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Dumpling cafe, Chinatown

Dumpling Cafe (Washington St. at Kneeland) has been open a week and the red-ribboned flower arrangements line the storefront. It is a Taiwanese place and stands up well to the Taiwan Cafe and Gourmet Dumpling House. For lunch, I had the Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) and the 3 cup chicken lunch special which came with a light soup and rice. The XLB were excellent. Six large and flavorful dumplings with good thin skins (housemade). The 3 cup chicken was good but lots of bone bits in the chopped chicken legs. Soup was a nice light broth with pork, soft tofu, seaweed and chopped tomato that had enough texture to make it clear that the soup hadn't been standing all day. Prices are about the same as the other Taiwanese places (maybe a little more) and it had a good crowd of locals. Noodles and dumplings at other tables looked good and it's worth another visit. I must say, a Cantonese lad like me appreciates all the good new Chinese places representing other regions.

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Gourmet Dumpling House
52 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

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  1. Thanks for the report! I wanted to try this last week when I went to see Wicked, but the MBTA bus was 30 minutes late and I didn't have enough time. I can't wait to try this place out!

    1. Thanks for the tip! We had dinner there today and enjoyed all 4 items we ordered: steamed vegetable dumplings, pan-fried meat dumplings, crab and silky noodle clay pot and Taiwanese style eggplant. The crab dish in particular was a stand-out - very strong crab flavor, but fresh and light.

      8 Replies
        1. re: galleygirl

          agreed, XLB were excellent—nice, thin skins and yummy broth

            1. re: peelmeagrape

              Edit: I just heated up some of the leftovers and see that I forgot to mention one ingredient that I don't recognize which might be pork and which my DC guessed might be tripe. It's sort of a paper-thin tube that has been sliced into inch-long sections. It doesn't seem to have a strong flavor but maybe it's just that the flavor is married with the rest of the dish? Sorry I can't be more helpful.

                1. re: peelmeagrape

                  fu zhu, sometimes translated as "dried tofu sticks"

            2. re: peelmeagrape

              yes, the crab and silky noodle clay pot caught my eye. Are the silky noodles bean thread (glass) noodles or something else? Also, pieces of crab in shell or just crab meat?

              1. re: gourmaniac

                Yeah, they're the thin, transparent bean thread noodles. Same kind that are in the steamed veggie dumplings. It's all pieces of crab in the shell.

            3. grilled chicken skin, meatballs and duck tongues
              say no more
              maybe this will help scratch the yakitori itch

              Dumpling Cafe
              695 Washington Street
              Boston 02111
              (617) 338-8858, (617) 338-8859
              www.DumplingCafe.com

              1. I was reading the menu and it appears to be nearly identical to the menu of Gourmet Dumpling House. Who else calls XLB "mini juicy dumplings"?

                Its certainly not a bad thing to have a second GDH, but I would be pretty surprised if it ended up being too much different than the original.

                Still, I'll undoubtedly check it out in the next couple of days.

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                Gourmet Dumpling House
                52 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

                5 Replies
                1. re: zcicala

                  Its a pretty common thing to call them. Formosa taipai for instance calls them "little juicy steamed pork buns" http://formosa-taipei.com/menus/Nashu...
                  Winsor calls them "house mini steamed pork buns" http://boston.menupages.com/menuproce...

                  1. re: hargau

                    I figured he meant exactly "mini juicy dumplings". the juicy/steamer/steamed theme is indeed pretty common.

                  2. re: zcicala

                    Pretty funny... I laughed to myself when I saw "mini juicy dumplings" on Dumpling Cafe's menu, too. I've never had XLB outside of Boston's Chinatown. Are there any places elsewhere like in NYC that have much larger XLB? The mini juicy dumplings at GDH were a pretty big to me (won't fit on a spoon).

                    1. re: Mike5966

                      well one of the better known xlb places is Nan Xiang XLB in Flushing and here's pics of course. they barely fit in the ceramic soup spoons, as you can see in the pics.

                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/tatsuuuu...

                    2. re: zcicala

                      the xiao long bao with pork are called "mini steamed buns with pork" on the menu

                    3. stopped in yesterday for lunch. had the grilled chicken skin, grilled duck tongues, xiao long bao (pork soup dumplings), and the taiwanese-style pork belly lunch special

                      loved the grilled chicken skin and grilled duck tongues. threaded on small bamboo skewers and slathered in sauce. the chicken skin wasn't as crisp as i had hoped (next time i would ask for "extra crispy") but there were a few pieces with some nice char

                      the xiao long bao were good too. served in a bamboo steamer with the requisite slivered ginger and black rice vinegar. thin delicate skins *filled* with ground pork and hot soup broth. i've never had xiao long bao filled with that much broth

                      the only disappointment was the taiwanese-style pork belly lunch special. chunks of braised pork belly in a soy-based brown sauce over wilted yu-choy. the pork belly could have been braised a little bit longer and sauce was too salty

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: galangatron

                        Sounds delicious. The last order of XLB I had at Gourment Dumpling House two weeks ago had three or four dumplings that had already been deflated of their soup broth interior by the time the steamer arrived at the table. Very disappointing... The moment when the broth spills into your mouth is a joy that can barely be described in words, so the more broth the better.

