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Forget Rickshaw Dumpling on 8th St.

sing me a bar Sep 22, 2007 03:35 PM

What a disaster! Especially after the anticipation while they opened months behind schedule.Why did a friend tell me ( the other branch) wasn't bad? I ventured into the 8th st. one and got some of the steamed "szechuan chicken" ones. You can order them just in a container, in soup or on a sald. The salad looked really dry and aged, so I went with the simple unembellished dumplings. Basically cold, maybe one degree toward tepid, they were really hard, with the edges the consistency of dry cardboard. I guess the idea is, once they're in the soup they'll warm up. The chili vinaigrette looked right, with a color that promised some chili oil, but once I poured it, I discovered it was this watery yuck, with no real kick. A large group of young Asian college kids were at a table trying various fare. They were laughing and groaning at how bad it was. I wish I'd gone across the street, for the small steamed dumplings at Cafetasia, which have a little garlic flavor and perfect consistency.I mistakenly thought if a place specializes in dumplings, they'd be better than at an all around restaurant. Wrong! Also, you surrender your receipt when you go to the pick-up window, so you have no recourse when you come back after discovering the dumplings are cold and revolting. The staff was totally green and clueless. They had a medium long line and only one register was open. A girl was trying to get the second one up and running, unsuccessfully. The manager was staring vacantly as he counted out a bunch of ones he had just gotten with which to make change.This was at 8! Gee, you might've wanted to think of that before you opened.

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  1. g
    gkolten RE: sing me a bar Sep 23, 2007 08:11 AM

    I agree. I went to the 23st branch soon after it was opened. Nothing special. And I never went back. Although, passing by there every day, I do see that they are busy.

    1. erin07nyc RE: sing me a bar Sep 23, 2007 09:13 AM

      I'm sorry to hear the new location is such a disaster. I've picked up food from the 23rd st location many times, and have always found it to be tasty and consistent. Your cold, dry dumplings are definitely not how they should have been, ie, they don't use the soup to warm them up. I would travel with an order of the dumplings w/ salad from 23rd st on the subway at night to the west village, and they were always still hot when I got home. You also get to keep your receipt at the other place.

      Sounds like they need a few extra weeks for training on 8th st... I'm definitely going to wait.

      1. b
        Blumie RE: sing me a bar Sep 23, 2007 12:09 PM

        There are plenty of fast food-style places where you don't walk away with a receipt. I have never known that from preventing anyone from seeking redress for bad food.

        1. walkoffdinner RE: sing me a bar Sep 23, 2007 12:14 PM

          While doing the touristy thing last Summer, my daughter had a strong desire to try Richshaw and she especially loved it, but I liked it too! Sorry to hear the new one doesn't measure up...and about the original one not to your liking

          1. j
            jeanki RE: sing me a bar Sep 23, 2007 07:23 PM

            Even the 23rd st branch is quite mediocre in my opinion. I was disappointed by how bland and overly thick the wrappers on the dumplings were, and the broth was salty and flavorless. If you go here expecting something like Dumpling Man (which is far superior), you'll be sorely disappointed.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jeanki
              jakew8 RE: jeanki Sep 24, 2007 08:26 AM

              I respect everyone's opinion regarding Rickshaw v. Dumpling Man v. whatever, but do you really think that Rickshaw's wrappers are thicker than Dumping Man? I've eaten at both several times, and the one thing that I like about Rickshaw is that the skins are quite thin. I don't know how anyone could think the opposite...

              1. re: jakew8
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                jeanki RE: jakew8 Sep 24, 2007 11:30 AM

                I reiterate, the wrappers for the standard pork dumpling that I had were DEFINITELY thick and doughy, unlike the dumpling man ones i had which are more like typical chinatown dim sum style ones. perhaps i got a bad batch, but I was not hallucinating. but i agree with the comment below that perhaps the fusion ones at rickshaw are better, which i have not tried yet.

