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Mother's Dumplings - another rave review

Searching back on the old threads, I think it was Juniper who first mentioned this place but since then, many others have chimed in and it's been on my "places to try" list. Last night, after catching the Warhol exhibit at the AGO, we wandered over to Mother's Dumplings. What a treat.

This is a tiny little mom 'n pop place - only 2 or 3 tables with a tv that runs a video with stills of nature scenes (very funny).

We were greeted by the friendliest, cutest waitress - the kind of person who just makes you smile. We ordered (too much) the steamed pork and chive dumplings, the boiled chicken and mushroom dumplings, the Da Lu noodles and the green onion pancake. Our favourites were the pork and chive dumplings, reminiscent of the crab and pork soup dumplings I just tried at Joe's Shanghai in New York. Really flavourful meat and chive filling with a bit of broth inside the dumplings - fantastic. The other favourite was the Da Lu noodles - a big bowl of wheat noodles alongside minced pork, wood ear mushrooms, cabbage and some other veggies in a very flavourful broth. The green onion pancake was a little dense for my liking - tasty but just okay. The only thing I would have liked was a plate of crisp stir-fried or steamed veggies or something along those lines to contrast with the textures/carbfest on the table.

Dinner for 2 was $19 and we took at least 1/3 of the food home with us. This place reminded us of the many little spots we found in Laos and Burma (atmosphere-wise) - it's highly unlikely I would have ever found this spot without Chowhound so my heartfelt thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

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    1. Hi - I don't know the exact address but it's on the east side of Huron, just a few doors north of Dundas (down a flight of stairs). There are only a few retail spots there so you can't miss it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: peppermint pate

        There is actually another dumpling place downstairs just two doors south of it, the first time I almost went in there by mistake, as I thought that was the place.

      2. sometimes i have the worst cravings for their da lu noodles and cornflour dumplings.

        i might suggest the veal and dill, but obviously only if you like dill. the cornflour pork and radish filled ones are unique, but not to everyone's liking.

        after talking to the women there for a bit, they had mentioned how their vegetarian dumpligns are very different in texture than most because of how they prep and precook the fillings. they tend to take on a meaty mouthfeel that surprises people. i still have yet to try them but i'm faithfully working through the menu as much as i can.

        i wouldn't suggest their xiao long bao, a little dense in the wrapper department there wasn't much juciness that characterizes these soup dumplings i adore.

        oh and the wonton soup... a serious steal. i think that it was about $3 or 4 dollars, possibly even less you get about 5 pork filled wontons in a large bowl of chicken soup with a few stems of greens.

        they are more than happy to do take-out for those that live in the area.

        1. 79 Huron St., a few steps north of Dundas.

          Glad to hear you enjoyed it, I'll have to drop by again soon, I've been away from those Da Lu noodles for far too long. :)

          1. Are all the dumplings steamed? Any pan fried?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Brain of J

              I think they only have steamed or boiled dumplings (though pan fried would be nice).

              1. re: peppermint pate

                they have boiled, steamed and pan fried.

                there are variations as to what is available which cooking method.

            2. Be careful you find Mother's. There's another dumpling restaurant right next door, also in the basement. Look for Mother's sign!

              1. Do you know if they sell frozen or uncooked dumplings you can take home?

                1 Reply
                1. I'd recommend the dumpling house on spadina north of dundas. They have good dumplings. They also have fried dumplings that are really good.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Chef_Fu

                    Sorry, but Dumpling House has terrible dumplings...their lamb dumpling is probably the worst I've ever had!

                    1. re: Food Tourist

                      Agreed. Gave it a couple of tries but the second time was as bland as the first time. The dipping sauce they have is waaaay too vinegary!

                      1. re: sierramum

                        I thought Dumpling House just had a bottle of soy sauce, another of black vinegar, and some chili flakes in oil, all of which you can mix together in the ratio you like (as Mother's does).

                        Did you get something else as a dipping sauce?

                        1. re: mtl to tor

                          Hmmmm...come to think of it, it must have been the black vinegar that we had. Because I honestly don't recall a bottle of soy sauce or chili flakes in oil! Maybe we sat at a table that had just been vacated, I don't know.

                  2. I still have a smile on my face 3 hours after returning from MD.

                    Craving-worthy: pork & dill boiled dumplings and beef & chive steamed dumplings. All 3 of us loved these, even my picky brother-in-law.

                    Very good: juicy pork "buns" (actually dumplings) and barely-fried pork & bok choi dumplings. Would try something different next time, such as the pancakes or soup, instead of these.