                        I'm also super excited about the grilled skewers. What kind of sauce were they slathered in?

                        1. re: galangatron

                          so much broth that I had one explode onto my shirt. nasty stain by the way but so worth it! I was a little disappointed the rice plate that i had so perhaps not a strength of the place. Need to check out the grilled menu as well. This might be the izakaya/yakitori type place that we have been missing in Boston.

                          1. re: gourmaniac

                            Now I know why you had a nasty stain. The broth here is of a much deeper brown color than those at GDH.

                        2. I stopped by tonight--any place that's actually open till 2AM (and they were willing to seat people after 1:30 and were taking orders for carryout as late as 1:55) is worth at least checking out. I had the preserved pork with leeks, which the hostess insisted was not pork belly, but which was in fact fatty pork of some sort, which she claimed was cured in their kitchen. Aside from a couple of pieces of inedible (by me) pork skin, it was quite good.

                          I'm going to go back soon to try the twice-cooked preserved pork, but I suspect that GDH will continue to be my first choice, because they do some very good Sichuanese dishes, and I'm just not that into Taiwanese food, certainly not enough so to support *three* such places within half a mile of each other. I'd rather have a great Cantonese restaurant (which Peach Farm really isn't anymore) with a fully translated menu.

                          I haven't figured out the Chinese name of this place, but I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with dumplings. And I'm not sure how the idea that these places are related--it wouldn't make sense to open restaurants that compete with each other from basically across the street.

                          ~ Kiran <entropy@io.com>

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: KWagle

                            I went on Tue(09/08/10) for lunch, had the xlb with crabmeat, the Taiwanese pan fried dumplings and Taiwanese style pork noodles. Married to a Taiwanese woman so I am into this and it approaches the quality of what I have had in Flushing NY and in Fremont CA/Milpitas/SF for Taiwanese. A very welcomed addition.

                            Update just tried to get in at lunch, line out the door. Might be because it's new and Shiny.
                            But, it seems to have "community support".

                            1. re: KWagle

                              The Chinese name (on their website at least) is nan bei he in mandarin or naam buk wo in cantonese. It means south-west harmony.

                              1. re: kobuta

                                南北和 ? Isn't that south-north harmony? I gotta say, that font on their carryout menu is worse than most handwriting.

                                1. re: KWagle

                                  I showed the takeout menu to a friend from the PRC who does not speak English that well, she said "the Chinese name is" North/South" as in being from the North and the South."
                                  so I guess that matches?

                                  1. re: KWagle

                                    Yes, you're correct ...north, not west. Must have had airlines on my mind...

                              2. Had dinner here last night. Chicken meatballs were succulent and delicious, as were the duck tongue skewers. You get four skewers with each order, and they come out hot and with nice brown carmelization and tiny spots of char. Sauce is very subtle, very similar to a good yakitori. I'd never had duck tongues before and they were delicious. They definitely don't have that offal-y flavor that beef tongues, for example, have. They had a nice gelatinous, chewy, and meaty texture, and had the palate bone running through the center of each tongue. Delicious, especially when dipped in the spiced soy-vinegar sauce and/or the chunky red chili sauce that came with them.

                                Also had the twice-cooked pork which the waitress described as "very tender" but wasn't really. It came as slices of slightly chewy (in a good way) pork belly that seem to have been braised or boiled/poached on their own first, and then stir fried with cabbage squares, dried red peppers, leek, and some kind of mild green chili pepper. Looked humble on the plate but was delicious and ended up being my favorite item of the dinner.

                                Xiao long bao with pork (no crab) were indeed thin-skinned as described by other posters. While the size of the dumplings were about the same in comparison to the ones at GDH, these somehow had more meat, more broth, and more flavor. The only downside to the thinness of the skins is that they are much more delicate to handle. The waitress brought out metal tongs to pick them up with but on two different tries the teeth of the tongs punctured the fragile dumplings, leading to the dreaded premature-spillage-of-broth-into-the-cheesecloth-on-the-bottom-of-the-bamboo-steamer scenario. This type of spillage is irrecoverable. I used my fingers to pick up the remaining dumplings for fear that I might spill more of the precious broth.

                                Last dish was some stir-fried snow pea pod stems which were a little underseasoned and a little overcooked, but no biggie. Overall, for about $35 before tax and tip, a super-satisfying meal.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Mike5966

                                  I'm glad I'm not the only one experiencing premature soup spillage with those XLB! I tried to use the tongs as well and broke the first dumpling ... then was more careful with the next. I thought they were very good, and yes, soupier than most I've had elsewhere in town.

                                  Also tried the crab and silk noodle hot pot -- that was a knockout dish for me. Almost impossible to get the little nuggets of meat out of the crab shells (at least in polite company) but the flavor had permeated the noodles and broth so much that it hardly mattered. The texture and flavor of those silky noodles was delightful.

