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Good Dumplings in Houston??

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I am a native Houstonian but have been out of the loop for a few years (being held captive in Dallas). I was visiting the folks for Thanksgiving this weekend and we decided to travel out to China town for dumplings. I read from a couple of sources that the place to check out was Lai Lai Dumpling House and I vaguely remembered going there some years back. I know from both reputation and personal experience that Chinese food in Houston puts the rest of Texas' cities to shame. I have to say that Lai Lai didn't deliver though. The first warning sign came after we entered and we realized that my wife was the only Chinese person eating in the joint. We ordered a variety of dumplings and a number of other dishes. All of the dumplings (fried, steamed, soup dumplings) were all way too doughy. The fillings were good overall but I couldn't get past how doughy the dumplings were.

Does anyone know of a restaurant that focuses on dumplings that is better than what I found at Lai Lai? I know such a place has got to exist in Houston..

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  1. This is the only negative review I've *ever* heard about Lai Lai in the entire time I've lived in Texas. Dumplings are what they're known for so you're pretty much out of luck if you feel let down. You could also try the dumplings at Kubo's or Santong, but IMO, they just don't compare to Lai Lai.

    1 Reply
    1. re: air

      Lai Lai serves northern Chinese style larger dumplings with the thicker, doughier skin. We don't have a place in Dallas that does this style of dumplings and I really miss Lai Lai. For thinner skin dumplings, try Santong. Maybe even Fu Fu Cafe since it's more Taiwanese style.

    2. Xiongs has the best dumplings in the city IMO. They have about 8 different kinds with the cilantro pork being my favorite.

      1. Yum Yum Cha in the Rice Village on Times has dim sum style dumplings -- some very light shrimp ones with a whole shrimp inside, some of the small ones that are open on the top with a pea or cube of carrot on top, etc. The basic, larger, more doughy dumplings are okay, but I like the smaller ones. Sorry I don't know the names.

        2 Replies
        1. re: clutj

          I have to say I agree with the original poster. Lai Lai is way overrated. They are serving mediocre americanized chinese food, which is fine if that's what you want.

          I would second Xiong's if you are looking for very good authentic Northern Chinese Cuisine. I lived in Beijing for several months and Xiong's comes closer to the food I regularly ate there than anything else in America. I've read that there are a few other places out on Bellaire that are serving similar food, but I haven't tried any of them.

          After trying a bunch of dim sum restaurants around town, I finally made it out to Ocean's Palace this weekend and was pretty excited about it. Everything was fresh, they replenished the carts often, they had all the classics, and a few really good specials. I thought that they were better than Fung's, Kim Son, or Yum Yum Cha. For whatever that's worth.

          1. re: benjym

            Glad to hear I am not the only dissenting voice when it comes to Lai Lai. I knew that there had to be better dumpling places in Houston and I will definately try Xiong's in the future.

            I agree with Ocean Palace's dim sum as well. Certainly far better than what you find in Dallas. I have yet to have dim sum at Fung's though we did have our rehearsal dinner there a few years back. From that experience, I thought Fung's was quite good.

        2. Lai Lai is not good, in my opinion. And its disgusting in my China-born husband's opinion.

          Fu-Fu was a good recommedation. Sichuan Cuisine has some good ones too. I also second Xiong. (My husband likes Fu-Fu best)