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Feb 20, 2009 01:52 PM

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

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. re: ipsedixit

      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. 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.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Porthos

        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

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

          1. re: bulavinaka

            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

              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

            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

              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

                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: Porthos

                  BTW: the filling of the shrimp dumplings i've had at flavor garden were/are two distinct & substantial pieces of shrimp.

                2. re: ipsedixit

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

                  1. re: raytamsgv

                    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.

                3. re: Porthos

                  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.

            2. 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

                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. 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

                  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

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

                  2. 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

                      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

                        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

                        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

                          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

                          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

                            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...