                                  The salt and pepper fried pork chop was just okay. Much better, and more even fry jobs at Tawian Cafe and Mulan, for example. Still, Dumpling Cafe is worth more exploration -- the array of dishes on the other tables looked promising.

                                  1. re: yumyum

                                    I went with a group today so I could try more things. We had the crab and silk noodle hot pot today and concur with yumyum and others. Very tasty noodles and I wasn't worried about polite company re getting to the crab meat (think Darryl Hannah eating lobster in Splash). Also had the xlb (this time with crab meat) and the soup had an orangeish tinge but otherwise couldn't tell much difference that the xlb with pork. Also scallion pancake was good and a generous portion and the shrimp with edaname was tasty.

                                    1. re: gourmaniac

                                      I've gotta head back and try this crab and silk noodle hot pot. I am also intrigued by the other items marked as "Taiwan Style" such as the Taiwan Style Grilled Chicken Leg, Taiwan Style Noodle Soup w/Pork and Vegetables, and the Taiwan Style Braised Eggplant. So many things to try... possibly headed back there tonight.

                                  2. re: Mike5966

                                    I use the back of the tongs to loosen them, then slide the soup spoon under them.
                                    Take a small bite while holding spoon with one hand and holding dumpling with chopsticks in the other hand, then pour ginger sauce in through the whole. Try to place entire xlb in mouth for flavor explosion.
                                    xlb technique developed after many ruined ties.

                                    1. re: Mike5966

                                      As part of my attempt to get caught up on my backlog of Chinese eating, I stopped by for the twice-cooked preserved pork. Once again, the overall dish was quite nice, but the pork itself was a bit too gristle-y or skin-y for my taste. Interestingly, the dish had squares of smoked tofu in it, which is something I rarely encounter.

                                    2. went here yesterday around 3pm.

                                      the space is nice, new and clean. i understood what some people were saying about the slant to the floor but we were seated in the back half so it wasn't even noticeable.

                                      we started with the grilled duck tongues, chicken skin and chicken meatballs. the chicken skin while having a good flavor was pretty flabby with no discernible char, ask for this one to be Well Done. the duck tongues were OK but rather small. Taiwan Cafe's duck tongues are much larger and plumper making for a greater meat to cartilage/bone ratio. the meatballs were decent but would of benefited from some type of dipping sauce.

                                      for dumplings we got the juicy pork with crab, the beef with chive and the pork. all were very good but the juicy dumplings (aka XLB) arrived with most already being punctured which is one reason why i like my XLB with a thicker skin than most, i think Taiwan Cafe's are Spot-On.

                                      we also got the beef with long horn peppers and while packing a bit more heat than Taiwan Cafe's didn't have the level of flavor. an order of watercress with garlic was just OK. the greens went dull green rather quickly and the whole dish could of used a shot of vinegar or at least some salt.

                                      the rice was serviceable.

                                      we'll definitely be back to explore the menu a bit as it's pretty large.

                                      1. A few of us hit this place last week. We had the soup dumplings, crab and silk noodles hot pot and a flounder dish. All were delicious. We tried to order the preserved pork mid- meal but apparently the waitress didn't hear us.

                                        I had the Taiwanese hot sour soup to go for lunch yesterday and it was also a winner. As an aside, I tried to pick up a few taro rolls at Hing Shing; but they were closed til 9/30. So was Ho Yuen Bakery?...same sign..I never knew they were connected. Picked up an even better version at Great Taste.

                                        I really like the Dumpling Cafe and need several more trips to work through the menu, lots of interesting things.

                                        -----
                                        Great Taste
                                        201 Main St, Milford, MA 01757

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: 9lives

                                          Glad you liked it 9lives and ScubaSteve. I still need to try the Yakitori stuff at dumpling cafe. I prefer the XLB at Dumpling Cafe vs Taiwan Cafe because of the thinness of the skins but leakage is a potential hazard. Great Taste has my favorite version of taro rolls (woo gok) and I find Hing Shing's version to be heavy and greasy (though tasty). Other things I like on the bakery side of Great Taste are the big steamed bun (dai bao) and the sticky rice (lo mai faun).

                                          -----
                                          Great Taste
                                          201 Main St, Milford, MA 01757

                                          1. re: gourmaniac

                                            I liked the chicken meatballs and the duck tongues, but the "Grilled Chicken Teriyaki" which I was hoping would be similar to the preparation of the other two was definitely not. It ws dry and leathery, and also too salty. It comes out on a skewer but it is a totally different beast. On the other hand, "Taiwan Style Grilled Chicken Leg," which does not come on a skewer was an outstanding (and large) single piece of deep fried boneless dark meat chicken. Very crispy, perfect seasoning, tender and moist, delicious with the hot chili sauce.

                                            1. re: Mike5966

                                              On our visit they brought us the "Grilled Chicken Teriyaki" by mistake and since we didn't order it we sent it back. Glad we did now.

