superior to Lao Bei Fang's. The ones at LKW have a more tender wrapper - LBF's are drier and unpleasantly chewy. But LBF now has little plates (e.g. cucumbers w garlic, smoked tofu w celery) and ma la tang with choice of ingredients.

            Lao Bei Fang
            83-05 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

            1. re: Joe MacBu

              I was definitely into the LKW too. It was slightly more tender than the old ones. Also, LBF is raelly busy now. It's great to see that place in full gear and everyone happy. much better than the 2nd location, hot pot.

              BTW, hot pot place coming in across the street to the new LBF. should be interesting.

              1. re: Jeffsayyes

                I wonder if the revelatory niu nan shou la mian is still at the original location

                1. re: AubWah

                  LKW looks EXACTLY like LBF used to in that location. Down to the handwritten menus and the grime spots (I mean that lovingly). So they have the niu nan shou la mian, but I haven't tried it yet.

              2. re: Joe MacBu

                Too bad, the owner of LBF - at least the woman I spoke to - was so friendly!

                1. re: scoopG

                  Ms Wang, the lady boss in a baseball cap (she speaks with a Northern accent), is so radiant, she and her husband are wonderful hosts. Unfortunately, I feel that the dumpling quality went way down and the price went up. No idea why: I used to be their biggest fanboy!

                  Their hotpot is great for the location, but in absolute quality terms it is just OK. I always liked their beef noodle soup (with either tripe or tendon), but the last time I tried it the noodles were mushy, and the fennel (茴香) bolied dumplings, thick-skinned and chewy. Bad luck, maybe? Their scallion pancake was as perfect texture-wise as ever, so they have maintained the skill of heat control. :-)

                  1. re: scoopG

                    don't feel bad. they are doing great in their new location. no hot pot, just more dumplings, noodles and more.

                  2. re: Joe MacBu

                    At LKW, you are served directly from the kitchen. Dumplings are always served from those giant covered wok pans. They never sit around in open air or under heat lamps. At LBF, not so much. They were pre-made and sitting around, which makes them dry. If you nuke them at home, they pretty much have the same juicy texture as LKW.

                2. I tried Lao Bei Fang for lunch today. The hand pulled noodles have a nice chewy texture and they give you a huge portion of them in the #27 Beef & Tendon soup, which has a great broth, for $5.25. I'd order that any time.
                  The dumplings, on the other hand, were quite disappointing, both the fried and the boiled ones, with overly thick wrappers and not-particularly-tasty innards.
                  As ScoopG mentions, everyone that works there is very friendly.

                  Lao Bei Fang
                  83-05 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373