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Dumplings - LA Dish of the Month (Feb 2013)

In one of the closest votes in decades (ok, months) the results are in.

The dish of the month for Los Angeles for Feb 2013 is dumplings.

Here's a link to the vote: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/888148

The goal is to collectively try as many versions of dumplings as possible during the month of February! So let's start exploring and eating—report back with reviews and photos.

All types of dumpling preparations are fair game (yes, even XLB)! Looking forward to seeing what people find.

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  1. Here we go.

    Trieu Chau Santa Ana. The one on Newhope.

    House special noodles. Small white noodles. No pork balls. Add wonton.

    Wontons are pork with a faint hint of minced shrimp.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      You should get some sort of prize for not only being the first (which you normally are anyway), but the fastest.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        You *are* the DOM MC.

        I like burgundy, pizza, dumplings...that magical 20% off card some people have at Elite...

        1. re: Porthos

          My "BOGO Geoduck card at Sea Harbour" just expired ...

    2. I suspect that most will vote for Asian dumplings. As much as I like Asian dumplings, the Lithuanian Dumplings served at Cafe Montana are always a special treat. "Koldunai - Lithuanian style meat dumplings served with crumbled bacon and sour cream"

      4 Replies
      1. re: maudies5

        Many of us voted dumplings in the hopes that someone will report back with non Asian dumplings.

        1. re: maudies5

          I agree it would be nice to have a nice sampling if dumplings from all cuisines.

          maudies5, why not set aside time to try the Lithuanian dumplings at Cafe Montana during the next 28 days and report back?

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I have had the Cafe Montana dumplings many times. It is the only reason I go to Cafe Montana. I love that dish.

            1. re: maudies5

              I think ipse is gently coaxing you to be active and try dish of the month this month. Maybe come back with a nice pic of said delicious meat dumpling...

        2. A dumpling is a filling (meat, meat/veg, veg) is wrapped within a dough, right? XLB are my favorite. However, I'd love to hear about some non-Asian like empenadas or prirogis.

          6 Replies
          1. re: granadafan

            Please see my post re: Lithuanian Dumplings

            1. re: granadafan

              That definition I believe is overinclusive. Because if it was just a meat (or meat / veg) wrapped in dough than a Beef Wellington would technically qualify as a dumpling ...

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Empanadas and pastels are probably just as "dumpling" as Samosa. Wikipedia "dumplings" is pretty broad and includes samosas, empanadas, and a whole mess of other stuff. No beef wellington though.

                If Empanadas are on the table, I'll go scope out this Argentinian empanada place I've driven by many times but never tried...

                Granadafan, you should go this month and report back on your favorite empanada place!

              2. re: granadafan

                Well, what about soup dumplings?

                1. re: ns1

                  See above:

                  "All types of dumpling preparations are fair game (yes, even XLB)! Looking forward to seeing what people find."

                2. re: granadafan

                  Dumplings don't necessarily have to have filling, e.g., gnocchi, spätzle, knöpfle, pantruca.

                3. Here's today's dumpling outing.

                  First person to guess where this was gets my car that I use as a daily driver as a door prize.


                  6 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Your daily driver is the white BMW, right?

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Hah! Small world, ipse. I too, was at Din Tai Fung earlier today! I see you parked your Bimmer near my "Saturday Ferrari", as well...

                          My first thought was also ROC, but their tabletops are dark brown.

                          1. re: J.L.

                            I thought DTF because of the steamed pork and shrimp dumplings but the shrimp fried rice at DTF is white not brown.

                            Also, I don't remember a clothing store in that plaza.

                            Plus, ipse wouldn't be caught dead at DTF. Only thing acceptable is the chicken soup and no chicken soup was in the photo ;)

                            1. re: Porthos

                              Clothing store is across from DTF, next to JJ and the Hello Kitty store (which for some reason always gives me the creeps).