                                        2. My family hit this place on Sunday for dinner too and really enjoyed the meal. Had 3 orders of the XLB - 2 regular and 1 crab, one at the end of the meal when my 5 yr old niece insisted on more dumplings. I thought the filling was bit too meaty - would've preferred less filling, but I thought the soup and overall flavor were excellent. I also prefer the thin skins; it should take a deft hand to get the dumpling without spillage, and to be rewarded with a mouth scorched with the piping hot soup. I have the peeling roof of my mouth as proof of my dumpling clawing skills.

                                          We also started with scallion pancake and oyster pancake with gravy. The oyster pancake was only ok - the sauce was too sweet for my liking, and while the egg texture was good, I thought the oysters brought too much of an oceany taste. I wanted better balance.
                                          The scallion pancake was one of the best, if not THE best, rendition I've had in a long time. My pet peeve with scallion pancake is the over fried or deep fried preparation most places have. This scallion pancake was actually just lightly pan fried, and resembles an actual rich, tasty layered "pancake". If I had to nitpick, I would only ask for more scallion flavor.

                                          We then had the beef with long peppers, their 3 cup chicken (listed as 3 essence chix), the fish head clay pot, stir fried pea pod stems and their Taiwan style braised eggplant. Love the flavors and the kick to the beef with long peppers, though my parents found it a tad too spicy. It was just right for my taste, and the kick was a good complement to the rice. The egg plant and pea pod stems were well done and good, though perhaps nothing to write home about at the end of the meal. Everyone loved the taste of the 3 cup chicken, but we also found it a bit too boney (and we all grew up eating bone-in chicken). My last 3-cup anything was in Taiwan so perhaps an unfair comparison, but I really wanted a touch more basil and actual sauce to the dish, similar to the one I had in Taiwan.

                                          My biggest disappoint though was the fish head claypot, if only because my expectations were so high. The taste was decent, but it had no where near the depth of flavor the dish has at Taiwan Cafe. A good soup simmered for a long time packs a rich flavor -- this broth was weaker and seemed like a bit of a rush job. It also didn't have bean thread/vermicelli in it, which should be standard in claypots IMO. I was glad to see it still come in the mega-monster sized pot that feeds at least 5-6 ppl, but the dish is definitely better at Taiwan Cafe.

                                          All in all, still a great meal and no one felt like anything was to be avoided. Looking forward to going back and trying more things.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: kobuta

                                            I had a light dinner with a friend here tonight. We also had the XLB, regular, since I'm really allergic to crab (sob). And, I wasn't impressed. The skins were beautiful but the meat was too heavy and too meaty. Proportionally, there was something just off about it.

                                            We also ordered the scallion pancake and it was just ok. Clearly homemade, but underfried. Really underfried. It was very pale and no crispness. Because of time constraints, we didn't send it back. But, the sauce was delicious. One of the best dipping sauces I've had.

                                            The huge winner was the noodle soup. Snow cabbage and pork noodle soup with the shanghai noodles. The noodles were a work of beauty. Homemade and uneven in it's width. Perfectly toothsome and it soaked in the flavors of the delicious broth. The broth was meaty flavor without that fatty taste. It tasted like pork bones that had been simmered for a long period of time but then defatted. The perfect combo of flavor and richness. I would go back to try the different noodle soups and fried noodles with the shanghai noodles as the base (you get a choice).

                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                              The XLB with crab are indeed lighter in texture than the pure-pork ones. Those last night were very dense and just not quite right. I still think I prefer Taiwan Cafe's version, even with the thicker skins. The scallion pancake was very tasty but as Beetlebug said, very very lightly fried. I agree with Kobuta that the standard deep fried number at most places can be too greasy, but this was just too light. There must be a middle ground. That said, the fry job on their s&p pork chops wasn't great either, so maybe frying isn't their thing.

                                              The noodles, though. The noodles! We actually ordered D4, which is "Noodles with pork and special mustard greens" and the unevenly cut shanghai noodles were our first tip-off that these would be good. Very good. The broth was lovely, the noodles were the perfect texture, and the bowl as big as your head was $6.

                                              I hope more hounds will explore the menu. I think there is a lot of possibility here for greatness.

                                              1. re: yumyum

                                                I went yesterday. I thought the scallion pancakes didnt have enough scallion/scallion flavor

                                                KLB were good, especially for Boston but not as good as Joe's Shanghai in NYC. The skin punctured which was partly our fault. Also, the broth is not as good as Joe's. I will have to try the Crab ones though because I prefer them over the pork anyway. Not bad though!

                                                We had fried rice cakes which were good.
                                                Overall- 3/5 stars, 4/5 for Boston chinese food!

                                                1. re: tarohead

                                                  Went yesterday as well. Had the steamed veggie dumplings, braised tofu w/ scallions and veggies, seafood noodles soup. DC also had the pork XLB(pescatarian here).

                                                  The tofu dish was solid. Nothing extraordinary but give me that with some rice and I could eat that meal twice a week.

