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Stunning Northern Chinese in Gardena, including XLB!

Stopped into the Tozai Plaza complex at Redondo Beach Boulevard and Western intending to visit Mountain for eclectic Korean and noticed a new place called Dumpling House. It has been open for only a week or two, and as soon as I saw the menu all other plans vanished. We tried XLB, smoked pork pancake with scallion, and lamb with cumin -all were Monterey Park quality. The lamb with cumin was best, spicy, oniony, and delicious.

Service was friendly but amateur, and strangely they served the tea in styrofoam cups. We brought wine and drank it from soup bowls - next time we will bring our own glassware. Bill was $29.00 for more than two people could eat. We will be going back, again and again if it is always this good.

Dumpling House
15486 S. Western, Gardena.

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  1. "strangely they served the tea in styrofoam cups"

    How's this strange? Half the shacks in SGV serve tea in foam cups. I really, REALLY do not like it when XLBs crowd together like this: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/dumpli... it's like a bundle of sweaty balls sticking to each other.

    6 Replies
    1. re: TonyC

      I guess I always find it strange when they use foam - more wastage, more expensive, and easier to knock over. As for Proper Dumpling Spacing, I was more focused on taste so didn't notice.

      1. re: FoodObsessive

        Perhaps they don't have the space or money to install the proper equipment for washing and sanitizing silverware and dishes.

        1. re: raytamsgv

          I don't think that's it - they use standard crockery except for styrofoam cups.

      2. re: TonyC

        They look intact though with no signs of leakage or oozing which is a big plus.

        1. re: Porthos

          They were excellent, and not a bit of leakage.

        2. re: TonyC

          They quite definitely do not have room to breathe.

        3. We were at Tozai a couple of fridays ago. We saw the crowd waiting to get in so we headed to Kotohira for udon instead. They should do well there. Obviously nothing like it around for miles.

          1. Thanks for the report. Will have to give a try when my friend who lives in South Bay wants to meet up for dinner....

            1. I just went there for lunch with a coworker and it was great. We ordered onion pancakes for $3.50, a dozen XLB#1 and a dozen XLB#8 for $6.99 per dozen. #1 is shrimp, pork, chive and egg. #8 is beef and onion. Zero leakage. Very tasty with a little soy and vinegar on the side. You have to eat fast or they dry out and get tough. I would never get these to go for that reason.

              5 Replies
              1. re: GoodEatz

                Uhh... surely you mean dumpling#1 and dumpling#8. Or are they actually doing some game-changing xiaolongbaos here with the shrimp/pork/chiver/egg filling and a ridiculous serving size? Beef & Onion xiaolongbao is unheard of in LA. And by nature of the beast, dumpling leakage is a non-issue.

                1. re: TonyC

                  Yes. I am a XLB novice. Except for the filling both #1 and #8 were identical I thought. As for juice, the #8 was juicy but I don't know if it was prepared XLB style. The #1 came on a plate and the #8 came in a steamer tin. Maybe you can fill me in on XLB vs regular steamed dumpling.

                    1. re: TonyC

                      Where are those beef & onion dumplings at ?

                      1. re: kevin

                        From photo #5, apparently Dumpling House in Gardena

                  1. Thanks for the heads up. Since I work in the South Bay, I'm always interested in SB developments for lunch and dinner. Went there Thursday and was pleasantly surprised how good the dumplings were. I greatly enjoyed their Lamb and Green Onion, Pork and Crab. The Pork Pan Fried was good too.

                    I took much of it home and they steamed up very well.

                    They actually have quite an extensive menu beside the dumplings, including hot pots, noodles and seafood.

                    The best dumplings I've had in the South Bay is Peter's Place, but this place is certainly superior.

                    Interested in what our resident Chinese restaurant experts think.

                    1. Dumpling House is pretty impressive for being somewhere outside of the SGV. The dumplings, wontons in chile oil, shredded bing with pork, stinky tofu, sheng jian bao and sauteed mustard greens were all legit.

