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Apr 8, 2010 10:58 AM

Family Dumpling House- A Keeper

I went to the Family Dumpling House today for the first time and was overall impressed. I was a little hesitant because of the whole “copying is the best form of flattery” issue with the Mothers Dumpling branding. The owners have done a great job of refreshing the space. This is a spotlessly clean restaurant with new cooking equipment, decorations, table’s chairs. A general light renovation has made the space modest but comfortable and inviting.

Service- All the staff was so warm, welcoming and pleasant. It was a joy. No feelings of chaos or being rushed. I went for lunch and it was slow with only a couple other tables full. My server was a young female with nothing but genuine attentiveness and smiles. All staff there struggle with English but the menu is fairly self explanatory so it’s all good.

Pan Fried Pork and Chives Dumplings- I went by myself and wish I had more to report in terms of other dishes so I apologize for that! The dumplings I had were excellent. Well done and very crispy on the bottom is the way I like it. Tender wrapping. They are more oblong rather than circular in shape and went down nice in two perfect bites. The filling was tasty with just enough chives Homemade nicely seasoned and texturally right. Overall, I would say the product has the “love” that I’m looking for in a dumpling.

Other- Vegetarian options are limited and the whole wheat option is limited to one kind of vegetarian dumpling. The menu states the veggie ones have “fungus” in them. Communication was limited from the server so I wasn’t able to find out if this was indeed a brown fungus or simply mushroom? The owner is super sweet too. She reluctantly gave me the menu to scan as she wants to perfect it. I told her I didn’t have time to do a review next week when the updated menu will be out so she pulled a menu from the in house stack. I think the lettering and prices may be too small to read so sorry about that. I also wish I had a better camera with me other than my crappy cell phone. Curious to see what other Hounds have to say about this place. As far as I’m concerned, I will be returning to the Family rather than the Mother!

Family Dumpling House
79 Huron St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

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  1. Thanks for the report. I think I'll be checking them out. Sounds good.

    1. sounds like they've managed to bring back the charm that mother's lost in the last year or so and was so vital to their appeal. i suspect that the fungus would be a woodear mushroom, though i usually have it mixed in with pork but it could be part of a vermicelli concoction as well for vegetarian. from the visuals, the skins look a touch on the thick side, can you comment on that please?

      6 Replies
      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        Yes wood ear fungus would definately make sense. It was with Bok choy and tofu. My photo really sucks and the skin was actually was not too thick at all. In fact the filling would was falling out of the skin sometimes as it wasn't hugging it with dough. Opinions are so subjective though. Always a discerning palate an an honest review...let me know what you think if you go Pinstripe.

        1. re: food face

          so i ended up dropping in today for lunch during a grocery trip in chinatown/kensington and was on my own as well so didn't get much of a sampling in, but so far i'd say my experience was very similar to yours.

          it's a cleaned up space with more efficient service (though they're obviously still amateurs they do try very hard, especially compared to the feeling of disorganization mother's always had). the food is a minor level below what i think mother's at their peak was and they only really lose out in the final details. i got the boiled pork and chive dumplings and no they weren't popping out of their skins but it was quite a rough seam that to me indicates lack of experience. otherwise the filling was very well seasoned and there were ample chives. the skins were a good thickness but i think a touch overcooked at times because they would get a little mushy in some spots. i also got the beef roll which has a nice dry pancake that isn't terribly greasy but it needs a bit more beef and more tender meat if possible. that's being nitpicky, the thing that really threw me off with the roll was the sour sauce. i'm used to it being on the sweeter side and the sourness was a bit off putting. also a little small for the price. oh and they need to offer a better quality black vinegar because this one lacked the right smoky oomph. same with the chili oil.

          i would easily go again to sample some of their noodle dishes (no da lu, but a couple different pork preparations) and do think it is a reasonable substitute for mother's.... but they're missing that extra finesse mother's had with the food and i'm not keen on how they're swapping all the cabbage for bok choy, why people rely on bok choy so much i will never understand. really my only reticence from adoring this place the way i did with mother's is the way the menu reads, kind of boring. would love to know when they finalize the menu so i can try it out then and get a more well roudned experience.

          last but not least, for anyone who cares, they speak both cantonese and mandarin.

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            Yes nice report pinstripe. I'm not sure the menu is going to change all that much but it will be finalized. I like the effort the staff puts into everything. I like their style- no ego and no drama just good service and a nice dumpling. I am going to try a beef roll next...especially since it's not greasy. I also should mention they serve really nice tea. If you peer into the kitchen area, you will see a gorgious massive jar of it loose.

