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Dumpling & Noodle: Korean cafe on El Camino

Never heard of this place until friends took me tonight. It's been open since early this year. As far as what's served... the name says it all.

We started off with two types of mandoo. The fried dumplings had a crunchy-chewy wrapper and a meat with scallion filling. The steamed ones had thin yet substantial bread-like wrapping, and the filling was meat plus clear vermicelli - like japchae noodles. Both were hearty starters. We dipped them in a mix of soy sauce, white vinegar, and a sprinkling of chili powder.

D&N also has different types of kalguksu (chewy handmade noodles in mild thick broth). I had the bowl with squid and clams. Not much seafood, but plenty of noodles which seemed to grow in quantity the more I ate!

The sides were simple piles of kimchi and takwan. Overall, a homey and satisfying change of pace from the usual BBQ and soon tofu offerings on El Camino.

Dumpling & Noodle
3212 El Camino Real*
Santa Clara

*In the Quizno's strip mall, at Pomeroy. Easy to miss.

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  1. OK, here's a reply. You seem knowledgeable. The only reason I wouldn't have replied in real life is that I seldom get to Santa Clara. I love Korean, so if the place was closer to Berkeley, I definitely would have read it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chocolatetartguy

      Thanks!

      I didn't catch the name of the dish, but one of my friends got a noodle bowl with broth that looked like it had chili in it and flatter, wider noodles -- I want that next time.

    2. I am almost never in Santa Clara but thanks to your post, I will have a place to go when I am. So thanks! Dumplings and noodles have to be about the best things in the world so any place that celebrates them is worth the effort.

      1. Nan, thanks again for posting. I tried it for a late lunch before the chow dinner at Cafe Dhaka last week.

        Continuing my march down soon dubu row on El Camino Real, first eyeing Seoul Rice Cakes and Pani Puri Company, the next in the "our name is our product" genre was Dumpling & Noodle. As you say, behind Quizno's, you'll find a tidy little cafe that makes dumplings and noodles, Korean-style. Two ladies at a corner table were busy folding the dumplings. Other friends and family members joined them for dumpling-making and friendly chatter and gossip. And even though the chow dinner would start in three hours, I had a good feeling about this spot and took a seat.

        Open for six months, the restaurant has a bright, well-airconditioned space decorated with stylish photos of colorful Korean food, presumably their own dishes. Each table has a condiment tray with soy sauce, white vinegar, "roasted" salt, and chili powder, plus a stack of condiment dishes to mix your own. What I was most struck by was how welcoming and helpful the staff were, something I haven't encountered often in my Korean forays.

        I was really attracted to #1 dak kal kook su (noodle w/chicken in a chicken broth, $5.95), but felt like I needed to try some dumplings too since I don't get to eat around here often. I asked the nice lady waiting on me if it would be possible to get a half-order of dumplings and not have to spring for a full at $5. She nodded, then pointed to each photo in turn of the three baskets of different steamed dumplings (jjin man du) on the front of the menu and said, "one, one, one", meaning one of each. Again, I'm not at all accustomed to this kind of flexibility at Korean restaurants. And, as an added touch, she much have decided that I was Chinese as she brought over the Sing Tao newspaper for me to read while I waited for my food.

        This was my first experience with the steamed, bread-y type of man du. The circular one that looks kind of like a giant tortellini was filled with kimchi, the oval one was beef, and the round one was pork. The filling had some chopped veggies and glass noodles in addition to meat in the beef and pork dumplings. My waitress even poured my soy sauce and vinegar in a condiment dish for me. I liked them all with the dipping mix.

        The noodles in soup weren't as interesting to me. As much of the roasted salt as I dumped in my bowl, I couldn't get much flavor to pop out. There was a bad, very bitter zucchini sliced in there that I learned to avoid. The noodles were quite soft and not chewy. This made the whole thing sort of remind me of Campbell's chicken noodle soup. I wondered if I needed to ask for the noodles to be cooked less. Yet, it was a very large portion of noodles.

        I asked the cashier for boxes to take my leftovers home. Instead he took my plates into the kitchen and did it for me. He even wished me a "good evening" when I left. Quite a change from other Korean restaurants where I've felt less than welcome!

        I liked the place a lot and hope that we'll hear about some of the other dumpling and noodle dishes on the 27 item + bento box and casserole menu. I'm very curious about what "su je bi" described as flour dumplings sin various broths might be. And there are three dishes with "dduk bok gi" rice cakes.

        Image of street sign, steamed dumplings, chicken noodle soup -
        http://static.flickr.com/74/211591626...

        Dumpling & Noodle
        3212 El Camino Real
        Santa Clara 95051
        408-615-7705
        Open 7 days a week
        11am to 10pm

        Old thread on Korean steamed bun/dumpling -
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        7 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I alternated the kooksu with bites of kimchi. But yeah, I don't think the noodles should have that Campbell's saturation feeling.

          The dduk bok ki that my friend got looked very basic -- just the rice cakes, scallions, chili sauce, and a hardboiled egg sitting on top. I've had it at other places mixed with those, fish cake slices and more vegetables, and without egg. I only took a small bite, but the sauce had that kick.

          Thank you for posting the photos and thread link.

          1. re: nanklee

            The radish and the cabbage kimchi were fine by me. Oh, another question, was the iced drinking water different somehow? It tasted quite minerally to me.

            Also noticed that the menu has #15 "oh mu ra e su" (korean style omelette), $7.95, for those looking for that comfort food.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I didn't drink the water, just a few sips of the tea which wasn't memorable. The "oh mu ra e su" sounds tempting.

          2. re: Melanie Wong

            Su je bi is generally made by mixing up a flour and water dough, which you tear into little pieces (hence making "dumplings"), and then cook in a broth. I think I've always had it in a clear fish broth with potatoes, zucchini, and egg.

            I haven't had kal guk su in a long time, but they might be similar. Hope this helps!

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Went to Dumpling and Noodle last night and I had #14 which was the "flour dumpling in spicy seafood broth in special pot". I was expecting something like jampong but it was totally different. The flour dumpling was actually a thicker ribbon-like noodle, almost like pappardelle but shorter. It was simmered in a clay pot in a clear broth that seemed thickened by simmering the noodles directly in the broth. The "spicy" part came in as a side of red chile paste that you could add. The texture and flavor of the noodle was pretty good.

              I'll second the steamed dumplings. They're more like mini versions of steamed chinese pork buns than mandoo. We made a dipping sauce with soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper paste.

              1. re: Porthos

                Have you run across this style of steamed dumpling anywhere else?

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Never had this style of dumplings in a korean restaurant but they're just like chinese steamed pork buns except that the filling is korean.

            2. nanklee and Melanie, did you notice if there was naeng myun (the cold buckwheat brothy noodles) or bibim-naeng myun (the spicy red version) on the menu? I'm hunting for that right now.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Alice Patis

                Have you tried Sui Tofu? They have 6 or so different varieties of cold noodles. The noodles are different colors, so I'm not sure if they are all buckwheat. There aren't any English characters or descriptions, so I just point to a color that I feel like having. They also have good man doo (both steamed and fried) and man doo kuk soo (dumpling soup), but the hae jang guk is out of this world.

                I'm definitely going to give D&N a try...

                1. re: al88

                  Sui Tofu sounds interesting. It's hard finding good mul naeng myun. Thanks for the info!

                  Alice: I don't recall seeing either type of naeng myun at D&N...?

                2. re: Alice Patis

                  No naeng myun on the take-out menu I have. There is one cold noodle dish, #22 "jol myun" (cold potato noodle and vegetables in spicy sauce), $6.95. I'm not familiar with potato noodle?