                                                  The seafood soup was huge with a good amount of seafood(shrimp, clams, fish, squid) but the broth was kinda plain to me. Its certainly not bad but I like some spice to my broth like the hot and sour wonton soup at Sichuan Gourmet. I put jalapeno or habanero into pretty much every soup I cook at home, including stuff like Minestrone.

                                                  Veggie dumplings were plain tasting as well. I liked the thinness of it and it still held together well but taste wise I prefer the veggie dumplings at Mulan or the ones I make at home.

                                                  DC loved the XLB. None of them ripped between the trip from steamer to mouth.

                                                  Good service, nice space. Would go again.

                                                  -----
                                                  Sichuan Gourmet
                                                  1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                                  1. re: tarohead

                                                    Boston Chinese food now includes several REALLY good Sichuan options, good enough that we might once again have better Sichuan than NYC does (they keep opening new places down there, though, and some of them, like "Wa Jeal" are very good.)

                                                2. re: beetlebug

                                                  This definitely is where expectations differ on scallion pancake. I had never ever had crispy scallion pancake until I had them at restaurants in Boston. All previous versions were homemade, or elsewhere, and they are always this light. I think crispy scallion pancakes are just wrong - sorry!

                                              2. Was at Dumpling Cafe tonight - agree with the assessments on the pork xiao long bao (very densely porky, great soup and delicate skins) and oyster pancake (the right amount of crispy and soft, with a not-too-sweet sauce but not enough oysters!). Also ordered chao nian gao (stir fried rice cake), which was great. The rice cakes were a little soft but other than that everything was flavored exactly how my grandma used to make it. My DC got a bowl of beef noodles, but things kinda fell down there. The noodles were great, the best I've had in Boston beef noodles, I wouldn't be surprised if they were hand-made, but the broth was dilute, bland and boring. No spice, no anise, just eh (Shangri-La in Belmont is still my favorite, since I like star anise). The beef was tough and not very balanced (pieces were either all tendon or all meat, and none of them tender). Not a bad addition to Chinatown, though.

                                                1. I finally got to try this place today for lunch. Problem is, it was just me and there were so many items I wanted to try!

                                                  In the end, I got the pork XLB, and appetizer A17 called "Steamed Taiwan style meatball with gravy". I'm not too familiar with taiwanese snacks, so I don't know if it came out authentic or not. The meatball is one gooey mess (in a good way). It's actually a big glob of gelatinous stuff, with diced pork and diced shiitake mushrooms in the inside.

                                                  As for the pork XLB, I like the thin skins. I didn't even bother with the tongs - it's much safer to pick them up with chopsticks and soup spoon. Flavor was good but a bit too salty for me. And I agree w/others about the pork filling being too dense.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: y2000k

                                                    We were there there today about 1PM...pork/crab xlb, Taiwanese fried dumplings...kidney in seasame, bitter melon, and double cooked pork. We enjoyed it all; though I've never been a fan of bitter melon,Kidney..outstanding! I think their thin skinned xlb is best in CTown.

                                                    That meatball sounds good..next time.

                                                    We hit Q Pot after; another report that I'l do.

                                                    1. re: y2000k

                                                      Gave Dumpling Cafe a second visit in under a week, this time for solo dinner. I had a bowl of noodle soup this time (D4: noodle soup with mustard greens and beef). Since there was a choice of noodles, I picked the white Shanghai noodles.

                                                      I'm afraid to say that it was rather disappointing. It was bland-tasting, even the preserved mustard greens don't have its usual pungency. The broth was bland, and the white Shanghai noodles were too soft, not chewy at all.

                                                      Did all of you get the Taiwanese (yellow) noodles? Perhaps that's better?

                                                      I don't think I'll be going back for solo dining; but I wouldn't mind returning if I'm with a bigger crowd so that we can try some other dishes on the menu.

                                                      1. re: y2000k

                                                        i tried the noodle soup with pork chop, it was extremely bland, and the taiwan noodles (which worked well on another occasion as a foil for the sauce in their jia jiang mein) did not help the soup.

                                                        1. re: y2000k

                                                          I also agree on the noodles (and rice plates) that they are disappointing. I went with a group and enjoyed ordering snacks. xlb (great as always), seafood dumplings, jellyfish (not enough sesame oil), taiwanese grilled chicken leg (excellent but fried not grilled), peapod stems in garlic sauce (fine), and scallion pancake (good).

                                                          1. re: y2000k

                                                            I once ordered the same bowl of noodles (D4: Noodle Soup with Mustard Greens and Beef) based on the waitress' recommendation. I agree the broth was a little bland, but we got it with the Taiwanese noodles which were chewy and just right. Overall, I still enjoyed the dish, and for barely $6 it hit the spot for me on a cold afternoon, late in the day after having skipped lunch.

                                                            I think having a good noodle soup on the menu is of critical importance when I am deciding whether I can go to a place in Chinatown solo or not. I'd have a hard time ordering XLB without wanting to order two other things off the menu I can't finish to round it out.

