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Mother's Dumplings: Not just for dumpling cravings!

  • xtal Aug 23, 2006 12:24 AM
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My most recent visit to Mother's Dumplings was fantastic, despite the fact we didn't actually have any dumplings whilst there. Here's the report.

A friend and I decided to go for a late dinner one Friday some weeks ago. We were quite hungry, as we had both been working late.

We wandered to Dundas and Huron, and slinked down the small stairway to Mother's. We were greeted by a restaurant that had three of its six(ish) tables open. We perused the menu, and decided on a five items. Here's a dish-by-dish synopsis (prices are approximate):

i) Green onion pancakes
Crispy on the outside, while being thick and chewy. A texture unlike the flakier ones I'm used to, but these were very good. $3

ii) Tomato & egg soup
A hearty soup with lots of excellent items floating about. A large serving size meant that we didn't get to finish this one, and I think we ordered the small... $5

iii) Juicy pork Buns
Perfect little pork buns with a bit of soup filling. Chewy and soft skin, and a delicious interior. These were served at roughly the temperature of lava. $5

iv) Da Lu noodles
This is possibly the best noodle dish I've had. Ever. Handmade wheat noodles in a delicious broth with plenty of pork and vegetables. It sounds pretty straightforward, but the delicate flavours in this dish prevented me from reaching for the chili sauce. That is a first. Plus, it was a huge bowl, and could easily feed two on its own. $5

v) Pork and chive dumplings
Though this was the item we originally came for, they were sold out and let us know partway through our meal. We gleefully cancelled the order, as we were having trouble finishing the table of food we already had.

We left stuffed and very satisfied. Dinner for two with tax and tip came to roughly $25, an excellent value.

I had a delightful time at Mother's, and am looking forward to my next visit. I can see myself having some dumplings, the noodles mentioned above, and exploring one of their other pancake offerings. That is, if I can rustle up a dining companion...

Mother's Dumplings
Dundas & Huron
(a few steps north of Dundas, on the east side)

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  1. Hey there. How many green onion pancakes did they serve for the $3 serving? MmmmMmM, your Da Lu noodles sound really good....! At least you make it sound good! What other noodle choices were there?

    1 Reply
    1. re: jennjen18

      There were two pancakes in the serving. They were about 15cm in diameter, and were quite thick and substantial. I think they had three or four noodle offerings. The Da Lu option was the only one whose ingredients was not apparent from the name so we went for it. I believe that they're all handmade in-house though, and they're all around the $5 mark.

    2. mother's is great and cheap just don't go there is you have any time constraints - they prepare the meal in the back on a 4 burner stove like the one I have at home so while delicious it can take awhile to get all you ordered. Also best to chare as there is no order to how things arrive - you might be left hungry while the rest of your table eats!

      1. Do you think a vegetarian would be suited there? He's not a strict vegetarian (if noodle broth was made of animal products, thats fine), so long as the meat is separable from other food, he's okay. Are there veggie dumplings?

        1. I'm a vegetarian (mostly) and I found plenty to eat at Mother's Dumplings. The chive dumplings and tofu-mushroom dumplings are amazing, and the green onion cakes are vegetarian as well. If your friend eats fish, the shrimp, egg, and chive dumplings are divine. Here's my complete write-up of a Mother's Dumplings visit from a little while back:

          http://wasabicowgirl.blogspot.com/200...

          1. Mother's Dumplings has a web site at:
            http://www.mothersdumplings.com/

            1 Reply
            1. re: Zhen

              Bookmarked, and at the ready for recs.

              Thanks Zhen.

            2. I enjoyed today's lunch at Mother's dumpling.
              The owner lady was very cheerful and nice. The restaurant was tiny but cozy. Pretty nice atmosphere.
              The green onion cakes were tasty, which deserve the reputation. But the dumpling... it was disappointing. I ordered steamed dumpling with pork and cabbage (because pork and chive dumplings were gone). The skin was made by whole wheat flour. Is it usual? I expected the one made by white flour.
              Other than that, it was good and cheap lunch to fill up my stomach.

              1 Reply
              1. re: postit

                usually it's noted on their menu regarding which dumplings have an alternative grain of choice for the skins. i personally loooove the pork and radish dumplings in the cornflour skins. there's an extra level of sweetness and flavour added to it that gets me. of course others don't necessarily agree and prefer the traditional types.

                get the da lu noodles... i swear there's more meat every time i go.

