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Beijing-style dumplings in SGV - Luscious Dumplings, Dumplings 10053, or?

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bulavinaka Feb 20, 2009 01:52 PM

What eatery in SGV has their game on right now for Beijing/Mandarin dumplings? Is it the usual suspects, or should we be trying some other place?

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  1. ipsedixit RE: bulavinaka Feb 20, 2009 02:38 PM

    I'd go to Luscious Dumplings.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit
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      jessejames RE: ipsedixit Feb 21, 2009 04:05 PM

      agree and get there early, like when they open(!), for full selection. small place and they do run out. those fried pork dumplings are incredible and inexpensive. i recall my brother eating plate after plate crushing the hopes of the faces peering in the window.

    2. Porthos RE: bulavinaka Feb 20, 2009 03:27 PM

      Dumplings 10053 may be losing it. Last weekend was my fist visit but I found the dumplings decent, even good, but nothing spectacular. The filling is minced and even with a microscope, one would be hard pressed to find shrimp in any of the dumplings listed as having shrimp.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Porthos
        ipsedixit RE: Porthos Feb 20, 2009 09:19 PM

        By the way, that's the way shrimp is supposed to be in dumplings. Finely chopped, or even ground.

        The shrimp fillings that have whole, or only roughly chopped shrimp, is more typical of Cantonese style dim sum "shu mai" or "har gau".

        1. re: ipsedixit
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          bulavinaka RE: ipsedixit Feb 21, 2009 08:05 AM

          Damn, Ipse, you never cease to amaze me. Thanks...

          1. re: bulavinaka
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            ayalHagay RE: bulavinaka Feb 21, 2009 05:08 PM

            luscious dumpling is the best place to go in sgv at the moment. the pork fried dumpling may be the best dumpling ive ever had at any place. the soup dumplings are amazing with a doughy wrapping that is a bit to thick. cabbage pork and shrimp steamed dumplings are delicious. items with chives tend to have too many, overpowering what else may be inside it. bok choy with oyster sauce is so flavorful, its one of my favorite vegetable dishes. napa, sole and pork are also very tasty but for some reason the texture of the dough is not as good as the regular pork frieds. all their soup in my opinion lacks a lil' flavor in the broth but i still order the beef stew every time; drizzled with a little vinegar and chili, its a tasty homestyle chinese soup.

            the best part about it is the consistency. small kitchen and small staff, with the old man cookin every time, keeps me knowing im getting what i expect.

            1. re: ayalHagay
              ipsedixit RE: ayalHagay Feb 21, 2009 10:00 PM

              Just a words to the wise for those that may be perplexed or mislead.

              The "soup dumplings" listed on Luscious Dumplings' menu are NOT (and I repeat NOT) the traditional XLB.

              Just a public service message.

              Carry on.

          2. re: ipsedixit
            Porthos RE: ipsedixit Feb 23, 2009 07:46 AM

            Ipse, just wondering if you've been back to 10053 recently. I'd be curious to see if you've noticed a decline since the owner change. As I mentioned above, the dumplings I had bore little resemblence to the ones pictured on Yelp. Yelpers have reported a decline in quality since the change.

            Regarding roughly chopped shrimp, the shrimp in the pork dumplings at DTF and Noodle House are both roughly chopped and neither of them are Cantonese nor dim sum.

            1. re: Porthos
              ipsedixit RE: Porthos Feb 23, 2009 07:59 AM

              I haven't been to 10053 since the change in ownership (full disclosure: was friends with the prior owners) -- so can't really comment on the supposed decline in quality.

              The last thing I would do is use DTF as a standard-bearer of what dumplings should be. I wouldn't even use DTF to judge what XLB should be -- and that's what they're reputed for.

              But I digress. When it comes to dumpling fillings, esp. when it's a mix of different elemental meats -- e.g. pork, seafood, etc., you don't want big chunks of any one type of meat. The point of having a mixture of meats (e.g. fish, shrimp and pork) is to have them create a unique taste all their own that is separate and distinct than what you would get from eating each type of meat separately.

              When the ingredients are not finely incorporated -- and left roughly chopped -- you don't end up with that unique taste.

              This is most pronounced with vegetarian dumplings. Try ordering vegetarian dumplings sometime at a place that knows how to make them. The ingredients -- usually some combo of vermicelli noodesl, tofu, leeks, chives, cabbage, bean sprouts, etc. -- are finely diced and resemble nothing like themselves in unmixed form.