                                                            1. re: y2000k

                                                              That's too bad about the noodle soup. I haven't been back since my earlier visit (post above) but that bowl of noodle soup was the highlight. Pork and mustard greens with the shanghai noodles. The broth was so good that night. Very rich and full of flavor. I wonder why the discrepancies. Maybe luck of the draw as to when they make the broths?

                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                Now that I'm thinking about it, I had a different noodle soup. It wasn't mustard greens, it was snow cabbage with the shredded pork. Xue cai rou si mien. Shouldn't make a difference on the broths though.

                                                              2. re: y2000k

                                                                I had nearly the same soup yesterday - the one w/ pork & mustard greens, and agree with everything you said (although I had the taiwan noodles). It wasn't bad, but wish it had more flavor. Also, it was nuclear hot and my mouth is still burned from it :)

                                                            2. I've been having a strong dumpling craving lately and finally managed to get here this week with a friend. We had: soup dumplings with pork, grilled chicken skin, shrimp pancake with gravy, mustard greens with tofu and edamame.

                                                              The soup dumplings were very good but not quite as filled with broth as others seem to have experienced. Relatively thin skins, very tasty broth and meat. I didn't notice the meat being too firm as others have noted, but maybe that's just how I like them; my XLB experiences are limited. These weren't quite as good as the ones I had several months ago at Jo Jo Tai Pei, but still excellent.
                                                              The grilled chicken skin was great - mindful of the advice above, I asked for extra-crispy, and the texture was excellent - not really crispy except for the very edges, but perfectly chewy-tender, without that gross bouncy mouthfeel of undercooked chicken skin. I now want to have every grilled thing that they do.
                                                              The shrimp pancake was kind of a loser for me, but my friend LOVED it. I liked the crispy edges and some of the scrambled-eggy center, but otherwise it was too greasy and had way too much gooey rice-flour pancake-batter texture in the middle for me. My ideal would be both more crispy and cooked through, and less greasy (maybe just better drained after cooking), but the Taiwanese ideal for this dish and mine may not coincide.
                                                              We ordered the mustard greens and tofu to have some green complement to all the meat and fried food - the edamame aren't mentioned on the menu but I should have realized that it's basically the same dish as at Taiwan Cafe; not exactly what I was hoping for. That said, it was a good version, but somehow just less delicious than the one at TC - less savory sauce, not enough mustard greens, not quite as nice a texture on the tofu skins.

                                                              In any case, I'll definitely be back for that grilled menu and more soup dumplings, and to try some of the other dishes people have recommended.

                                                              1. Decided to try this place for lunch today and optimistly went looking for on street parking but had finally to give up and pay for parking. I had the Twice Cooked Preserved Pork and this is how it should be done, twice cooked pork belly, not sure what the preservation adds but it had a nice firm texture. Cabbage and leeks added a nice crunch and the Halapenos added a nice bit of heat. The smoked tofu was also nice and I even did eat the tofu. The sauce wasn't your normal brown glop but a tangy, glossy bean paste and chile sauce.

                                                                http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                                                                 
                                                                1. Travel & Leisure called Gourmet Dumpling House one of America's best Chinese restaurants today. I still prefer Dumpling Cafe, and the lines at GDH aren't getting any shorter now. Hit DC for lunch, decided to revisit the Szechuan-style flounder question again. It definitely doesn't pack the heat of the GDH version, but it does indeed have a decent hit of Sichuan peppercorns (sorta visible in pic).

                                                                  Those "best X in the US" lists are always stupid, with a lot of obviously second-hand research. One of the 26 places listed was Lexington's Taipei Gourmet, which wasn't even on my radar.

                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                   
                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                    I have the same opinion on DC vs GDH on the Szechuan style fish. I tried Fuloon's version (see pic) this week and I've never had so many Szechuan peppercorns in a dish, but it was neither overbearing nor numbing. Definitely a contender with the Chinatown spots.

                                                                     
                                                                    1. re: croutonweb

                                                                      How are the peking rav's at fuloon? They look pretty good based on your picture.

                                                                        1. re: joth68

                                                                          I tried one. It was pretty good. Thick skin with a good filling. The dipping sauce that they came with was a bit too intensely soy. I think that normally the ginger soy sauce that comes with them at other places is somewhat diluted. This tasted like straight up full-salt soy sauce with some ginger.

                                                                          1. re: joth68

                                                                            I like the Peking Ravioli at Fuloon, but they do add a touch of spices to the filling (not sure if it's five spices or just star anise) which makes them a bit non-traditional. Love the skin and the crunch though...

                                                                        2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                          I absolutely love the velvety texture of that flounder dish, but I always think it needs a little more heat and, weirdly, salt. Even still, it's near the top of the non-rotating portion of my list of must-haves at DC.

                                                                          I need to try Taipei Gourmet. Brother-in-law lives out there and it would be nice to have a solid...anything nearby.

                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                            Dumpling Cafe is very much underrated, imo.

                                                                          2. Tremendous meal at Dumpling Cafe tonight. Superb chilled pickled cucumbers with a slow chile burn, crispy grilled slices of a sweet hot Chinese sausage, the best roast beef in scallion pancake I've ever had, steamed beef and cabbage dumplings and fried Taiwan style dumplings. All of them were amazing. I really don't know why we don't get over there more often.