              2. Hi,

                I am planning to go to Mother's Dumplings for lunch soon with a friend, but she has never had "authentic" chinese food, and seems like she might not be used to that type of restaurant. Am I making a mistake in taking her there? Not because the food is bad, I'm really anxious to try it, but because sometimes the other person's reaction to the restaurant can ruin the mood and just make it not enjoyable.

                I'm not sure if I am being clear, but do you think we should make an attempt?

                TIA

                4 Replies
                1. re: beany

                  If your friend is an ultra-sensitive clean nut or simply a bit snobby when it comes to atmosphere, then she may be rather uncomfortable at MD. But if your friend has an open mind to try new things, then by all means take her! I think the setting is part of the charm -- it feels like sitting in someone's basement kitchen, with mismatched, second-hand tables and chairs. It's not dirty at all, but it feels a bit scruffy. The food is just good, simple homemade stuff. I'd say worth a visit, unless the first two characteristics apply. :)

                  1. re: beany

                    I remember going to my favourite Chinese BBQ place a few years ago with a (very) small town friend whose idea of Chinese food is sweet and sour chicken balls. Mistake. She thought it was just awful and wondered where on earth all her favourite dishes were and why there weren't any of those nice glutinous (my word) chop-suey-ish dishes on the menu. It did kind of ruin the meal for me. And obviously she didn't enjoy it either. I'd save Mothers Dumplings for another occasion when you can share with someone who has a bit of experience. If you want to do Chinese in the area, there are plenty of places to choose from that would have a wider selection of more familiar type dishes. You can try to broaden her horizons - but you should do it a little more gently. Mothers Dumplings is a very specific genre.

                    1. re: beany

                      I'd be tempted to try her on dim sum first--not exactly a head-first approach to authenticity but one likely to save face--and $$$--if it's a total bust. The approach has usually worked for me with inexperienced friends.

                      1. re: Kagemusha

                        Even dim sum can frighten off the complete newbie. We once hosted a large table at a favourite dim sum place, and had one couple from out of town refuse to eat... well, everything, really.

                        Seeing them scowling with hunger and confusion at their empty plates, while surrounded by all the lush fancies, really kind of killed the vibe for the rest of us.

                    2. Went to Mother's Dumplings following a glowing review in Toronto Life magazine. Was extremely disappointed with the dumplings. Tasted like they were the frozen store bought variety. The dough to filling ratio was not good... too much dough for my taste.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: pgfuzz

                        which ones did you order?

                        we were there yesterday and found the opposite, for the steamed pork and chive dumplings, personally I found the wrapper overly thin. The lamb shui mai were a little thicker but still not thick at all! But then I like a solid dogh -- I prefer The Dumpling House, Mr OW prefers MDs so we swtich around.

                        1. re: orangewasabi

                          Do you mean the Dumpling House on the west side of Spadina?

                          1. re: pgfuzz

                            yes, west side where the girls make the dumplings in the window
                            be aware though, if you found the MD dumplings too doughy, the Dumpling House has even more dough.

                      2. Thanks, I know where I'm going some night this week for dinner!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Pincus

                          Went there last night. Had the kimchi, the green onion pancake, the Vegetarian Chives and Noodles dumplings, and the Vegetarian buns.

                          The kimchi was flavourful, but not as spicy as I like it. The green onion was quite tasty. Both the other offerings were a bit subdued in flavour for me, but the creation of dipping sauce at the table perked both up.

                          Certainly the dough in the buns and dumplings was amazing, soft but still nicely firm. I suspect the meat fillings probably pack more built-in oomph in the taste department. Vegetarian cooking is a skill which takes some learning.

                          I bought some of the same dumplings frozen and heated them up as part of lunch today, and they seemed to be even tastier. Maybe they absorbed flavours from the other things in the microwave, or maybe I just ate them more slowly than last night, but whatever, I am definitely going back and trying more of their offerings.

                          1. re: Pincus

                            Thanks for the report. Your description reminds me that I haven't been there in far too long.

                            1. re: Pincus

                              Freezing can intensify some flavours, maybe the difference is due to them benefiting form that...sounds good, I keep meaning to go there myself...

                              1. re: Recyclor

                                Oh go! It's wonderful. Take someone to share with and get a beef sandwich roll as well as dumplings.

                                1. re: lilley

                                  ..sounds like a plan!

