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Dumpling Kitchen [San Francisco]

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There is, I believe, a new Shanghai-style dumpling restaurant that has opened on Taraval Street near to Kingdom of Dumpling.
Dumpling Kitchen
1935 Taraval St
415-682-8938
http://www.letseat.at/dumplingkitchen...
I wasn't able to find any reports on this board. Has anyone tried it?

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  1. Have you looked on Yelp? Yes the reviews there can be suspect but for a general sense it should tell you if it's worth trying.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ML8000

      Sure, but typically I rely on Chowhound for more reliable restaurant information. If I have to look at Yelp, I may as well forget Chowhound altogether. But I'd rather not do that. That said, has anyone here tried Dumpling Kitchen?

    2. Checking in to see if anyone has a first-mouth report for Dumpling Kitchen yet. Here's JK on the xiao long bao.
      http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2010...

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      Dumpling Kitchen
      1935 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

      1 Reply
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I went to Dumpling Kitchen during the holidays after I noticed JK's post on SFoodie. The place was kind of crowded, but not as crowded as Kingdom of Dumpling up the street. They must get a lot of Kingdom's overflow. Also, Dumpling Kitchen has a lot of big round tables, so smaller groups or couples might end up having to wait for the few two-tops.

        As for the food, the menu seems to be a mix of Shanghai style food and Cantonese dishes because there were a lot more variety of entrees in the chicken, seafood, and vegetarian categories than I've seen in other dumpling restaurants (which I typically equate to mostly dumplings, potstickers, pancakes and noodles). Most of the servers spoke primarily Cantonese so I think DK is influenced more by Cantonese chefs than Northern Chinese chefs, but this is all conjecture.

        I ordered the xiao lung bao, and you get 10 for $6, which seems like a good deal. The form was decent, maybe not as pretty as other places but still a nice thin wrapper. But what really surprised me was the soup broth inside. It had an unusual flavor that seemed different than usual, much more floral or fragrant. I really enjoyed that part of it. The filling was nice too, a good pork mixture and not densely packed.

        My friend and I also ordered the stir-fried rice cakes, and this is just like chow fun to me except shorter rice noodles instead of the long wide noodles. Apparently rice cakes are used often in Korean noodle dishes? Anywho, they were nicely cooked in a pork/vegetable stir-fry and didn't feel greasy, which can be a problem. We also got a plate of green beans that says it was dry-braised, so the green beans looked very naturally with just specks of salty bits, not sure what they were. Could have been a fermented bean or anchovy or something like that. But it wasn't the typical oyster sauce drenched veggies. Again, very nicely cooked with a real freshness from the kitchen.

        All the prices seem to be under $10 so it seems like a good value place. I haven't tried Kingdom of Dumplings to compare, but I would go back for the xiao lung bao and maybe try some of the other dumplings like the crab meat ones or pork and chives. Plus with the extended menu, there's something for everyone.

        http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/201...

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        Kingdom of Dumpling
        1713 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA

        Dumpling Kitchen
        1935 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

      2. We tried the Family Dinner tonight for $28: hot and sour soup, vegetarian goose (they let us sub for drunken chicken), xiao long bao (6), dry fried wings/drumsticks, shanghai noodles (can chose stir fried rice cakes, nin gao), fried dough with sugar. It's meant to feed 2-3 people, it's a lot of food. The XLB have nice, thin wrappers. I'll be back for those for sure...maybe a Sunset dumpling crawl is in order. XLB from here, boiled dumplings from Kingdom of Dumpling on the next block....and Beijing Restaurant on Irving Street.

        Dumpling Kitchen is bright and clean, the wait staff very sweet to my kids. Everything came our promptly. There were only 3 tables at 6:30 on a Tues. evening (they are closed on Wednesdays).

        I find King of Dumpling on the next block a little claustrophobic. I tend to buy their dumplings from their store on Noriega and boil them myself at home. At $6.95 for a bag of 22 dumplings, that's a good deal.