            2. d
              daclaw RE: sing me a bar Sep 23, 2007 07:50 PM

              Totally agree w/ original post.. went there for lunch today. Their fancy website posts an 11:30am opening time but the door was still locked at that time. Finally opened at noon. Had two varieties of steamed dumplings (no salad, no soup) -- vegeterian and standard pork & chives. Skin was decent, but overall pretty disappointing. Especially considering the price. Don't really get this place. Is it dumplings for people who don't know what dumplings really are? Because seriously, it's pretty bad. Would rather make the trip to Chinatown if I really have the hankering for the stuff. I wonder if the original location is better?

              5 Replies
              1. re: daclaw
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                traceybell RE: daclaw Sep 23, 2007 09:55 PM

                --I think a reason why some Asian people or hardcore dumpling lovers dismiss Rickshaw is that they order the pork which is the basic and should tell you how good a dumpling place is, and then they don't come back. But actually, the nouveau "fusion" ones are better. The chicken is really good steamed and comes with some sort of Thai dipping sauce. And the fried duck dumplings, when fresh, takes care of my Peking duck jonesing in a way because it's served with hoisin sauce although they need to put more vegetables in it. It's too dense.

                Once I did have some really bad fried duck dumplings at the old location, but I've had wonderful golden burnished ones too. After the first incident, I tried not to go during non-peak times. I think if you do, the best bet is to get a steamed dumpling. I do think they're pricey though.

                1. re: traceybell
                  a_and_w RE: traceybell Sep 24, 2007 11:08 AM

                  I totally agree, tracybell. I personally enjoyed the fried szechuan chicken dumplings much more than the pork.

                  1. re: a_and_w
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                    oystersallday RE: a_and_w Sep 28, 2007 05:55 AM

                    despite reviews, i just tried rickshaw dumplings for myself. the "shrimp" dumplings were filled with a vaguely bitter and mealy substance that faintly resembled old fish. the dumplings themselves were warm. the miso and wasabi sauce, which in my hunger i thought would mask the taste of the dumplings themselves, was equally bad. i can't believe this place has the audacity to charge a dollar per dumpling---when they are not even fresh . not to mention that i can go to chinatown and get 8 scrumptious dumplings for 2$. the point is that i can't go to chinatown and the idea of a dumpling joint on 8th street seemed so nice. i guess i will continue my quest for good/cheap eats in the nyu area and relinquish the hope of dumplings...although i am willing to try sing me a bar's rec---Cafetasia. thumbs down rickshaw.

                    ps. the thinness of the dumpling skin was the only thing that i appreciated in the whole experience. too bad it tasted like sheisse.

                    1. re: oystersallday
                      m
                      MikeG RE: oystersallday Sep 28, 2007 01:08 PM

                      If you're willing to walk up to 14th St (abt 75 yds east of 3rd), Vanessa's is actually very good for ex-Chinatown dumplings; just be prepared for a Keystone Kops routine - they're order taking/cooking/serving "system" is more reminiscent of chickens running around without their heads than anything else...

                      1. re: MikeG
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                        traceybell RE: MikeG Oct 2, 2007 05:02 PM

                        Vanessa's is owned by the same woman who owns Dumpling House on Eldridge.

              2. erin07nyc RE: sing me a bar Sep 28, 2007 09:02 AM

                I tried the new location for lunch a few days ago and like it a lot. I had fried shrimp dumplings w/ the salad, and 1 chocolate soup dumpling. I like the shrimp dumplings a lot - the filling was the same as the other location (mild flavor, chunks of shrimp). But, I found the skin to be thicker and chewier than at 23rd st. In my book, that's actually a good thing when they're fried. The fried dumplings were a little stuck together... and the chocolate soup dumpling was delicious. Whether these are great representations of what dumplings should be or not, I'll say that I actually do crave rickshaw from time to time. I will agree that it's not an excellent value, and that they're probably just not consistent yet at the new place. I will be back.

                1. claireness RE: sing me a bar Sep 28, 2007 01:41 PM

                  Been to both the 23rd and 8th st branches...still the only decent thing to spend your money on are the duck dumplings and the chocolate soup dumplings for dessert. My boyfriend makes fun of me but i do get a craving for their duck dumplings about once every 6 months.

                  Do NOT waste your stomach and money on the noodle soup (horrible!!!!) or the salad.

                  Ditto on Vanessa's...not bad. And their frozen take home is reasonable.

                  But honestly I'd rather take the extra few minutes and head to chinatown.

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