                    Three of us ate well for $20 plus tax! (Each dish is about $5) We were the only customers dining in, but a few people came in for take-out. I took home an order of da lu noodles for lunch tomorrow!

                    The server was so happy, she giggled constantly when speaking to us!

                    1. You know, I must go back and try it one more time. Because the last time I was there... they didn't impress me. It looked right, but as for the taste, I find it almost blend. I had better dumplings elsewhere (A dumpling restaurant at TIme SQuare Markham (Lesile & Hwy 7)). I do agree it excellently priced at MD. I am willing to go for another chow, just to make sure.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: cwong5

                        what did you have? i found the pork and chive to be unmemorable boarding on somewhat tasteless. i also don't bother with the panfried ones anymore because i find sometimes the fried dumpling dough overwhelms the filling and yet again it's difficult to taste.

                        the pancakes are ok but greasy... thick wrapper. however i completely crave and can't get enough of the dishes i mentioned in an earlier post in this thread.

                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                          I ordered the chive and beef (pan fried). Chive and pork steamed. tried their pancake too. and their soup dumplings. It was really inexpensive, but nothing wow me. (I have a video to prove it too!) LOL

                          1. re: cwong5

                            from what i've tried so far, those are the duds on the menu... which is why i don't quite understand the rave reviews of the chive and pork.

                            get the da lu noodles, everyone that's tried them can vouch for the depth of flavour in the broth. and the more interesting fillings for dumplings will really get you in flavour. by no means are they the best dumplings i've ever had, but they're pretty amazing at their price point.

                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                              hum... noodles eh. okay. I am game to try it one more time!!

                              1. re: cwong5

                                I went there for a late lunch today. well. The noodles are better. but the rest of the dumplings are really uneventful for me. It's good for the price, vut definitely can do better dumplings.

                      2. Be Careful of Mothers if you are allergic to MSG. I've had a few reactions after eating these dumplings and this might explain why they are so good. Dumpling House on the other hand, no reactions. A mixture of some soy, vinegar and chili with those yummy pan fired dumplings! YUM. Plus the Shredding Pork at Dumpling House is pretty good!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sarshiny

                          I'm not sure when you were last there but when we went to Mother's last week, the little board inside the restaurant said "no msg". I sometimes have msg reactions (though I don't think I'm super-sensitive) and I was fine the night I ate there.

                          1. re: peppermint pate

                            Then it's worth another trip for sure! Thanks for the tip!

                        2. Based on your rave reviews, I went to Mother's last weekend and it was tasty and definitely easy on the wallet. We had the boiled pork and bok choy dumplings which were very good, with a not too thick wrapper; the da lu noodles, an interesting combination, nice and hearty for a cold day (although I usually prefer spicy soup noodles, so I'll try one of the other types next time). I agree on the green onion pancake -- too thick and doughy. We also had the seaweed salad which was really light and refreshing -- not "fishy" at all, crunchy and mixed with some chili, garlic and sesame oil. All this for $15!

                          1. I just went to check it out and was somewhat disappointed. It was 12:30pm on a Thursday and they were out of the majority of flavours of dumpling. I ended it up getting the Da-lu mien which was great. Reminds me of mom's cooking.

                            1. This place is the sweetest plum I've discovered in ages. Pure flavour, incredible value, and huge portions. The pork and dill dumplings were outstanding bites of herb tinged heaven, while the lamb shui mai blew my mouth away. Each treat was better than the last. A must try!

                              1. Interesting...I grabbed take-out pan-fried dumpling orders from Mother's and the place two doors down to do a comparison and was massively underwhelmed by both. But I think I might've gotten the chive and pork (I remember they were both pork + something), so it sounds like I should give Mother's another chance!

                                1. Based on the review, my SO and I headed over to Mother's for some dumpling goodness. Needless to say, we never got the chance to try anything. We went there on a Sunday afternoon (probably around 1pm). There was about 8 other people in the dining area. Nobody came to check on us. After about 15 minutes, my SO went and got a menu. After another 25 minutes (no tea, no clean cutlery, no plates), we left in frustration. Oh well, I guess it is back to Hwy 7 and the Pacific Mall for dumplings.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Ubervache

                                    I think you had a rare experience there. I would say that you went to the other place just south of them but they are NEVER busy.

                                    Try them again, but then I am an addict.

                                  2. I am surprised at the bad reviews. I went last weekend (Saturday lunch) with my parents and we were very impressed.

                                    They were out of one of the dumplings that we ordered, but we chose another from the menu. We had the chive and pork (boiled) and the shrimp, pork and melon. We got an order of da lu, and a few appetizers with rice. We left unable to finish our meal and extremely satisfied. I would definitely recommend the da lu.. It was very flavourful, hearty and fresh.

