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Jan 14, 2004 03:51 PM

northern chinese noodles - pork dumplings

  • t

wandering around San Gabe with girlfriend late one night. Found a place, called Ming Wa (?) Noodles. I think that's the name.

On Valley, about a block west of Atlantic, in a minimall on the north side of the street. Just past a... car dealership? Something. First minimall on the north side west of Atlantic.

Smelled nice inside, very northern chinese I think. Unique smell. Not the anise/etc. spice mix smell of most Chinese restaurants. The smell of pork and cabbage and vinegar, homey smell, very nice.

Everybody else around seemed to have dumplings on the table, so we ordered: steamed pork dumplings, soup with homemade noodles, hot and sour soup (which seemed to be a house specialty, at least judging from the menu).

Hot and sour soup was strong, stiff, pleasant.

Noodle soup was terrific. Flat, dense, chewy noodles - lovely and handmade they felt - and a clean, fresh-tasting chicken broth. Very enjoyable. Immediately one of my favorite noodles in town.

Dumplings were fabulous. Same exceedingly satsfying, handmade-feeling flour dough on the wrapping, and very sweetly, fragrantly porky dumplings. Taste of gently seasoned pork and sweet cabbage. Girlfriend and I tried very hard not to fight over these.

These are my favorite regular pork dumplings in town - not Shanghai XLB, not dim sum dumplings, but plain hearty dumplings of the sort that I used to call "pot stickers". Favored over Dumpling Master's, Deerfield Garden's, Mandarin Deli's, others.

All good and satisfying, but pork dumplings beg for a near-immediate return.


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  1. Is that the mini-mall that's totally dead in the evening except for the beauty salon?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lu

      I'm not sure; I was too hungry to notice beauty going in, and too happy going out.


      1. re: Thi N.

        Hi all! I'm new here. After reading your review I decided to go to this place as I *live* for dumpling and noodle soup. My two most favourite things.

        The address is 1227 Valley, and it is in a mini mall with a beauty salon. Thi, your directions were bang on as I found it the second time driving by, and I'm someone who can get lost on my way home :)

        I went at about noon today, it wasnt too busy, a few tables full of suits. I was the only lone diner and non business looking person. First thing they plopped a pot of tea down on my table. They also had a bottle of sugar syrup instead of granular sugar for the tea. I decided I like this place already. I placed my order for steamed pork dumplings, and three ingrdient soup with home-made noodles.

        First came the dumplings, very home-made looking. Very good flavor and quite a bit of green onion in them, exelent. Was going to eat half and bring the rest home for a fellow chowhound (who showed me this site) but I downed every one of them, just too good.

        Then out comes my waitress with a stemaing plate of pan fried chow mein. She saw the look of suprise on my face and I said, that I had ordered soup. I stick to soup cos I tend to be a health concsious eater ( can I still be a chowhound?), but I do love me some pan fried noodles! She said she would change it and stated she was new. I refused, and insisted on eating what she had brought me. When I ordered I pointed at what I wanted and she wrote it down, but I guess somewhere along the way I got three ingrediant chow mein instead of soup. Three ingrediants being pork, chicken and shrimp. The meat, veggies and gravy were par for the course, but the noodles were a thing of beauty. Crispy and crunchy, yet chewy when saturated in the gravy and not soggy at all. I chowed the whole damn thing. Paid the check, left a good tip and promised to be back for soup. Everyone else in the establishment was eating soup of some sort so I must go back and try it.


        1. re: verna m

          I think the sugar syrup is for the soup, not the tea. Most Asian tea is drunk straight. Though I'm not sur about thos crazy Northrnrs.

          What're your favorite noodles and dumplings, noodle-lover-new-to-the-board?

          I'm also a pasta freak, but I've found nothing in town I can afford to match the handmade pasta that my flour-obsessed friend and I turn out.

          1. Soba and sansheiro at Otafuku (cold)
          2. Ramen at Hakta Ramen Shin Sen Gumi
          3. Shanghai noodls and juicy dumplings at
          Din Tai Fung. Also chickn noodl soup.
          4. The dumplings you had at Ming Wa
          5. Fish dumplings at downtown Mandarin Deli
          6. Various fascinating dumplings (like pork and sea cucumber) at Dumplings 10053.
          7. Udon at Kotohiro (in light broth with tmpura lac. (Sorry th ky btwn w and r just stoppd working.)
          8. Dim sum at Sa Harbour.
          9. Lamb and handmad noodl soup at China Islamic.


    2. I just spent an hour driving around the San Gabriel Valley looking for this unnamed dumpling restaurant. First of all, the address 1227 Valley does NOT exist. The closest address was a minimall that said 1025-35 Valley and there were two beauty parlors in it... but all the store signs were in Chinese. Nothing close to "Ming Wa". Please help with more detailed directions.

      5 Replies
      1. re: gtb

        Not following you gtberger, I went yesterday, and directions were perfect, as was
        a) the name Ming Wa, and
        b) the dumplings and handmade 3-ingredient noodle soup.
        Burnt the s#!t out of my mouth, on the piping hot soup, but worth every epithelial cell that was incinerated.
        Maybe you mixed up West and East Valley Blvd. It's just west of Atlantic, tho'

        1. re: Bob Wollman

          Thanks. Just realized that was my mistake. Will try again next week.


          1. re: Bob Wollman

            Yeah, I thought Thi's directions were fine.

            Can't say the dumplings were particularly heavenly, though. I've been permanently spoiled by the Mei Long Village version of xiaolong bao, to the point that typical pork dumplings just don't cut it. I'll make an exception for Royal Star's dim sum pork dumplings with hot oil.

            Ming Wa is a pretty good value nevertheless because the prices were low and the portions large. Nice three ingredient fried rice, huge bowl of hot and sour for $3 (though too salty I thought).

            1. re: gj

              Comparing xlb and country dumplings is like comparing consumme and chicken noodle soup.

              Was not the dumpling skin perfectly sweet, suffused with the flavor of pork? Was it not satisfyingly chewy? Does it not have pleasures of its own? Great, deep pleasures - not sexy pleasures like a mouthful of broth, but the pleasures of the plain flavor of pork and greens?

              Have you tried Meilong VIllage's XLB against Din Tai Fung's? It takes some while to adapt to DTF's bizarre texture control (like the first time I had al dente pasta) but it becomes an addiction. DTF's XLB are also cleaner, purer chicken stock. Meilong does a harder multi-flavored stock hit with a decent dash of MSG. I like Meilong more the first five times, and then changed my mind to DTF.

              Dumpling 10053 or whatever certainly has the most effete, high-class country-style dumplings (is there a proper name for these? I just made that up) but somehow I find myself craving Ming Wa's more.

              Kinda like how I crave good carne asada tacos more often than I crave mole, these days. After the two year mole addiction burned out.

              I had a XLB-or-nothing patch too, but it passed.


              1. re: Thi N.

                I'd say I found the DTF skin "annoyingly chewy", unsubtle. And if it is true that I'm comparing gourmet with grunge, it is gourmet at only a fairly small markup. Yes, the matchup is unfair...Mei Long has CRAB with the pork, for chrissakes, kind of like Shaq and Kobe going two on one with Lebron James...but given the option, and the close prices why should I switch? Plus I think MLV's dumplings are epidermically correct in every aspect. Will or can I outgrow them? Who can say...why would I want to?

                As I noted, I do recommend Ming Wa for some hearty eating at very nice prices because of the serving size and general good quality.