                                  1. re: lilley

                                    So, I made it for dinner last night, had the pork & chive, shrimp & egg & chive dumplings, both great, the Da Lu noodles (wanted the handmade but they were out) biggest portion ever! I found them to be tasty but really needed some brightening up with the tables sauces...beef + chive rolls were good too, def my new quick snack in china town!..also, ok ya I way over ordered for me + the girl - was a little too excited! - the wonton soup, oily and not really that flavourful, but cool that it was loaded with tiny dried shrimp...over all I think I'm sticking with Dumpling House, but will be back to MD for other menu items...thanks for all the tips CH's...oh ya, service was super freindly and we laughed together at how many plates I chose as they arrived, all in good time I might add...

                            2. This place was totally off my radar until I read the more recent posts surfaced on here. Today I was craving dumplings and had to give them a try. I was by myself and it was lunchtime/mid afternoon snack time so all I ordered were the pork and chive dumplings. They were great! I had them steamed and loved how light they were and that how even after eating 10 of them I didn't feel like I had a rock in my stomach. $5 is a great price for them in this city but it did make me miss my $1 dumplings in NYC (5 dumplings for a dollar... steamed or fried!)

                              I will be back soon to the Da Lu noodles and some other things off the menu.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: wontonfm

                                12 for $3.59 boiled at Dumpling House :-))
                                and they're better ;-)

                                1. re: orangewasabi

                                  going to try them this week... what are your faves?

                                  1. re: wontonfm

                                    gotta try the pork and chive, and my favorite in TO the pork and shrimp, get some boiled and some fried, OMG I live for those crispy bits!... I often see a spicy shrimp dish at other tables when I'm there, looks great I haven't tried it yet though...they do the whole frozen take out bags too, grab whatever you liked on the way out...+ since they make them pretty nuch constantly unlike MD they always have everything available...

                                    1. re: Recyclor

                                      Definitely agree with the pork and chive rec. Heavenly! I just filled up on cake and have no appetite, but the thought of those dumplings is sending me into cravings!

                                      1. re: vorpal

                                        Visions of dumplings have been dancing through my head so I gave up and went to Dumpling House today. Got the steamed pork and chive and REALLY enjoyed them. I liked MD because they weren't doughy at all and as a result were a lot lighter than a lot of dumplings. But alas my 10 dumplings did not fill me up.

                                        Dumpling house on the other hand uses more dough but not an offensive amount. I ate about 7 and had to stop. The taste was really great and fresh. I also love that its 3.99 for 12. I'll hit up Dumpling House when I want a quick, cheap and filling meal. And go to MD when I want something a bit classier and a variety of dishes. Can't wait to try the Da Lu!

                                        1. re: wontonfm

                                          Sorry, I had to smile when I read about MD being the "classier" choice :) The place doesn't really scream polish and all, but I have to say the food was really good the couple of times I've been there. Now if they could only do something about those condiment containers...

                                          1. re: hautecocoa

                                            Hopefully, MD will do something about the condiment presentation....I loved the food,did not mind the "rustic setting", service was fine...but I couldn't get my mind around those condiments...literally had to use some from another table as the ones on mine were rather disgusting....while cleaning them up would probably be largely cosmetic, a big step towards cleanliness is the appearance of cleanliness...I know it would make me feel better about the place.

                                    2. re: wontonfm

                                      if you like stronger flavours, try the pork & chive and the lamb, for sure. The pork & shrimp are great too. I agree with Recyclor, get some boiled and some fried. Personally I love the thick creamynesss of the boiled myself but the fried are neat too, the way they come in a circle.

                                      I am not a huge fan of any of their other dishes, to be honest, just the dumplings.

                                      1. re: orangewasabi

                                        i'm sold. trying it this week.

                                2. we ate at mother's dumpling last nite based on chowhounder recommends. and we loved it!we had terrific boiled pork/chive, steamed beef chive, and steamed veg. all good,hearty northern chinese dumplings. excellent service. my partner mentioned the inside reminded him of taiwan back alley restos. which give us cause to love even more. great time! highly recommended for those who love all things asian.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: zed1984

                                    Hmm. I just went to Mother's Dumplings today for the first time at lunch. I was gunning to try the pork chive dumplings or the shrimp, egg and pork dumplings but both were sold out. I ended up trying the pork and dill dumplings based on a glowing Now magazine review I noticed outside the door and was really disappointed. I probably just picked the loser on the menu, but they weren't very tasty, just tangles of dill and the chew (but not really the taste) of pork.
                                    My friend ordered the meatless Da Lu noodles, which were much better than my dumplings.
                                    Overall: 5/10

                                    1. re: mia_wallace

                                      check out the dumpling place next to MD, Xin Miao. If you like thicker, chewier wrapping and deadly homemade chili/garlic puree sauce along with ur dumplings, Xin Miao will be ur spot. Service can be quite slow since there's only one person manning the resto. I'll suggest going when you are not on a time budget.