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        Kingdom of Dumpling
        1713 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA

        Dumpling Kitchen
        1935 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

        3 Replies
        1. re: JadeM

          I just tried the Dumpling Kitchen recently. The XLB is pretty good, maybe second to KOD in the city. The skin is slightly tougher than KOD's. The soup broth is tasty with a strong hint of ginger (I think). Since I was alone and had to eat all 10 of them, the later ones were cooled off and maybe that affected the texture of the skin. But the real find is their pan fried dumpling (Shen jian bao). A lot of places have them, but they are usually too big and under fried on the bottom. Dumpling Kitchen has them almost right. The skin is fluffy. The bottom is close to perfectly browned and crispy. The filling is juicy, almost soupy. This is my favorite shanghai dim sum, and theirs are the best I have tasted so far in SF. I didn't get to try the rest of their Shanghainese menu. But they definitely have a bigger selection of dim sum and entree than KOD. It is a good alternative than KOD when dumplings alone won't hit the spot or waiting for that party of six eating chow fun is getting on your nerves.

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          Dumpling Kitchen
          1935 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

          1. re: hedge_hog

            Lunch yesterday was very satisfying. The Shanghai-style rice cake noodles were the highlight for me, probably the best rendition I've had here in the bay area with plenty of savory wok hay. The XLB had tasty filling, that was "just right" for my friend who lived in Shanghai for 3 years, but the skins were drier/tougher than I would have liked, probably because our batch seemed to have cooled off a bit before we were served. Our shen jian bao were delicious, like you say a nice size and well-crisped bottom, but they weren't quite as juicy as you describe. Still, very tasty. We also got an order of Shanghai-style green onion pancake, which was new to me. This was actually a pancake type batter that was fluffy, rather than the oily flaky pan-fried "cake" that is more common around here. It was fine, wouldn't rush here for it, but it complemented the rest of the meal nicely as a bit of filler and was a great conduit for chili sauce. The vegetarian goose was really quite good--substantial, well-formed, and delicately flavored. Not too strong a mushroom flavor, but a nice deep savoriness, and it was a large serving that almost looked like a slab of goose breast. The waitress tried to get us to order more food, but this was just the right amount for 4 after we ordered the sweet fried sesame buns, with condensed milk dipping sauce. Total with a generous tip was $40 for 4.

            1. re: hedge_hog

              Thanks hedge_hog for an outstanding recommendation! The shen jian bao was as good as I had in Shanghai! They were tender skinned, with delicate, juicy pork filling, perfectly flavored - no additional soy sauce needed. Sprinkled sesame seeds adorned the top. Shen jian bao is hard to find and to have a local place that makes it with mastery is a gift. On the menu, shen jian bao is #4, Shanghai-style pan-fried pork buns.

              Thanks Steve G for your outstanding recommendation for rice cake noodles. I ordered the second of the 2 rice cake dishes. This was #33 Pork with preserved vegetable stir-fried rice cakes. I think the vegetable was mustard greens. I didn't detect wok hay, unfortunately, but I'd still eagerly order them again. The rice cake texture was spot on and the pork was flavorful. I personally would have added a lot more vegetables to make the dish more assertive and healthier.

              The waitresses and staff were friendly and helpful (I asked which dish was Shen jiao bao in English). My friend and I enjoyed a long conversation and although the restaurant was humming with lunch customers, we were not rushed.

              Remember the restaurant is closed on wednesdays!

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              Dumpling Kitchen
              1935 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

          2. I have to dissent on Dumpling Kitchen, which I visited to check out the xiaolong bao and shengjian bao in late December, shortly after Jonathan Kauffman's review raised my hopes.

            The best part of the meal was the reasonable prices ($6.00 for ten XLB and $5.50 for eight SJB). However, the xiaolong bao were something of a disappointment, oversized and sloppy in construction. The skins were supple enough, and the minced pork filling of the right texture, but the essential "soup " was characterless and oddly sweet. In addition, the vinegar dipping sauce appeared to have been cut with soy sauce. They may be the equal of the XLB at Kingdom of Dumplings, but for what it's worth, I'd peg them at no better than fourth in SF, behind Shanghai Dumpling King, Shanghai House, and Bund Shanghai's XLB.

            The shengjian bao were also a disappointment. To use an Irish Bull, I'd say they weren't as good as I expected, but then I didn't expect they would be. Compared to street food-worthy shengjian bao in Shanghai, they were undercooked on the bottoms, and seriously lacking in fatty broth. This seems to be almost universally the case in the US, where apparently SJB are treated as if they were supposed to be healthy eats, instead of the drizzle-down-the-chin fat bombs they are meant to be.