                        2. The best reason to take part of L.A. Dish of the month? It'll make your life so much easier...

                          Case in point... today we were thinking, what shall we do for lunch. And instead of the usual "I dunno... what do you want to do?" game... we said Dumplings! And since we were in Culver City, one of the obivous choices was Tara's Himalayan and their Tibetan dumplings, Momos...

                          Tara's offers two different type of Momos... Steamed, which we find a little waterlogged so the flavor of of the fillings is a bit diluted and kothey or pan fried, which is our preferred Momo experience... Although they tend to be a touch on the damp side, especially when compared to something like Pot Stickers/Goyoza, the pan frying allows the filling to get really juicy and the unique flavor coming from the Himalayan blend of spices come through.

                          Regardless of Momo type, at Tara's the dipping sauce used is a creamy spicy tomato sauce. It's quite good, again, unique. However, what we REALLY love with these Momos is their spicy sauce, again, it's spicy, but also has some unique flavors due to spices like Jimbu (A dried onion) and Szechuan Peppercorn... You have to ask for it separately (Spicy sauce with the Jimbu), but it's worth the trouble!



                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Dommy

                            Thanks for the report, Dommy!

                            We need that slogan to be on the masthead.

                            "The best reason to take part of L.A. Dish of the month? It'll make your life so much easier..."

                          2. Grabbed some Dungeness crab XLB at the place closest to LA serving them...Koi Palace Daly City!

                            Feel free to delete DOM MC :)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Porthos

                              Shall we say, it's "northern" LA?

                            2. While getting some grub at Why Thirsty, walked over to Bhanu and got an order of vegetarian samosas. A bit too greasy and bland for my tastes but we did pick up some tasty taro filled candies and peanut crunch confections.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Bland? Really? I thought they were incredibly spiced compared to some of the samosas I've had around town...Maybe I need to go back and reevaluate.

                                1. re: ns1

                                  Which ones did you try? I usu. get the chicken but this time decided to try the vegetable ones for the first time.

                              2. Banh it ram at Quan Hop on Brookhurst and MacFadden in Westminster.

                                Vietnamese sticky rice dumplings filled with mushrooms, pork, shrimp on a fried sticky rice base. Outstanding. They do a nice filet mignon pho here also.

                                Legit Vietnamese food in a nice setting.

                                1. recently had the beef with caraway dumplings at JTYH. fairly tasty dumpling, the best part of which was the lacy, crispy, nicely browned bottom.
                                  i wish the caraway was a bit more pronounced.
                                  took home a bag of frozen pork and pickled napa dumplings. those were pretty delicious.
                                  i think pork is a superior dumpling meat than beef, maybe.

                                  1. Today, I had samosas & pakoras from Dehli Palace. As a general rule, I do not eat samosas from Indian restaurants because I find them to greasy and bland. Also, I prefer my samosas smaller than what is found in restaurants and grocery stores. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The pastry shell was flakey and not greasy at all. The filling was well seasoned and just spicy enough to leave a pleasant taste in my mouth without being too chilli hot. The tamarind chutney was a little thin but the cilantro mint chutney was perfect.

                                    1. Went to Empress Pavilion on Saturday, and had two specimens.

                                      The XLB were a bit on the meh side. Small, and fell apart way to easily, spilling out most of the juice. They were tasty enough, but as expected won't win any prizes.

                                      Also had some pan-fried shrimp & pork potstickers. Very tasty, but could have used the slightest bit more frying time. However, they were good enough to satisfy a potsticker craving, which I'd say I have perpetually.

                                      I didn't make the outing just for dumplings, but thought I'd report back given the thread.

                                      1. I tried the Potstickers Puerco Pibil and Dim Sum Tamales (shrimp) at Playa (part of their new Mexi-China menu) and, sadly, found both to be disappointing. Perhaps it was just sense memory but masa does not seem to make a satisfying dim sum wrapper. I have liked many of Sedlar's other attempts at fusion, such as his maize cake Bombay Taj, but the combinations here were not doing it for me.