                                      1. re: oohlala

                                        I second Xin Miao. Very delicious homemade sauces and dumplings.

                                  2. Finally made it to Mother's Dumplings, ready to see this touted contender to the rat-chewed crown of Dumpling House. Verdict? Either it's gone downhill awfully fast from all these glowing reviews, or we were there on a really bad night.

                                    It seemed they were extra busy tending to some very large take-out orders, so I could understand the delay getting the food. But when it finally did arrive, I was seriously unimpressed.
                                    Unlike at Dumpling House, with its long and impress list of pan-fried goodies. there were only two offerings in this category. We had the pork and bok choy, which were a little rubbery, greasy, lacking in flavour, and lacked any of the lacy golden crunch I'd hoped for. Fail.
                                    The lamb sui mai was just pedestrian. Edible, but nothing to write home about.
                                    The last thing to arrive at our table was won ton soup. It was just... strange. Funky smelling, strange looking, and the won tons were plain unpleasant to eat. We left it, paid our bill, and cleared out.
                                    My dining partner is not confident about Dumpling House since that little vermin incident last year, but I don't care- never going back to Mother's, she can keep her dumplings!

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: SpiceMustFlow

                                      Try the soup filled dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) at Asian Legend or at Chinese Traditional Buns. Way better than Mother's dumplings.

                                      1. re: SpiceMustFlow

                                        LMAO! 'She can keep her dumplings'.. thanks, that was a good laugh.
                                        But agreed it isn't good at all

                                        1. re: SpiceMustFlow

                                          The wonton soup is just the way northern style wonton soup is -- the salty preserved vegetable and strong dose of sesame oil are part of the dish. It does smell funky and taste very different compared to the more familiar versions.

                                          As for the rest, chacun a son gout.

                                          I have had numerous things from Dumpling House on multiple occasions and basically liked none of them. While I have been the Mother's regularly and liked almost everything.

                                          Other than the place in Times Square at Hwy 7 and Leslie, I can't think of a dumpling house I'd rather patronize. Although, Chinese Trad. Bun has good dumplings -- but they usually take a back seat to the other stuff when I'm there.

                                          1. re: SpiceMustFlow

                                            I was also unimpressed with Mother's Dumplings. Uncle's (what we called Xin Mao the dumpling spot next door, which closed down many moons ago) was *much* better.

                                            I haven't since found a great spot for dumplings... any new recs?

                                            1. re: JonasBrand

                                              Have you tried the "Dumpling King" in North York (off Yonge Street, south of Finch area)? However, if you think Xin Mao was better than Mother's, you might not like it as I rated Mother's better than Mao and I think the King is better than Mother's.

                                              1. re: JonasBrand

                                                Try this place: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/537901

                                                1. re: Atahualpa

                                                  Wow, all this hate for MD's! Crazy. I go regularly and I think it's still great, hasn't gone down at all. Dumpling King in North York? Meh. The dumplings are decent, nothing to write home about in the slightest and the non-dumpling items are tasteless and laughable. Though the owner is a very sweet man. I do like Northern Dumpling Kitchen in Times Square: in terms of their pancakes I would even put them ahead of Mother's Dumplings by a shade, but for dumplings and soup… not a chance in Hades. Not even close.

                                                  And Dumpling House? Pretty forgettable.

                                              2. re: SpiceMustFlow

                                                Although the list of pan fried dumpling at MD's is small all you have to do is ask them to pan fry the dumplings under the 'boiled' or ‘steamed' sections and they'll gladly do it for you no problem. Though you clearly didn't really care for MD's in any case so for you at least this is probably moot info.

                                                1. re: magic

                                                  I go to MD often and enjoy it. While I like the Da Lu noodles, I must recommend the noodles and pan-fried bean sauce (it comes in a meat and meatless version. both are delicious but I choose the meat). It is one of those dishes that will stick in your mind and keep you coming back.