            Dumpling Kitchen also continued what to me is a shengjian bao mystery. In Shanghai, all the notable shengjian bao venues (including Xiao Yang's) currently fry them with the pleated side down, whereas in the US they seem to be always fried with the flat sides down.

            -----
            Shanghai House
            3641 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

            Shanghai Dumpling King
            3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

            Kingdom of Dumpling
            1713 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA

            Bund Shanghai
            640 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA

            Dumpling Kitchen
            1935 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

            1 Reply
            1. re: soupçon

              To answer my own question, I subsequently learned from this video featuring Shanghai's most noted foodie Shen Hongfei, that frying shengjian bao with the top down is Suzhou style, while frying them on the bottoms is traditional Shanghai style. (Approximately the 21:24 mark). Be that as it may, the "Suzhou" style dominates today, including at the iconic Xiao Yang's.

              http://goo.gl/Dc3P9

            2. We had great dumplings here last night. Also ordered the cilantro beef soup, which was not the best idea (it wasn't bad, just bland). Egg puffs were good too. I asked about the "Change of Ownership" sign in the window and they explained that it was just for the liquor license, which they haven't gotten yet.
              We were one of four tables at prime dinner hour on a Tuesday. I hope they get the business they need to stick around.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Mola

                Soupcon, I grew up in Shanghai and can vouch that traditionally, shengjian is done with the flat side down. Though you're right, in recent trips to Shanghai I have seen them done both ways. Food trends do change.

                1. re: donnaaries

                  I had some great ones in Hong Kong recently and they did their with the flat side down like Soupcon described in U.S.

              2. I finally got there for lunch today and can't wait to go again.
                I got the Shanghai-style pan-fried pork buns and the Wontons in chili oil.
                The owner (woman) who works the front of house told me that the chef (man, also co-owner) is the brother of the owner of Shanghai Dumpling King and worked there for two years. She also mentioned that he cooked at Koi Palace for some time.

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                Koi Palace Restaurant
                365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

                Shanghai Dumpling King
                3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                1. Went again for lunch, this time with Mrs. Wineguy. We went at about 2PM Tuesday and it was surprisingly busy at that hour. We got the Shanghai-style pan-fried pork buns and the Wontons in chili oil - both were great again. This time the sauce for the wontons seemed to be a bit tangy. Also got the Pea Shoots with Garlic as well as the Shanghai-style chow mein. The pea shoots order was huge and wonderfully fresh tasting. I loved the caramelized whole cloves of garlic. The noodles were definitely home made, unevenly shaped and had great texture. The dish seemed a little sweet - but still good. I Love this place and will continue to go there.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wineguy7

                    Glad you liked it. Shanghainese food definitely includes a range of sweetness in many of the savory dishes that can be surprising.

                  2. Finally made it out there, I tried Dumpling Kitchen with some friends on Monday for lunch.

                    Reports of sheng jian bao was the motivation but sadly, these were disappointing. Even more so because I think that they could be so much better with a little extra care. The fried bottoms were barely golden brown and would have benefited from more time on the fire to build up a crust. The buns were mushy and soaked through, making me think that they'd been prepared ahead of time and then sat around while whatever juices got absorbed. Also the buns were decidely sugary with a sweetness that was out of place. I don't know if it's possible to request that these be made from scratch to order but that might account for the differences reported here.

                    Crab and pork XLB had little in the way of crab but the shellfish did add an extra sweetness to the soupy filling. Delicate ultra-thin wrappers pleated with precision, these did not seem overly large to me. These were my favorite at the table.

                    Pork dumplings in chili oil (hong you shui jiao) did not have enough spice for me and the red oil bath seemed rather simple. But the dumplings themselves were quite good with a thin enough wrapper that I first questioned whether these were handmade. Their resilience and bite convinced me that they were and they are indeed just a shade thicker than commercial machine wrappers. I took the rest home with me, and coincidentally, could compare them to some spicy shui jiao leftovers from Panda Dumpling. DK's won that match up handily, and the extra couple hours of steeping in the oil brought out more complexity. Sesame oil, vinegar, chili oil, white pepper, garlic . . . deliciousness.

                    Last dish, deep-fried Beijing style sweet buns (mantoh) served with sweetened condensed milk dipping sauce were okay. Barely golden, a little more color and crispness would suit me better.