              1. re: ipsedixit
                Porthos RE: ipsedixit Feb 23, 2009 08:13 AM

                Your dislike for DTF is well documented. You've also tried to tell people that the wrapper at DTF is machine made. Which it obviously is not. Given your DTF prejudice, I added Noodle House as another example of a place that does roughly chopped shrimp.

                Your example of vegetarian dumplings is accurate. Finely minced is indeed better with vegetarian dumplings. And back in the day, finely mincing more high priced ingredients such as shrimp was a way to stretch things out. It's interesting to note that in comparison, the fish dumplings at 10053 are more roughly chopped than other fish dumplings.

                As for finely chopped vs roughly chopped, my personal preference is for the latter when it comes to shrimp. For napa cabbage and other vegetables in meat dumplings, I agree with finely minced.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  raytamsgv RE: ipsedixit Feb 23, 2009 08:49 AM

                  That is a good analysis. I personally prefer finely chopped.

                  1. re: raytamsgv
                    Porthos RE: raytamsgv Mar 21, 2009 02:30 PM

                    Just got back from Luscious Dumplings for the first time. The dumplings are indeed superior to the ones at 10053. We got the pan fried pork dumplings, the steamed pork dumplings with soup, and the pork,cabbage,and shrimp dumplings. We also had bowls of the beef noodle soup.

                    The dumplings were excellent but probably contain a touch of msg given the slight sweetness to the filling and my mild post dumpling thirst. The filling on the pork and cabbage dumplings were finely chopped but not minced. Each component was recognizable and each dumpling contained a nice chunk of shrimp. I definitely prefer this texture to the ones at 10053 which were primarily vegetable filling and less meat or shrimp.

                    Pan fried dumplings were excellent and the steamed dumplings with soup were also excellent. The wrapping on the steamed dumplings were maybe a touch thick but the soup filling was light and delicious (and may be a touch sweet from the msg).

                    The noodles in the beef noodle soup unfortunately were soft. I prefer mine probably a minute less cooked. The beef was very tender and flavorful.

                    In terms of dumplings, I would also concer that so far, this place is tops in my book.

                2. re: Porthos
                  Ciao Bob RE: Porthos Feb 25, 2009 02:46 PM

                  I wasn't asked but that never stopped me from replying:)
                  I was at 10053 about three weeks ago and it was every bit as good -- if not better -- than ever.

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              lunacake RE: bulavinaka Feb 23, 2009 06:07 PM

              I, unlike most of the posters here, consistently found Luscious Dumpling mediocre. It is definitely too sweet to be Northern style, more like Canto, and the wrapper doesn't have enough chew. I like the dumplings at Noodle Express, especially the pan-fried pumpkin shrimp one.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lunacake
                raytamsgv RE: lunacake Feb 25, 2009 01:13 PM

                I like Luscious Dumplings, but I don't think it's Northern. I could've sworn I heard the staff talking in Cantonese the last time I was there.

              2. Mr Taster RE: bulavinaka Feb 25, 2009 01:22 PM

                What exactly is a "Mandarin" dumpling?

                Is this a dumpling that an ancient Chinese bureaucrat would have enjoyed?

                Mr Taster

                2 Replies
                1. re: Mr Taster
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                  Galen RE: Mr Taster Feb 25, 2009 01:27 PM

                  Finely chopped shrimp does not work for me. Part of the pleasure of eating dumplings with shrimp and pork in them is the texture of the shrimp.

                  1. re: Mr Taster
                    ipsedixit RE: Mr Taster Feb 25, 2009 01:34 PM

                    A dumpling made in the northern parts of China where rice could not be easily grown, or cultivated.

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                    bulavinaka RE: bulavinaka Mar 3, 2009 08:34 AM

                    We went to Luscious Dumplings between 5:30 and 6:00 on Saturday night. Parking can be a bit tough in this small shopping center. A Vietnamese restaurant (Vietnam House?) was pretty busy, along with Luscious Dumplings. And what is surprising is how fast the level of customer activity can increase here. When we first saw the place, it was about 3/4 full (about 16-18 diners). We found parking in about two minutes, and when we walked up, the place was full and there was a line of about 10 people in front of us.

                    We went early with poster jessejames urging because we didn't want to miss out on the pan-fried dumplings - good call and great advice, as we ordered some of the last of this item. They were out by 6:15PM. Lots of long faces could be seen as each set of new diners heard the bad news.