                                        1. I had the steamed dumplings at Seoul House of Tofu on Sawtelle.
                                          I thought the wrapper was good. It had a nice thickness and a good chew. The pork inside was for the most part relatively bland. I think the filling needs more salt or some other distinguishing flavor.

                                          1. Mon dieu, il pleut comme vache qui pisse!

                                            Just today alone, I count 5 live dumpling encounters ...

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Without a doubt, most successful DOM ever!

                                              Good job to all.

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                At this rate LA is going to lap the SF board, which usually is the most dedicated DOtM devotees.

                                                And, P, I love how you're double dipping!

                                            2. Are zongzi (AKA Chinese tamales) also considered dumplings ('cuz some people call them 'rice dumplings')?

                                              For that matter, are Mexican & Central American tamales considered dumplings, too?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                We might have to draw the line at things like zongzi and tamales. I think dumplings should have edible wrappers (or skins).

                                                Otherwise things like fish baked in a pouch would be a "dumpling" ...

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Maybe, but I think u should get 1/2 dumpling credit for making the culinary argument

                                              2. So much Asian stuff here!

                                                I'll report back soon with ravioli, gnocchi, and some other European things... maybe some kreplach or perogies.

                                                1. Yuca Rellena at Bella Cuba in Costa Mesa.

                                                  Yuca is surprisingly light and crispy. Inside is ground beef. I actually like the platanos rellenos here a lot also.


                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                    Here's a different one for you guys:

                                                    frozen pork dumplings from Dean Sin World. I need to work on my placement technique as I lost the juice from 6/7 :( Maybe I just need to those little pieces of foil to put the XLB on so that the juice isn't lost. Oh well.

                                                    <3 these guys

                                                    (whoops, meant to reply to OP not to Porthos)

                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                      Frozen ones are tough because once you cook through the frozen inside the outside gets wet and soggy and thus easier to rip.

                                                      6/7 is hearbreaking ;-)

                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                        If anyone has suggestions to improve my frozen XLB technique I'm all ears.

                                                        1. re: ns1

                                                          I don't think it's your technique but the inherent difficulty with frozen XLB.

                                                          Less crowding would help of course so the skin doesn't touch.

                                                          So would individual tins.

                                                          Maybe individual napa cups?

                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                            Yeah individual napa cups is my next step.

                                                            I thought doing 7 instead of 10 would reduce the crowding; I mean when they went in I thought they had a lot of space.

                                                          2. re: ns1

                                                            If anyone has suggestions to improve my frozen XLB technique I'm all ears.

                                                            Let them defrost partially (3/4 of the way) on the counter first before steaming.

                                                            1. re: ns1

                                                              When I steam the frozen ones from Dean Sin World I typically don't layer the Napa cabbage so that it covers the bottom so much in order to let more steam in. I also only steam them with the water at a simmer rather than a rolling boil. The XLB are usually done in 15 mins or less for me.

                                                              1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                                                                You know, I tried the simmer method and was met with complete failure. I love napa so it is what it is LOL

                                                                1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                                                                  I was also going to say this. We've done the DSW XLB and steamed them on parchment paper in an bamboo steamer and I was pleasantly surprised by how few of them burst en route to my mouth. Maybe just play with your steaming methods?

                                                        2. driving down Wilshire in SM yesterday and saw the sign for Ukraina Deli...Pirogis...slammed on the brakes and pulled into a great parking spot...but alas they only see frozen pirogi...foiled again! maybe i'll be able to try the Palace later!

                                                          1. i would love to hear about any dumplings that aren't made with meat nor poultry and do not come in a meat or poultry broth.
                                                            (most of the dumplings i see reviewed come in a pork bone broth)

                                                            veggies and seafood are ok

                                                              1. Potato Gnocchi Piemontese:
                                                                potato dumplings with sausage bolognese, pioppini mushroom and pecorino romano

                                                                at Riviera Restaurant in Calabasas. Passable. The gnocchi were a little soft for me. The sauce was good. One thing I hate about Riviera is that they always include at least half button mushrooms in everything that says it is going to have only wild mushrooms. Charge me $2 more and give me the real thing! Overall, a decent dish, but nothing special.