                                    1. I agree, I find the bad reviews more than a little bit odd.

                                      I have been twice in the last month. Both on busy fridays for lunch. I was treated exceptionally well on both occasions and on the second (1 week later) we were recognized from the previous time. I haven't had better service anywhere along Spadina. We did have to wait a while for each stage of the meal though. Plan on an hour for lunch -- we did it in 45 minutes but couldn't have if we'd come any later (we beat the rush by coming at 11:30).

                                      The pork and bok choy, beef and chive, onion pancake and da lu noodles were all exceptional. The beef and chive was the best thing (buttery and reminescent of momos) shortly followed by the onion pancake (crisp and dense). The da lu noodles were simply good, not great, and needed soy and chili. The dumpling were great but did benefit from soy and chili (not that that is a bad thing).

                                      1. they now have a website too

                                        1. Actually this was similar to my experience. There were 4 other people on the restaurant. I was told to have a seat, then they forgot about me for 20-25 minutes. I got up and re-introduced myself to the cashier. She actually did forget I was there.
                                          The food, as I wrote before, I couldn't stand because it was so MSG-heavy. This goes against currrent Chowhound wisdom, but I just didn't like the place.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: merlot143

                                            It is odd that you are having a reaction because they have a no MSG policy there. I will ask them about it next time I'm in.

                                            I'm not trying to convince you to enjoy the place but I'm genuinely puzzled about your experience.

                                            I have noticed that they are positively flooded with customers lately. I don't think they are at all used to the level of business and many of the dumplings are running out by evening. They have 2 stoves now but they are still not keeping up.

                                            Better luck next time, merlot. I will reply again when I find out about the MSG.

                                          2. Actually, I was sitting under the "No MSG" sign when I was there. The juxtaposition is probably what ticked me off the most, so much so I made a negative posting on Chowhound about it.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: merlot143

                                              I could not taste any MSG in the food at all.

                                              1. re: merlot143

                                                I got a chance to talk to the owner about your MSG issue. She says they have not used any MSG since the first 6 months of operation. That means it has been over a year now. She has no reason to lie to me since I am a dedicated (addicted?) regular customer with no allergy to MSG. I do prefer my food without but I'm not religious about it.

                                                I can't explain your experience but I think you must be mistaken.

                                                1. re: 2HungryNicko

                                                  A lot of salt/sodium can cause the exact same symptoms that MSG sensitive people get. These dumplings are definately rich in sodium.

                                              2. Was there a while back. Tried 3 kinds of dumplings and was severely underwhelmed. The potstickers were pre-steamed or pre-boiled and then pan fried -- NOT how they should be prepared! The fillings weren't so much bad as kind of bland. The owner/server was very nice and friendly.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: tekkamaki

                                                  I saw them made the fried dumplings - they went straight from the prep board into the pan.

                                                  1. re: andreas

                                                    Yes, they warn you that the pan fried take longer because of that -- 20 minutes instead of 10-15.

                                                  2. re: tekkamaki

                                                    I am a huge fan of M's D but I will say that I think pan-fried is not their strongest technique.
                                                    For dumpling bliss I would recommend the pork and dill (boiled) or the juicy pork bun (steamed and really more of a dumpling than a bun).

                                                  3. I've eaten there twice recently and found no MSG whatsoever. Believe me, I eat at Chinese restos in the city at least once a week and when I encounter MSG I get a terrible reaction; racing heart, light headedness, anxiety. No way that Mother's Dumplings uses that crap...theirs is a fresh product.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: mutant4

                                                      I gather from your post that fresh means no MSG. Is this true?


                                                    2. We went last night and the food was excellent. I can taste when there's MSG in my food (you cannot smell MSG, it has no scent) and I can guarantee that there was none in any of the food we had.
                                                      We had the pork and dill dumplings, freshly prepared and excellent. Followed these up with pork and chive, steamed, which were my favorites. Smooth, velvety dumpling skins, excellent filling. The wonton soup was good but a little bland for my taste - still the wontons were fantastic and the blandness of the broth was helped with some soya and chili sauce.

                                                      The service was fine. We got a menu immediately and our order was taken in a timely manner. I did get up to pay because nobody came to offer the bill for quite some time, but that didn't bother me. It's a little hole in the wall, selling what I consider to be excellent home made food, don't expect the same level of service I' expect at more expensive places.