                    One is immediately served hot tea or water, along with some pickled vegetables upon being seated. There's also a tray with the basic condiments of vinegar and la yu-like chile-based oil flavored with sesame oil (I think they make it in-house). The place is small (I think I counted 26 seats) and simple but clean. The menu is simple and short - about 20-24 menu choices.

                    As abbreviated as the menu seems, there's more than enough to choose from to make a substantial meal. Along with two orders of the pan-fried dumplings with chive, pork, egg and glass noodles, we also ordered the steamed dumplings with chive, pork, egg and shrimp, steamed dumplings with cabbage, pork and shrimp, and the noodles in soup with stewed pork (belly). We also ordered the small bok choy with oyster sauce as well as a couple of sodas for the kids, but they missed these items - probably because it was extremely busy and the items are at the very bottom of the menu list that doubles as the tab.

                    The dumplings in general were extremely well-prepared and excellent in taste. The skins on the steamed ones (which come 10 to an order) were just the right thickness and with a nice toothsome texture given the size and generous quantity of fillings. While I enjoy chives a lot, our kids are luke warm to icy about them - just a heads-up to Chow-parents. As poster ayalHagay mentioned, Luscious Dumplings is not kidding when they mention chives as the first ingredient in those respective dumplings. The pork and shrimp in the chive, pork, egg and shrimp dumplings as well as the pan-fried version are very well minced together. This is in great contrast to the pork and shrimp in the cabbage, pork and shrimp steamed dumplings, where one will find chunks of shrimp in the dumplings. Both ways serve their purpose well. I think it's a matter of personal preference.

                    The pan-fried dumplings (which come three to an order) are a totally different animal. Much larger, flatter, and appearing more like an empanada or turnover with a thinner skin, these are probably the hottest item on the menu. Almost every table that we saw had at least two orders of these - some folks ordering more to take home. These are perfectly pan-fried where the skins have a wonderful browned finish on them. They are served partially cut in half and the fillings, as with the steamed dumplings, are generous.

                    The noodles in soup with stewed pork was something that really took a hold of me. I didn't know what to expect as the place is known for their dumplings. The noodles were cooked just right and the broth was light. The stewed pork - chunks of perfectly braised pork belly - were literally melt-in-my-mouth tender and added more layers of flavor to the broth. Star anise is almost a requisite for Chinese pork belly dishes. This was no exception. But as this spice can be somewhat heady and overpowering at times, I could just pick up on this seasoning but it lingered so well through out the soup and the chunks of pork. I could easily see Luscious Dumplings opening a sister shop labeled, "Luscious Noodle Soup."

                    I feel that Luscious Dumplings has a wonderful knack of achieving a wonderful balance in the flavors in the dishes that we tried. Our only downside on this trip were a few errors on the tab. Although we had checked off the bok choy and a couple of sodas, we were never served them but was charged for them, which the waiter sincerely apologized for and removed them from the tab. We also were charged for a soup dish that we initially checked off, but then crossed off. Again, a simple error, but I would caution eaters to review their tab against what was served. I attribute these errors to how busy they were. Aside from this, everything was very well-prepared and delicious, and the service was very attentive and efficient.

                    Thank you to all contributing posters. Luscious Dumplings is definitely worth the trip from the Westside...

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      ipsedixit RE: bulavinaka Mar 3, 2009 09:03 AM

                      What a relief. I'm glad you enjoyed the meal because I certainly would've been pissed if I trekked all the way out from the westside just to dine in a little hole-in-the-wall joint tucked away in a strip mall, with bad parking, a kitchen with too many chives on their hands, and some overzealous cashiers ...

                      :-)

                      1. re: ipsedixit
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                        bulavinaka RE: ipsedixit Mar 3, 2009 09:17 AM

                        LIke a lot of food experiences and life in general, it's as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Great rec, Ipse - thanks again.

                      2. re: bulavinaka
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                        jessejames RE: bulavinaka Mar 3, 2009 09:19 AM

                        Glad you liked it too and great report! We too went for first time on recommendations from folks on this webpage. Good call on the soup too, it really is luscious! Hell of bargain too isn't it?

                        1. re: jessejames
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                          bulavinaka RE: jessejames Mar 3, 2009 09:22 AM

                          Thanks again for the tip. And yes, the soup is fantastic. We intend to try the other soups listed on the menu. Most of the tables were ordering various soups so we assume they're all hits - just a matter of what tickles your fancy at the time...

                        2. re: bulavinaka
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                          noshie RE: bulavinaka Mar 3, 2009 05:26 PM

                          I agree on worth the trip out from westside, and wish I had gone back to LD instead of Noodle Island last weekend.