                                                                1. Uni dumplings at Kappo Honda in Fountain Valley.

                                                                  Always stayed away from this since I feel uni should be eaten fresh and raw and the stuff they use for dumplings is probably low quality stuff.

                                                                  Turns out it is a little uni in a nice fish mousse.

                                                                  A pleasant surprise. Thank you DOM!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. most successful DOM yet! and we're only 7 days in!!

                                                                    1. Pork XLB at Lao Dong in Irvine.

                                                                      Best in class.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Porthos


                                                                        Aren't you glad that something like Nachos didn't win for February DotM?

                                                                        Just imagine what all those greasy chips and liquified cheese products would do to your complexion ....

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          Not sure pork fat juices is exactly good for me either...

                                                                          I'm certainly not doing more than 1 post on something like Nachos or Ice Cream if they make DOM. Just count me out for bone marrow. Brisket almost killed me as it is.

                                                                        2. re: Porthos

                                                                          To be clear here, what class are we talking about?

                                                                          the socal XLB class of 2012, or the oc XLB class of 2013?

                                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                                            SoCal pork XLB at this time. The only version I like better is the crab and pork ones at J&J in SGV. Otherwise, this is the current champ for me from DTF to Dean Sin World...

                                                                        3. Little Sheep Irvine

                                                                          Fish dumplings
                                                                          Egg dumplings
                                                                          Fish dumplings with roe

                                                                          Incidentally, the fresh noodles cooked on the spicy side may be some of the best noodles in town. Al dente and completely soaked through with spices.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                                            "Little Sheep Irvine" I must be living under a rock. How long has it been open?

                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                              Believe it opened early summer last year. Think of Marie Callendar, and it is next door!

                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                You could probably pinpoint the date by the Yelp posts.

                                                                                Don't feel bad. I didn't notice it until 6-8 weeks ago on my way to Sam Woo.

                                                                            2. 101 Noodle Express, steamed fish dumplings, if I was to pick nits, the filling was a little mushy but, the flavor was there and the wrapper was excellent, perfectly al dente if you will. In order to avoid the slightly mushy filling, I usually opt for the cod fish dumplings which have a firmer filling but, they were whited out on the menu.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                I wonder if "whited out" is the proper expression to use in this case, JAB? ;)

                                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                                  That brings up another, how about any place else that has cod (or any other fish) instead of sole?

                                                                                  Even unusual combos with pork would be welcome...

                                                                                  I'm just looking for distinct, uncommon, out of the norm...

                                                                                2. The oxtail dumplings at Tar and Roses are melt-in-your-mouth sublime! As the Kiwis say, very moreish!

                                                                                  1. We went to NBC yesterday for brunch. The pork and shrimp potstickers were great, as were the pork and shrimp siu mai. Both were piping hot. Also had the usuals like char siu bao (both baked and steamed) and other dim sum goodies.

                                                                                    1. Went to Shang Ming last weekend for one of many feasts to ring in the new year. The pork potstickers are impressive in size and tasty, but I think I liked their beef pancake and fried rice cake even more. We'll go again to try the lamb potsticker (which they were out of, bummer).

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: CLowe

                                                                                        Nice report with pics! Thanks for reporting back!

                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            I'm glad you brought that up ipse, I showed the waiters a photo and asked about lu bao and they just looked at me...then said they had something like that only smaller and not shaped like that and served me what is in the photo in CLowe's post.

                                                                                            Same thing at Beijing Pie House, only "doesn't look like that, is smaller and doesn't have that (pointing to webbing of flour)" (Sigh!)

