Best dumpling place (better than mother's, dumpling house, and chinese traditional bun)
- oohlala Oct 28, 2007 08:22 PM
Xin miao Dumpling Restaurant (2 doors down from Mother's dumpling), practically unheard to most dumpling lovers. After been eating northern style dumplings for over 20 years, I can swear by my life that this place makes the best dumplings in chinatown! WHY?
1. Owner's from Shandong province, birth place of northern style dumplings. None of the other owners from mother's, dumpling house, and chinese traditional bun are actually from shandong.
2. homemade chili sauce (ground fresh chilli and garlic). For those who don't know about authentic northern style (Shandong) dumplings, garlics are consumed RAW along with dumplings. Your significant other or date WILL hate you after, but you will reach nirvana with the chilli sauce. Remember to ask for it if it's not on the table.
3. When the clients are mostly northern chinese, you know you hit the jackpot.
4. Owner used to be a law professor, nothing's more appetizing while discussing law during your dumpling consumption.
Menu is simple, but everything is good. Decor is minimal and service can be slow (because it's a one-man show). However, if you want the best orgasmic dumpling experience in your life, the wait will be worth it.
For those who have not tried the restaurant, please do so and if you think i'm wrong, feel free to rebut. If you haven't, please do not write back and say "Mother's dumpling is my favorite one". I look for the challenges.
One more note to add, prices are cheaper than the 3 other dumpling places mentioned above and all include taxes.
It's at the lower level and the restaurant does serve noodle and some apps, but the main focus is still dumpling (boiled, pan-fried, and steamed). I did not get to try the noodle last time, so I cannot comment on the quality.
There's actually a noodle dish called "Californian noodle", if you do get it, please let me know how it is
I actually love this place. It's SO mainland Chinese, it isn't funny. And yes, their stuff is indeed authentic. I prefer their food to Mother's Dumplings, even though that isn't an popular opinion around here. The slow service does grate, but the prices are great.
we did not try the boiled dumplings with pork and chive, but the pork and cabbage ones were sublime, chewy wrapper with juicy filling, heavenly~ We also had the pan-fried dumpling with pork, chives, and shrimp. The dumplings were made in longer shape, which is what pan-fried dumplings supposed to resemble. Chives were not overpowering, I could still taste the pork and shrimp.
Whether the taste is good or not is not depend on where is the owner born nor the chef, I am not saying Ma's better or Xin's better because those are far from a good resturant in my mind.
Went back and tried more items on the menu.
1. Hand made beef noodle is delicious. Noodle is chewy and smooth. Broth is full of beef flavour and spiced with fresh diced cilantro.
2. More boiled dumplings. Chives & pork, celery & pork, and chicken & mushroom. Dumplings are all about the skin. If the wrapper's good (chewy & thin), the dumpling will be extra amazing.
3. five-spiced stewed beef, well seasoned and diced cilantro really added some punch in each bite.
4. pan-fried beef dumplings. Perhaps the biggest disappointment for tonight. Seasoning was bland and skin was slightly undercooked.
5. green onion pancakes. Crispy on the outside and dusted with black and white pepper mix (an unusual approach for me). The pepper mix really can surprise the tastebuds.
Everything together, average to be 8 bucks per person (include 20% tips). Can't beat that!
ha, so you also heard the thundering chewing noise from the 3rd table behind your friend???
yah, the pan-fried dumplings we had that day was not good either. However, the ones we had from our first visit (pork, shrimp and chives) was nice and crisp. Last night was the busiest night I've ever witnessed. It must be pretty difficult for the owner to serve 3 tables at the same time.
I'm not surprsied to see the negative report on shrimp dumplings since shrimp dumplings are really southern china's specialty. I will never NOT to order that.
I will ask the owner next time what items are made in the house and report back. Ha, I've at least persuaded two fans.
Did we hear the 'human food processor'?? Good grief, I was FACING him...and you thought the sounds were bad...you should have seen the man. I was surprised he managed to keep the food IN his mouth because it was open half the time. My friend is from Japan and he was too polite to look but he did say the sounds were quite disgusting. And wasn't it a hoot to hear the two noisy diners YELL for the bill simultaneously?! My poor friend almost jumped in his seat. Welcome to the Mainland!!
Were you the nice guy that kept getting up to refill the tea for your group? Did you ever try the California Beef Noodle? If so, is it the same beef as the stewed beef dish?
I always wanted to try the dumpling places down in Chinatown but never seem to have time to make the drive down. But after reading Oohlala's thread, I thought I would make the trip.