                                                                            23 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                              So love this place, maybe my favorite in Chinatown.

                                                                              I forced my food-timid college-freshman nephew to meet me there late after Boston Calling with the express purpose of making him sample pork XLB and a few other essential dishes. Roast beef scallion pancakes served yet again as a reliable part of my proselytizing arsenal. I can count at least five friends who are still going back there without me just for that dish.

                                                                              My nephew's resistance crumbled: he ate and ate. I hope and pray that's a seminal nudge down the Chowhound path. The chicken meatballs (pictured) were an order I hadn't made before: it was an unqualified hit.

                                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                               
                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                Yes, my friends from Taiwan all prefer Dumpling Cafe over Gourmet Dumping House. One of my favorites beef noodle soup in Boston is Dumpling Cafe's spicy shredded beef w long horn peppers noodle soup. Must try!

                                                                                1. re: Torolover

                                                                                  What kind of noodles do you prefer with this soup? I never know which to choose.

                                                                                  1. re: youngho

                                                                                    I'm not sure since they usually just give me the soup with the noodles without asking me what I want. I know it not's rice noodle or flat noodle. Maybe ask them what noodle they usually put in the soup, but it's a huge bowl for less then $8!

                                                                                    1. re: Torolover

                                                                                      Thanks, helps to rule out rice or flat noodle. Also, not udon, of course. That only leaves Taiwan and Shanghai noodle.

                                                                                2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                  Oh,man. It turns out that both Jenny Ondioline and I glanced at those chicken meatballs on the menu but decided we had enough items already. Next time!

                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                    The secret to the roast beef scallion pancake is that the sauce, which is usually just hoisin, is much more complex and flavorful than that.

                                                                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                      Clearly I need to try this place again. :-/

                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                      One of my favorite places in Chinatown right now. I don't know why it doesn't seem to get the love that Gourmet Dumpling seems to have, with lines out the door all the time. Although, I've noticed it's gotten more crowded recently than it used to be. Those chicken meatballs are a must have dish whenever I go.

                                                                                      1. re: mwk

                                                                                        Only anecdotal observation, but I see more customers of Asian ancestry at DC, more of European ancestry at GDH. I reviewed GDH early on for the Phoenix. The Andelmans featured it, too. Maybe more coverage in English-language media means more white customers. DC seems plenty busy without lines out the door, so I'm happy with the situation.

                                                                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                          Maybe no lines out the door, but they were full when we arrived on Friday around 8 PM - we snagged the last open table - and I don't think there were any empty tables when we left.

                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                            I eat lunch at Dumpling Café pretty regularly and sometimes I am the only non-Asian customer...

                                                                                          2. re: mwk

                                                                                            Yes, it's definitely busier than when it first opened. We used to go more often back when it was new, but there were many times it was just us and one or two other tables filled. I'm glad, because busy means successful, means it will hopefully stick around.

                                                                                          3. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                            Those meatballs look amazing. I think I'll have to try them tomorrow. Thanks!

                                                                                            1. re: sekelmaan

                                                                                              Yep, those meatballs were awesome. I didn't think they would be that awesome. I think they were braised crispy in soy sauce. Salty and crispy and juicy. Killah.

                                                                                              Also we had the chicken with eggplant which is another excellent dish.

                                                                                              Stuffed.

                                                                                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                              Do you remember if those were the "braised chicken meat balls" or "grilled chicken meat ball teriyaki"? I'm going soon with some children and think they would like this...but don't want to order the wrong one.

                                                                                            3. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                              Is the scallion pancake (with roast beef) deep fried? And what are the fried Taiwan style dumplings?

                                                                                              1. re: taterjane

                                                                                                The scallion pancake is cooked in the same way every scallion pancake I've ever eaten has been cooked, but I have no idea how that is.

                                                                                                Fried Taiwan-style dumplings are meat-filled dumplings, in more of a cylindrical than half-moon shape, and pan-fried. Close cousin to potstickers, basically.

                                                                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                  Thank you for the explanation.

                                                                                                  Re: scallion pancakes- sometimes they are lightly fried (they look mostly white, I assume they're pan fried) but I think at jojo taipei they are deep fried because they basically look dark brown all over.

                                                                                                  Admittedly, they still taste pretty good deep fried, but I'm not as crazy about that bite of oil.

                                                                                                  1. re: taterjane

                                                                                                    I made some not to long ago (Joanne Chang made them on an episode of Neighborhood kitchens) and they were pan fried, and came out pretty authentically, so I suspect that's how most are done.

                                                                                                     
                                                                                                2. re: taterjane

                                                                                                  The scallion pancake is rolled in a pinwheel around a filling of sliced roast beef, so it's pan-fried but definitely not deep-fried - it couldn't bend enough to wrap if it were!