                                                                                        1. BF and I were in the valley (Studio City) and decided to pop into Mantee Cafe. I hadn't been in quite a while, and he hadn't ever been. He had both the meat and vegetarian mantee. He preferred the meat, and really praised the nice crispiness of the exterior and the vibrant sauce. He also liked the beef with cherries. I had kebabs... Worth a stop in, if you're in the area.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Emme

                                                                                            Good to know. Thanks for the report.

                                                                                          2. Yamadaya OC. Premium shio ramen. No chasu. Comes with a shrimp wonton that has minimal filling. For decorative purposes really. Note how the egg is cooked 1 step from Santouka oblivion. Shame.

                                                                                            1. Visited 101 Noodle Express in the Fox Hills mall for lunch on Monday. Shared the beef roll, the fried dumplings, and added the hot'n'sour soup.

                                                                                              Beef roll was six pieces. Good. Exterior had a bit of crisp, the meat was plentiful and reasonably tender, and the leek or onion inside soft and a nice contrast.

                                                                                              On the recommendation of the lady at the register, had the spinach and shrimp dumplings. Not crisp enough on the bottom, skin above a bit flabby. Too much spinach, too little shrimp. No dipping sauce -- had to mix hot chili oil and dark vinegar with soy. OK, nothing I'd hurry back for.

                                                                                              Hot"n'sour soup was a dollar add-on. Not worth it. Hot temperature with lots of shredded bamboo, but the broth was tasteless. Adding considerable hot chili oil, soy, and vinegar did little to improve it.

                                                                                              1. XLB at Tasty Noodle House Irvine.

                                                                                                Average. Like the ones at Mei Long Village. Thick skinned, juice leaking out of the buns/dumplings and onto the steamer. Barely any juices inside. The filling is strongly flavored with sesame oil for those that like the stronger flavored filling.

                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                  I actually prefer XLB with thicker skins and, really, that's the way they should be made. They're not wontons after all.

                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                    You like them with the juice leaking all over the place also? ;-)

                                                                                                    I'm obviously in the thinner but al dente enough to hold the meat and juices without leaking camp. A more elegant product :-)

                                                                                                    I think it perfectly explains why you are adamant about calling them bao (thicker) and why some may classify them as a "dumpling" (thinner).

                                                                                                  2. re: Porthos

                                                                                                    We ate at Mei Long Village about a month ago. While in the process of picking items from the menu, I brought up our past not so stellar xlb experiences with my wife. She still wanted them - we made two orders of them - and I was surprised that all were intact.

                                                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                      Why go to MLV for wildly variable XLB when you have stellar crab and pork ones at J&J? ;-)

                                                                                                      Food at J&J is also excellent.

                                                                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                        Not to take this thread too off-topic, but why not just return the tray of XLB if they've been "un-souped" before consumption?

                                                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                          Blame the wife - glad she doesn't read Chowhound. Will mention the CRAB-part to her. She is Chinese. When she sees any potentially edible arthropods on a random nature program, her only comment is, "can you eat them?"

                                                                                                          Showed her this picture of a coconut crab:


                                                                                                          Her only remark? "Can you eat them?"

                                                                                                          "Yes you can."

                                                                                                          "We should go to where ever these crabs are."

                                                                                                          Maybe she will be sold on J&J next time...

                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                              That picture always reminds me of the phrase, "lobsters are simply cockroaches of the sea."

                                                                                                    2. Since no one has done Mandoo yet... we decided to take one for the team...

                                                                                                      Mandoo is not usually my favorite dumpling... more often than not, they are more about the size than the substance... overly thick skins, one note fillings (Kim Chee or somekinda grainy meat) but the ones at Olympic Noodle show all other dumplings how things should be done...

                                                                                                      Although Olympic Noodle offers several different type of dumplings mandoo... boiled, steamed and pan fried. Although in my previous post I had confessed to preferring pan fried dumplings over steamed ones... by at Olympic Noodle, I can't resist ordering the steamed ones....