I went with a friend of mine and we were both hungry and anticipating the juicy dumplings. We ordered the following:
-boiled pork with chives dumplings, $6.99 for 25 pieces
-pan fried pork, shrimp and chives dumplings, $5.99 for 10 pieces
-steamed shrimp dumplings (dim sum style), $2.49 for 4 pieces
-fried green onion pancake, $1.49 for one piece
-sauce stewed beef, $5.99
My friend and I really enjoyed the boiled dumplings. The wrapper was thin, the filling was juicy and well seasoned. However, my friend and I agreed the other dishes were 'nothing special'.
The fried dumplings were a bit greasy for us and the wrapper wasn't crispy but rather 'fried and getting soft' and the soft upper portion turned out 'chewy'. Also the filling in the fried dumplings were rather dry and not juicy like the boiled dumplings.
Don't order the shrimp dumplings as they are not made in-shop but rather bought in bulk and steamed on site. The wrappers were thick and chewy and not at all like dim sum restaurant shrimp dumplings.
The fried green onion pancake was again bought in bulk and fried when ordered. We saw the owner run to the chest freezer in the front of the restaurant a few times getting our food. Anyway, the pancake wasn't flaky or flavorful.
Lastly, the sauced stewed beef which reminded me of five spice stew beef. Again the owner retrieved our dish from the freezer but this time he nuked it in the microwave. The first time the dish was brought to use, the beef was not warm enough so the owner re-nuked it. Bad idea as the beef was over nuked and turned out dry.
Overall, the prices were VERY reasonable. The owner didn't speak much English but was intent to look after his customers the best he could considering it was a one-man show. My friend and I are going again and just order the boiled dumplings next time.
I talked to the owner today and all the dumplings and green onion pancake were all made in-shop. There's no way for him to make anything fresh cause he's running the entire place himself. He has to prepare a lot of the food the day before and he can only freeze the dumplings. Frozen dumplings usually taste just as good as the fresh ones if they're cooked within few days.
I posted this on a "cheap eats" thread, but it seems more appropriate here.
Based on this and other posts, Mrs Scary and I went to Xinmiao just before 2pm Saturday. We had heard it was slow, but as there were only two other diners seated at the same table, and already eating, we decided to give it a try.
Within about 5 minutes we had ordered 3 small dumpling plates and a pancake.
The only person working there seemed very polite.
Over the next hour, 5 more patrons came in and ordered, two groups of two and a single.
Roughly an hour after we arrived, one small plate of dumplings arrived at our table. About 15 minutes later, a second plate arrived, but it was not one we had ordered, but hey, we had waited over an hour for our second plate so the one we received was going to have to do.
In the interim, the single table had received his full order, a large plate of dumplings, as had one of the two person tables, spring rolls and soup. (It's easy to determine what the others are eating and the status of their order as it is a small place)
Fifteen minutes later, or roughly one and a half hours after ordering, we were told that he had run out of the ingredients to make our third plate of dumplings. We asked about the pancake, and by the surprised expression on his face, it was evident that he had forgotten about it.
Not wanting to risk another hour and a half for two more dishes, and because the food we had eaten was average at best, we paid our bill.
We won't be returning.
REVIEW - Xin Miao: Rustic goodness!!
Date of Meal: November 5, 2007 - 9:30pm arrival, 10:50pm (or later) departure; 2 people
Meal Items and Price (tax included):
- 25 Cabbage & Pork Boiled dumplings: $6.99
- 10 Pork, Chives, and Shrimp potstickers: $5.99
- Bowl of beef noodle soup: $5.99
For this type of ultra casual ("small-eats" in Chinese) restaurant, it is probably more fair to review on an item-by-item basis.
Cabbage and Pork Boiled Dumplings: These were thick-skinned dumplings (contrary to the other review which said the Pork and Chives dumplings were thin-skinned) with a reasonably sized filling. The dumpling was not stuffed with filling, but the portion was more than appropriate, and with 25 in this order, it was more than generous given the price. The thick-skin was quite well made - chewy and not over-boiled, and well designed for dipping in some soy sauce mixed with vinegar and chili oil. The meat tasted fresh (ie. the dumpling hasn't been sitting in the freezer for too long) and was appropriately seasoned. A hint of ginger can be tasted. This was a good plate of dumplings, but I cannot say that they were mind-blowing (I've certainly had better, though not at a Toronto restaurant). Perhaps a good word for them is RUSTIC. It was down-to-earth, no bells and whistles - just comfort food. Highly recommended.
Pork, Chives, and Shrimp potstickers: The rating would be along the same lines as for the cabbage and pork dumplings. Though there were only 10 potstickers per order, each was decidely larger than the boiled dumplings - again, a generous portion for the price. The skin was thinner than the boiled dumplings, and the potstickers were made with the ends of the dumplings open. The filling was quite large, and the taste was very good. It was well seasoned and of a different consistency than the cabbage and pork dumplings. The product was cooked well - piping hot with nice chewy skin and juicy filling as well as a good colour. Again, delightful comfort food - highly recommended.
