Dumpling Cafe overview
This place is said to have some of the best XLB in town, and 'hounds that I admire also speak highly their live-tank seafood preparations. Their menu is long and compelling, and for this rundown I'm going to branch out from their well-established strengths and see what they've got in the wheelhouse.
And I have to be honest: everything about this restaurant says "awesome" *except* most of the food, which--for me--is usually in the "pretty decent" range or slightly below. I'll walk you through some menu items I've tried and the grade they've received once wiggling down my gizzard.
(Note: earplugs can't hurt if you're going at off-peak hours: they often play deafening, frantic K-Pop to ensure quickened eating, indigestion and feelings of helplessness.)
Braised Yellow Fish with Brown Sauce
I see this scrawny creature in my dreams and wet the bed.
Simmered Crab with Silk Noodles Hot Pot
One of their better efforts: crab parts lazing on some mild, brown-flavored silk noodles with minced garlic and veg.
Roast Marinated Bean Curd
"Roast" in what sense? This is simply that tofurkey loaf from the fridge section at the C-Mart across the street, sliced and garnished with green onions.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers
A pleasant impaled-prawn appetizer
Sauteed Noodles with Seafood
Mushy linguini with too much pepper. For shame!
Grilled Anchovies Taiwan Style
My favorite appetizer there; three slender grilled fish, no frills and no sauce. Very nice!
Seafood Noodles Soup
A good amount of fresh seafood, but too much pepper in the broth! They've committed this same indecency twice on this dish, so I can no longer extend my mercy.
Steamed Dumpling with Vegetables
Serviceable pouches of green stuff.
Ma Po Tofu
Surprisingly good. No pork, just wiggly tofu and mildly numbing sauce.
Oyster Tofu Soup
Oysters, green onions and tofu cubes in an unsalted broth; long forgotten before I even finished it, but pleasant enough (lots of oysters, at least!).
Hot and Sour Fish Soup
Not even remotely hot, or sour (save for the single tomato chunk bobbing awkwardly against some squid scraps). Maybe they just didn't think I could handle the "real" thing, whatever it is? Pah! My parents were calling me "Hot and Sour" before... wait, I lost my train of thought.
Sauteed Squid with Pickled Mustard Greens
A very respectable version of this pungent, bilious favorite.
Flounder with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Breading with take-out-packet sauce.
Szechuan Style Steamed Flounder
The best thing I've had there, though it pales next to the same dish at the place up the street (hint: its blessed name rhymes with Caiwan Tafe). And, of course, next to the several variations on this dish at the marvelous Thailand [sic!] Cafe in Central-- more on that restaurant in a later post...
Though my overall experience at this place has been in the B/B- range, I'm open to suggestions on their (fairly epic) menu! They do some things well, so...
MC and others would disagree with me, but, other than the XLB which are great, I enjoy the food at Taiwan Cafe and Gourmet Dumpling house much more than the food at Dumpling Cafe. I took my foodie aunt to each and she agrees (not that that means anything and we got served some past razor clams at Dumpling Cafe that day, which probably clouded the judgement). I don't think you are off-base here. I think Dumpling Cafe is 1000X better than your generic suburban Chinese restaurant, but not the best place in Chinatown.