                    Also wanted to mention that besides the dumplings and small eats shown on the online menu, DK also has a full menu of stir-fries and other dishes listed by ingredient (e.g., seafood, chicken) and lunch specials.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      whoa, sorry Melanie, to hear this downbeat experience. I've been fortunate that every time I order sheng jian bao at DK, the bottoms are golden to dark brown, and never sweet. I'm wondering whether they had substitute chefs in the kitchen on Monday.

                      1. re: elise h

                        Could be, maybe chef's Monday off syndrome strikes again.

                    2. Figured as an obsessive XLB fan who first started going to Shanghai Dumpling King two owners ago, I could pipe in and at least explain what I know. Original SDK owner now runs Shanghai Dumpling Shop in Millbrae. Second owner of SDK (who cooked during their ascendancy, their appearance on KQED's Check Please, etc.) sold three years ago, and because of a non-compete clause had to leave SF and now runs a Shanghai Dumpling King in...Houston. Don't despair. His brother, who shared cooking duties at SDK, is now the chef at Dumpling Kitchen.
                      What really matters though, is...how ARE the dumplings?! IMHO the ones at Dumping Kitchen are possibly better, and certainly more consistent, than they were back at SDK. More delicate skins, abundant juice, good balance of flavor. I miss some other menu items from SDK (bok choy and tofu skin, bean thread noodles with preserved vegetables...) but I went back twice under new ownership and just wasn't impressed so haven't been back. I'm very happy with DK, love their spicy fish soup, pea shoots, and iron-pot bacon rice. It's definitely one of our go-to family restaurants.
                      On the topic of sheng jian bao (pan-fried dumplings), last I checked the chef had returned from his trip to China and had successfully sourced the ginormous pans that are required to cook these properly. Alas, he's still working on getting enough fire power UNDER the pans to be able to make the real deal. SF permitting issues. sigh. They're on the menu, they're not bad, but they're not what you get in Shanghai.
                      Sorry for the long post!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: dosankosan

                        can you illuminate what's special about the pan?

                        1. re: elise h

                          I can't explain the physics behind it, but the pan is always a very large, shallow pan with a wooden lid. The pliers used to rotate the pan on the fire are de rigeur, too. Here's an excellent video on how they are cooked, though you may want to fast forward through the first 2.5 minutes it takes the chef to carefully fill the pan with 92(!) baozi.

                          http://youtu.be/Gzkn8cDksuc

                        2. re: dosankosan

                          Mmm, would love to get some good sheng jian bao. I remember the ones I tried had doughy bun texture, probably from the soup soaking into it too long. Hopefully it'll improve if they get more fire power.

                          1. re: dosankosan

                            Any updates on this?

                            1. re: dosankosan

                              They've been closed for a few weeks and re-opened this weekend. I inquired about whether they use a special pan for the the sheng jian bao (pan-fried dumplings) and was told they used the "normal pan." I'd not referred back to this post, so it's possible I just didn't ask the question right.

                              Good news is that the sheng jian bao were great tonight (a Sunday). They were clearly made to order.

                              These don't have any soup inside, and they're fried pleat side up and topped with raw sliced scallions and sesame seeds. Sorry, soupçon! Bottoms were about as thick as a good pot sticker, and were browned just enough to give a nice crunch on the outside without the meatball-seat losing its elasticity. The tops had a good chew, and overall this leavened dough tasted good but was wrapped inconsistently across the ten dumplings. Meat had a nice flavor and the quantity was well proportioned to the size of the buns.

                               
                               
                            2. Mrs. Wineguy and I have been going here regularly every 10-14 days for lunch and once in a while for dinner. We always seem to have to order Pan Fried Pork Buns, Wontons in Chili Oil, and/or Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings. Some optional items we like and regularly order are Stir Fried Rice Cakes, Shanghai Chow Mein, Soft Tofu with preserved vegetables, Pea Shoots, String Beans, Twice cooked pork belly with leeks and the dried tofu with peppers dish (I don't know what it is really called but it is at the bottom of the vegetables portion of the menu). Last night we ordered the small version of the braised pork butt. It was a big, bone-in portion of shoulder and delicious and will easily feed six people and will make great leftovers to go with football this weekend. The soy based braise sauce was quite salty and it was nice to have the spinach that comes on the platter. The pork melted on the tongue and we will definitely order it again. I can only imagine what the larger version entails.