                                                                                                  The Taiwan style dumplings are kind of like potstickers in their filling, but to my mind with a heavy doze of Japanese gyoza in the equation (which are, after all, the Japanese interpretation of potstickers.) "Taiwan style" can often also mean that the wrapper is not fully sealed, but open on either end of the cylinder. I honestly can't remember whether the Dumpling Cafe version is like that or not. I just ate them up yum.

                                                                                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                                    Thank you both for the clarifications. You'd think that I would know more, being Taiwanese, but I often have trouble going from my mental picture of a food dish to the English translation. I probably should start memorizing the Chinese characters for things other than xiao long bao.

                                                                                              2. I eat lunch 3-4 times a month at GDH, occasional dinners when working late.
                                                                                                To get a seat at lunch you have to go at 11:30 am at the latest, or wait till past 1pm. Lunch time is mostly asian people, students, families, Medical and Finance professionals. Non-Asians rarely order some of the more interesting dishes mentioned here. (General Gau's, Sesame Chicken etc). I get a lot of "What's that?"
                                                                                                questions.

                                                                                                They offer 3 dishes for $21 deal common in Chinatown. It's nice to share for 2/3 hungry people + apps.

                                                                                                my favs:
                                                                                                any dish with mustard greens, bamboo tips, or watercress, preserved eggs w/tofu, fried chitlins, spicy tendon, pig ear/feet, tripe, eel, longhorn peppers soup, taiwanese sausage, taiwanese dumplings (open ends), noodle dishes. Fish has been inconsistent at times.

                                                                                                Tip in cash even if you use a card.

                                                                                                I've seen Dan Andelman there a few times, not PG related.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Seamus7

                                                                                                  The reason why I pretty much refuse to set foot in Gourmet Dumpling House anymore is that the one time I went, there was an unmistakable ammonia funk coming from the crab XLB. Nope.

                                                                                                2. Ate lunch there today and it was very subpar. Hopefully they will get back on their game!

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                    What did you have? I had a terrific dinner there just last week (see Jenny Ondioline's post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7324...) and sekelmaan also ate there today (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7324...) and seems to have been quite happy.

                                                                                                    1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                                      Shared:

                                                                                                      Pork and crab dumplings
                                                                                                      Hot and Sour Soup
                                                                                                      Chicken with garlic sauce lunch special
                                                                                                      Dry bean curd lunch special
                                                                                                      String bean lunch special

                                                                                                      All stuff I've eaten there before and liked.

                                                                                                      With the exception of the soup dumplings (which were very good) all the other items tasted very different from how they usually do. The soup had so much cornstarch in it you could stand your spoon it it. It is usually a pretty good rendition of one of my favorite dishes but not today.

                                                                                                      Chicken and string bean dishes tasted oddly sweet. Tofu was blander than usual.

                                                                                                      I have run across this phenomenon at other Chinese places and theorize that it's new folks cooking the food. Often times these places revert back to form.

                                                                                                      Looks like I have to order the meatballs and get there after work to order off the dinner menu.

                                                                                                      1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                        That's really unfortunate - I'm sorry you had a disappointing meal. It's so frustrating, especially when others are raving about a place!

                                                                                                        1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                                          Yeah. It was frustrating. But I'll be back. Now that I work close to Chinatown I've been sampling the lunch fare from a lot of places and DC is a favorite.

                                                                                                          @gordough

                                                                                                          I eat there alone all the time. Its fine for that. But don't be surprised if you have to share a four-top with strangers.

                                                                                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                            Yes, even as a twosome last Friday we shared a four-top (I was mildly surprised that they didn't split up the two tables into deuces, but whatever.)

                                                                                                        2. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                          Is this the kind of place one could comfortably dine alone in during off peak times? I would love to go for a late lunch one day but not sure I can convince any of my co-workers to join me.

                                                                                                          1. re: Gordough

                                                                                                            I think so. It's pretty informal in there.

                                                                                                      2. Stopped in here for lunch today and had the pork xlb and the pork/mustard green noodle. Both had very good flavor.

                                                                                                        The one thing about those xlb: while mine were tasty and quite juicy, the kitchen erred way on the side of caution when it came to burstage abatement. The skins are noticeably thicker than just about any xlb I've had in the Bay Area. This is not as big a crime to me as it is to many, but if you are a stickler about this, it's something to be aware of.

                                                                                                        1. I was there today; almost 4 years to the day from my above post. Not my only visit in those 4 years.

                                                                                                          Taiwaness pan fried dumpling and kidney w/black bean sauce..both superb.

                                                                                                          1. All these recent comments made me want to return for a quick dinner tonight with a friend. I'm glad I did. It reminded me how much I love their XLB, and I'm happy to say that I find the filling lighter and better now (none of the dense-ness as when they first opened). We mainly shared a bunch of appetizers, most of which were good (bitter melon with garlic, crispy chicken, grilled saury). The only dish that was meh was their version of fuqi feipian. I enjoy it when done well, but this was not nearly spicy enough and was overly beefy. I wanted more of the offal.

                                                                                                            I can't convince my family to venture out to Chinatown much anymore, but I hope I can get them back here to enjoy this place more.