Any recs for a good dumpling place?
So I did a taste test of some area pork and cabbage dumplings…
A friend of mine was craving dumplings the other day, and while we weren't able to hit up one of the good dumpling places, I wanted to figure out where the best dumplings in my general vicinity were located (according to my taste buds). So yesterday I stopped by Wang’s, Gourmet Dumpling House, and a Chinese supermarket for the Chinese Spaghetti Factory brand.
I bought frozen pork and cabbage dumplings from each place, so this taste test only applies to that flavor and those three “brands.” Prices in ascending order:
Chinese Spaghetti Factory - $3.95 for ~50, about 8 cents each
Wang's $13 for 50, about 26 cents each
Gourmet Dumpling House $6.xx for 12, about 50 cents each (!!!)
I wonder if you can get a better price by buying a large bag from GDH…
I steamed two of each dumpling at the same time for 15 minutes (I usually boil them, but decided to steam according to the directions) and allowed them to cool for five minutes. I tasted them plain in this order, taking a drink of water to rinse out my mouth before and after each dumpling:
1) Chinese Spaghetti Factory
2) Gourmet Dumpling House
5) Gourmet Dumpling House
6) Chinese Spaghetti Factory
My results - and please forgive me for not being able to provide better descriptions. I'm not really a food writer. I just likes me my food. :)
The Chinese Spaghetti Factory brand was smaller, had less filling (which also tasted slightly dry), and had a prominent chemical taste. The wrapper was the thinnest of the bunch, which actually appealed to me a little more than the slightly thicker wrappers of GDH and W's. Its flavor was lacking and was overwhelmed by a strange taste I couldn't identify. Maybe they just added more cabbage, causing a slightly more bitter taste? I don't know. The only chemical additive in the filling was MSG. The wrapper contained bleached bromated flour (which contained potassium bromate and thiamine mononitrate).
On a side note, wikipedia indicates that potassium bromate is a possible carcinogen and is actually banned in Europe, Canada, China, and other countries!! It’s added as a maturing agent to strengthen dough. Thiamine mononitrate, however, is a vitamin that must be added to processed flour. So I don’t know if either of those affects taste, but there you go. Back to the food…
The second dumpling, from GDH, was an EXPLOSION of flavor. It was moist, had great pork flavor, was well seasoned, and was much richer in the mouth (would that be the result of more fat?). Worlds apart from the first dumpling, and absolutely no comparison. There was also a very generous amount of filling. I wondered if it tasted so good because I had it immediately after the supermarket brand, so when eating the second round of dumplings, I decided to switch up the order, which is reflected in the list above.
The third dumpling, from Wang's, was a somewhat close second to GDH. Theirs were the largest of the bunch (not by much), though the amount of filling was comparable to GDH. Their flavor was similar to GDH, though not nearly as rich, and its flavor was certainly less prominent. The filling was slightly less moist and rich, but it still tasted good.
Upon completing the first round, I decided to reverse the order in case one dumpling’s taste was affecting the next. I expected little difference between Wang's and GDH's dumplings, but in going through the tasting again, GDH again stood out even when tasting it after Wang's. It remained tops in terms of flavor, moistness, and richness.
I ate the dumpling from CSF only because I hate wasting food. But it remained a VERY distant third in terms of taste.
So there you go. It’s not scientific, not representative of metro Boston as a whole, and not definitive in any respect, but it's my simple Saturday afternoon comparison of three dumplings I can easily access. I’ll likely go to Wang’s for my dumpling needs, since it’s much closer to me and also the better deal among the top two (almost half the price of GDH), but I’ll always remember the mouthfeel and the richness of the dumplings from GDH and go whenever I crave really good dumplings.
Mmm... I kinda want dumplings now for brunch. Would that be weird?
I love the horizontal dumpling tasting. Thanks for taking the time to write up your impressions. I'm a big Wang's dumpling fan myself, especially the pork and fennel. Pork with string bean is also a winner. They have some chicken varieties and maybe veggie too (?), but I usually stick to the porky snackers.
What kind did you use in your tasting?
Ok, I just repeated the taste test w/ my girlfriend, and she's partial to Wang's. Maybe it's because we always get our dumplings from there... So like I said, the ratings above are completely my own!
To answer your question, yumyum, I usually stick to the pork/cabbage dumplings, which is what I conducted this test with.
There are terrific vegetable dumplings at Wang's --- vegetarian leek, vegetarian spinach, and chinese vegetables. My favourite is definitely the leek. I also eat the chicken with chinese cabbage on a regular basis.
Other than Wang's, I'd recommend Qingdao Garden and (on a good day) Taiwan Cafe.
I'm a bit of a bun freak myself (miscontrue that statement as you may) and have not seen a big veggie bun anywhere.
I do hit a couple of the bakeries in chinatown on the weekends for various buns and a nice cup of coffee with the older regulars. But again nix on the veggie bun...
And a new place just opened on Beach: Great Taste Bakery and Restaurant but I did not see a veggie bun on the takeout menu I have.
I like the pot stickers from taiwan cafe. Like most pot stickers, the skin is reasonably thick, but not quite as doughy or dense as standard peking ravioli's you might find at more westernized chinese places. The meat is not red w/ soy sauce, there's a fair amount of juice, and the cabbage inside is not mushy, which is rare.
I agree with StriperGuy about Wang's. Wang's makes the best, hand-made dumplings, and they can be bought cooked in house or in frozen bags for preparation at home.
Qingdao and Jo Jo Taipei are also excellent. Mulan also makes fresh dumplings, and the Taiwan Cafe dumplings can be excellent as well.