                          If you go back give another go for the bok choy, I really liked it (I also liked the starter cabbage so much I asked for and was given extra). I liked the noodle broth and pickled cabbage in it, but I found the noodles too soft (which I often do) I wish you could order them al dente.

                          The dumplins there were yummy, has anyone tried them at the place in the Golden Deli mini mall (which place looked to have a whole bunch of interesting looking main dishes as well) or Kingsburg Kitchen?

                          1. re: noshie
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                            bulavinaka RE: noshie Mar 3, 2009 05:56 PM

                            We'll definitely give the bok choy a go next time. As I mentioned above, we checked it off but it was missed. We'll point out each item next time so they hopefully will catch everything in the future. It was our loss that we didn't get served the bok choy! Thanks...

                        3. j
                          Jerome RE: bulavinaka Mar 3, 2009 04:02 PM

                          the wild vegetable dumplings at 101 noodle express on valley really have a taste that screams beijing. (pork and "shepherd's purse"/ji-cai). they have a nice selection.

                          and dezhou chicken as well.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Jerome
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                            nfarber RE: Jerome Mar 3, 2009 04:24 PM

                            Does this restaurant (or any of the other dim sum places) allow take-out, or is it always a sit-down experience? I'd certainly make an hour's trip for it.

                            1. re: nfarber
                              Chandavkl RE: nfarber Mar 3, 2009 05:35 PM

                              Aside from the fact that 101 Noodle Express is not a dim sum place, they gladly accept take out orders, as do all the other Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley.

                              1. re: nfarber
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                                bulavinaka RE: nfarber Mar 3, 2009 05:53 PM

                                Just a heads-up if you're getting take-out from Luscious Dumplings. I would call ahead to secure your order.

                                The place gets busy and we observed one walk-in customer turned away from ordering take-out because the waiter stated that they were too busy to handle take-out at that time. He motioned with his hand for the customer to turn around and he scanned his hand across the dining area to prove his point.

                                Another reason to call in is to get what you want. As others have stated, Luscious Dumplings only makes so much of each item. It's a small place and as much business as they do, they seem to have no issues with making far less then they can sell. The pan-fried dumplings that come three to an order sell out fast, so it would be worth calling in and picking up early. Of all the items that I would do take-out on, it would be these. They would probably reheat very well in an oven or toaster oven. I believe their hours are 11-2 for lunch and 5-8 for dinner, Tues-Sun.

                                -----
                                Luscious Dumplings
                                704 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                1. re: nfarber
                                  raytamsgv RE: nfarber Mar 4, 2009 11:32 AM

                                  If you really like the dumplings, you could ask them if they could sell them in bulk frozen. Just about every dumpling place I've been to will do that.

                                  1. re: raytamsgv
                                    ipsedixit RE: raytamsgv Mar 4, 2009 12:16 PM

                                    Not frozen, but they will sell them to you raw.

                                    1. re: raytamsgv
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                                      bulavinaka RE: raytamsgv Mar 4, 2009 07:34 PM

                                      We'll be sure to take advantage of the dumplings in the unprepared state. My mom adores Chinese cuisine, particularly jook and dumplings, but it's hard to coax her to make the trip from the Westside. Thanks for the great tip, raytamsgv and Ipse...

                                  2. re: Jerome
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                                    bulavinaka RE: Jerome Mar 3, 2009 05:59 PM

                                    We came very close to heading over to 101 Noodle Express. As much as we like their dumplings, my wife also is nuts for their beef roll, some of the noodle dishes, and the lamb skewers. We will give those dishes a try the next time we're out there. Thanks...

                                    1. re: bulavinaka
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                                      Jerome RE: bulavinaka Mar 4, 2009 03:10 PM

                                      in re frozen - they sell a bag of basic pork dumplings for steaming - 50 per order. In addition , all the dumplings are available for take-out as is the rest of themenu (101 noodle express).

                                      1. re: Jerome
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                                        bulavinaka RE: Jerome Mar 4, 2009 07:35 PM

                                        50 dumplings - oh the thought of those gems steaming at home! Will give it a whirl.

                                        1. re: bulavinaka
                                          ipsedixit RE: bulavinaka Mar 4, 2009 08:56 PM

                                          Boil, don't steam.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
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                                            bulavinaka RE: ipsedixit Mar 5, 2009 01:54 PM

                                            Phew - thanks for the tip...

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