        2. re: pinstripeprincess

          Actually this place "Family Dumplings" is a new place - The Mothers Dumplings decided it was time to move and clean up their act as well - but this time to a bigger place close to Spadina and College. I'm not surprised that someone else is trying to capitalize on Mothers dumplings original location, but it seems like they are doing a good job of it.

          Though I must agree with you pinstripeprincess, Mothers dumplings was getting a little old and hagrid, but their new place is better.

          (Note: There is a bug here I did not intend to double post) sry.. don't know how to fix it.

          1. re: ctrela

            Family Dumplings is clean, and although underground, I am going here instead of Mothers.

            Went to the new Mothers location and it was a catastrophe service and food wise. Went to Family yesterday, talked to the nicest server who worriedly asked me if I didn't like my da lu noodles (yes, they serve them here but just under the description "noodles with minced pork, egg, mushroom" etc), but it was because the bowl was just so huge! I got 2 good meals out of the one bowl.

            The menu says the noodles are handmade, and I don't know much at all about noodles, but they looked so perfect in comparison to Mothers, that I couldn't really tell. The only issue I had was that they needed more salt - I also noticed a sign that says they don't use MSG, so this could've been why I was inkling for a little more salt.

            Ingredients were plentiful and fresh, service was great, and the people that work there are extremely nice and accommodating. I will be back for the dumplings!

            1. re: jayseeca

              Yeah I basically haven't heard one good thing about MD since its move. Have avoided it to spare myself a catastrophe that seems almost destined to be waiting for me there. At this stage I doubt I will return to MD. Too bad, I was a devotee. But I don't care who you are, if you run a kangaroo court I'll ditch you in a heartbeat and not look back.

              I look forward to trying Family Dumpling House very soon.

        3. Thanks for the report, always love new Chinese dumpling places!

          1. went by family dumpling house again and thought i'd update on items since there seems to be a meager following and we pretty much ate the same things.

            so it turns out the finalized the menu shortly after my first visit, no crossed out cabbage with hand written "bok choy"s and more descriptors for the noodle dishes and others. the fungus is definitely wood ear mushroom.

            i worry about them.. the place was desserted for a weekend lunch. i think they're doing good things but are missing the mark slightly and in some instances it's just a matter of a little extra salt. i will still trek over to them before i bother going back to Mother's.

            we ordered the beef roll (another dining companion mentioned how greaseless it was before i brought it up) and while i still don't like the sour-ish sauce the others enjoyed it a lot. good texture, excellent pancake, nice pungent scallion. we also got the chive pancake which was a pancake/dumpling style with chive filling. this was greasy but filled nicely with chives though little else. i did wish the chives were more pungent here as they were mostly mildly sweet, more salt might have brought out the flavour i was looking for. really like thed texture of the bread/pancake though, just barely chewy, a little flakey, thin... nice. they also offer xiao long bao but these are very rustic.... the skins are too thick to be a contender and i assume they keep them frozen and cook on demand because they had definitive cracks around the edges before we handled them. i really enjoyed the filling though... it was a rough grind/chop so it fell away into little granules when you ate it. the pork was sweet (as far as pork goes) and savoury at the same time without being too fatty... there wasn't as much soup as i like but enough for the experience. my favourite item of the day by far, they seem to handle their pork fillings the best. we also got an order of the boiled egg, shrimp and chive dumplings and received large pieces of ok shrimp in each dumpling... i am not a fan of this filling... i like my eggs greasy/buttery not boiled. they were a fair rendition of them though. we also got the da lu noodles and the bowl is the same size as what mother's was offering but looked so much more amazing. it was a visual feast, not so much with the mouth. the noodles were overdone and a bit mushy (not sure if they were handmade, forgot to ask), the broth had a significant amount of corn starch in it and so not brothy and more goopy... very low in flavour. the bundles of ground pork were perfection though could have been broken up more and the mixed in egg was nice. the cabbage lacked its natural sweetness and i would have liked more mushroom, specifically the fungus. all the elements were there, but the flavour seemed dumbed down. as jayseeca mentioned, something as simple as more salt might have rectified this and a proper broth/soup. at the end we also got an order of the lamb and bok choy boiled dumplings. very lamby/gamy in a way i don't completely enjoy and the bok choy added very little effect. it was fine, just not superb. overall the skins were rustic but thin enough.

            i would go again, but would i highly suggest it to others.... not likely. it's a great neighbourhood place for simple tasty dumplings, nothing more nor less. i just hope they tweak the da lu so i'm not tempted to go to mother's at all.