                                                                                                      While many steamed dumplings become over saturated with water... when steamed, the wrappers of these mandoo become like shrinky dinks... they wrap up so tightly against the filling and protect it so it doesn't loose any bit of flavor. The filling itself of juicy ground pork, scallons and spice just explodes with each bite.


                                                                                                      And because these are steamed, I can eat the whole tray and be completely blissed out... not greased out like their pan fried counter parts...

                                                                                                      And just as the post above... although these dumplngs are wonderful on their own, I still can't resist having a few absolutely stuffed with Olympic Noodle's Scallion sauce. Unlike so many 'condiments' at asian places where you wonder if they ever change them... the scallion sauce at Olympic Noodle always seems so fresh. Bouncy scallions, soy sauce, sesame seeds and oil. A simple thing... but when paired with the dumplings... truly addicting...



                                                                                                      1. The nexus of the Chow-verse...101 Noodle Express (Irvine) where January DOM meets February DOM.

                                                                                                        The dumplings are the wild vegetable (yee vegetable) pan fried dumplings mentioned above.

                                                                                                        1. Loofa and Shrimp XLB at Lao Dong Irvine.

                                                                                                          Both shrimp and loofa are fresh and virbant. Broth tastes a little smokey like dashi.

                                                                                                          The pork ones still steal the show though.

                                                                                                          1. Yum ... pan fried dumplings (鍋貼).

                                                                                                            Vegetarian, no less.


                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                              So where does one get a trough of dumplings?

                                                                                                            2. Too bad there are only five entries for non Asian dumplings......

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                                Perhaps you can contribute to make that six ...

                                                                                                                Only four shopping days left!

                                                                                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                                  Most successful DOM yet!

                                                                                                                  I'll take it...

                                                                                                                2. Chinese dumplings are my favorite food in the world, but they're already very well represented here and elsewhere on the boards. So I'm happy to contribute Russian dumplings to the mix!

                                                                                                                  These were taken at Gambrinus, a little Russian bar on the divey part of the Redondo pier, just up from Bincho. I love this place and often start out here before moving on to Bincho. The menu is pretty extensive for such a little place, and the cooking is authentic (authenticated by the Russians who own it and cook there and by my Russian-born friend who came with me).

                                                                                                                  First up was the Chebureki, a large, deep-fried dumpling with a pork filling. This was rather flat, like a quesadilla, but pinched closed like a dumpling. The skin was nicely puffed with a good chew to it, and the filling was tasty, reminiscent of a jing dong rou bing, if you're familiar with that. The meat was more like a firm patty rather than loose. This was served with sour cream and a spicy sauce that tasted very similar to a sambal.

                                                                                                                  Next was Vareniki, which looked just like large wontons. The skin was similar to that of a Chinese boiled dumpling. The filling was a lightly sweetened housemade cottage cheese. These were really pleasant, especially with the sour cream. Because of the filling, these could easily be a dessert if you're into not-so-sweet desserts. My friend said they're commonly eaten for breakfast in Russia.

                                                                                                                  Last were Pelmeni with pork. These looked just like the vareniki, but were sprinkled with dill and served with sour cream and grated parmesan. Aside from these accouterments, these tasted pretty much just like Chinese pork dumplings - from the skin to the filling. Very tasty. I was surprised at this, but perhaps I shouldn't be that surprised since they're neighbors...

                                                                                                                  Overall, everything was very good. We also had their blinis, which aren't those little rounds you top with caviar, but more like Russian burritos, with various fillings available - spinach and cheese, chicken and mushrooms, etc. The wrapper is a light crepe. These were delicious even though not technically dumplings.

                                                                                                                  Also worth noting - a decent beer selection.

                                                                                                                  136 N International Boardwalk
                                                                                                                  Redondo Beach, CA 90277

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: heinous

                                                                                                                      Outstanding report and pics. Thanks for the education.