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Sep 6, 2010 10:47 AM

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.

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

              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.

                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"
                  Winsor calls them "house mini steamed pork buns"

                  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.


                    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.