Beef Noodle Soup: This was perhaps the most "rustic" of the three dishes I ordered. The noodles were handmade, and the soup was not a spicy Sichuan style base. Instead the soup was a clear but rich broth with some vegetables and chives, with a generous portion of pre-cooked beef pieces (not overly seasoned). This was a rather large bowl of noodles - should be enough for most individuals. The noodles of the very thick variety. They were not a work of art - not like handmade noodles you'd find at a Ding Tai Fung kind of restaurant, but nevertheless excellent. They were not pretentious and were highly enjoyable to eat - chewy yet soft. They matched well with the soup and with the rest of the items I ordered. Overall, this was very good rustic dish, and on a cold Toronto winter evening, it would be among the best of comfort foods.
Service is where this place starts to fall apart, unfortunately. As noted by others in the topic, the owner/cook is ridiculously slow. My table of 2 was the only table at the restaurant for the entire duration of my stay. The items arrived sequentially, with the boiled dumplings first, then the noodle soup, and finally the potstickers. The dumplings took 20 minutes, and another 10-15 more for the noodle soup, and at least another 20-30 minutes for the potstickers. If it were not for the quality of the foods, I would have been rather upset since I was quite hungry.
Intuitively, I suspect that owner/cook was cooking the individual dishes one at a time, likely without much pre-preparation - like having pre-boiled water ready for the dumplings. This indicates either the owner/cook is a moron who should be put out of his misery because no restaurant can sustain this (he can't even do take-out like that) OR he's just starting out and hasn't invested in the proper cooking equipment (ie. specialty pots for boiling noodles, multiple burners, steaming racks etc). I don't think this is a matter of experience because common sense should tell the guy that it shouldn't take over an hour to serve three simple dishes to the only two people in your restaurant. Also, it is quite possible that he also made the noodles and wrapped the potstickers after I ordered (while waiting for the dumplings to boil), in order to prevent waste given his evidently sparse Monday later-evening customer base.
I would definitely go back very soon, but only later in the evening when there are no other customers. At the same time, if the owner/cook sells his dumplings frozen, I'd buy some too. The man seems nice and honest: he even told me I ordered too much for two people (of course I wanted variety and some leftovers). The price point is great for consumers - fantastic value. The only downside is his service speed. This is a big point obviously, and hopefully someone can tell him to speed it up without quality loss because there are plenty of potential customers to be served!
Last night, a friend and I tried, and failed, to eat at Mother's for the first time as it was overcrowded. We ended up at this place instead. I concur with other posters on this one. It's authentic, imho, to a fault, having lived in Xian for a year. When we first got there, there were two Chinese men, red faced from drinking gao liang, the whole place reeked of it. And of course, they shouted orders to the owner/waiter/chef.
Even the bland, fluorescently lit interior, complete with plastic flowers was realistic. The food was good not great, but again, very much like what I came to expect in a dumpling place in northern China. The main point was the price. We shared two trays, one of pork bao dze, and another of pork guo tia, a plate of fried peanuts and tea, we left stuffed and the whole thing after tax was $13.
Just don't expect efficient service though, it's a one man show.
re: food face
passed by yesterday and saw the door wide open and tables with chairs laid out waiting for people... didn't take a very detailed look though to see if there was any activity in the kitchen. hiatus or permanently shut down?
btw, mother's dumplings is quickly growing out of the super cheap eats category into the reasonably priced fix in chinatown.
all the prices are probably posted on the website but i've noticed steady increases in prices every time i go. sometimes it's only by 50 cents, but they seem to be raising it semi-frequently.
the beef onion roll was 5.99 last visit, to get handmade noodles in the da lu it's 6.99, they now have fried rice for 5 but considering there's no meat and it's all hard frozen veg... it feels like a scam. i can't recall anything else since someone else ordered before i got there.
If ever you are up Richmond Hill's way, do give 'Northern Dumpling Kitchen' inside Times Square on Hwy #7 a try. Great dumpling selection. Freshly made to order, nicely seasoned filling and tons of broth inside the 'thin' skin cocoon!. Noodle dishes are also excellent. Delicious sauces and perfectly cooked, home made al-dente noodles. My favourite dish is their cold appertizer, Sliced leg of pork in garlicky sauce. The spicy chili oil sauce infused and mixed with tons of garlic, crushed szechuen peppercorns, cilantro and other spices is simply out of this world!
re: Charles Yu
I can vouch for the "Northern Dumpling Kitchen" inside Time Square. My HK friend introduced me to her go-to dumpling restaurant last year and I've been going ever since. The chicken pot stickers are huge and so juicy that it almost fills up the soup spoon. Just take a look yourself: http://www.flickr.com/photos/teafortw...