                      The house special cumin lamb was very good albeit a little too salty for me. A bowl of plain white rice would have tempered the saltiness but I wanted to use that space in my stomach for other things... The lamb itself is thinly sliced, relatively lean and no bones. This may or may not be a deal breaker for some, but I've found that so many of the cumin-lamb dishes in SGV are loaded with dried chiles but bones with almost no meat, or lots of gristle. This one is all meat with onions, a soy-based sauce and loads of cumin and dried chile. It's definitely wetter than what expected, but nonetheless worth another try.

                      Their beef roll is superb. They mince the beef, hoisin, green onions and cilantro with a soup jelly before rolling it in the bing. I think this beef roll is one of the best I've had. Their process of mincing the ingredients and the addition of the soup jelly makes a huge difference. 101 Noodle Express (on Valley in Alhambra) is probably still the best, but only because they have that mustard green/chile condiment that I find goes so well with the beef roll.

                      Their menu is quite extensive - I'd venture a guess at somewhere around 100 items or more? They could and should pull back the menu by a third to a half. We tried to stick with what we thought were their regional specialties that one typically will not find around non-SGV parts. The stinky tofu (deep-fried) was the only non-menu request that they gladly did for us for a one-dollar upcharge from their listed regular tofu that was deep-fried. We did not try the xlb but plan on it in the future. A couple of tables did order it, and they appeared perfect.

                      Service was efficient enough - all college-aged (I think) Taiwanese guys mainly speaking Mandarin, but they do speak manageable English as well. I don't know what the deal with the styrofoam cups is either, but I like the idea of the water carafes on the table. They should invest in a water filter.

                      Diners seem to come in waves. A number of folks were finishing up and leaving when we got there around 8PM where they seated us promptly. Another wave of diners started to show up around 8:45-9PM. Almost all the customers were Chinese.

                      I think Dumpling House is what many had hoped ROC Star on Sawtelle would be like. A stand-up Chinese restaurant that supresses the need to drive all the way out to SGV for legitimate versions of regional Chinese dishes. The SGV is far too broad in its offerings so my visits there will by no means be replaced by Dumpling House. But they are a "real" Chinese eatery that folks from the South Bay and the Westside should embrace.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        "I think Dumpling House is what many had hoped ROC Star on Sawtelle would be like." You totally nailed it. This would be average or a little below in the SGV, which on an absolute scale is pretty good. Onion pancake wasn't crispy and was a little bland, and beef roll (called pancake here) probably overdid the green onions. But the dumplings (especially the wrapper) were great as was the beef bing. I'm looking forward to drilling further down into the menu.

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Dumpling House is a great addition to Gardena and the South Bay. From where I live, Monterey Park and Alhambra are about 30-35 minutes away, driving sane on a good day. Dumpling House is about 15-20 minutes with good traffic. Both drives can be variable, but I find the 405 South to be far more consistent and less prone to congestion; thus, it's a great Plan B from my perspective.

                          We didn't try the onion pancake (as well as so many other things from that gynormous menu), but we will try to sample that and other things outside of what we already ordered.

                      2. We tried Dumpling House on our recent visit to LA, and were not impressed at all. We ordered XLB, beef rolls, and sheng-jian bao. All of these were executed quite poorly - lack of flavor, soggy buns, etc. Even second/third-tier Taiwanese/Chinese places back home in Seattle tasted better - and that's pretty sad.

                        The next day, we went into SGV proper and got a much, much better experience.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: HungWeiLo

                          For comparison, where did you go in SGV?

                          1. re: HungWeiLo

                            Thanks. That's all everyone wanted to know.

                            1. re: HungWeiLo

                              In another thread I estimated that probably 300 of the 300 top Los Angeles county Chinese restaurants were in the San Gabriel Valley. To find something comparable to the SGV you'd have to go to the next county to Irvine. Dumpling House is a nice addition to the South Bay and I'd love for something like that to show up in West LA.

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                So Dumpling House is significantly better than ROC ?

                                And I do like ROC as I've probably stated a myriad of instances before.

                                1. re: kevin

                                  Yes. I wish they would switch locations.

                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                    NO! I finally get a decent Chinese place in my neighborhood, and I want it to stay there.

                            2. The name and Chinese name looked familiar. According to the staff they are a new branch of the restaurant of the same name in Arcadia. Has anyone eaten at both to compare?

                              Dumpling house is decent when compared to SGV, solid to great for South Bay. Other than Sue's Kitchen, there are not many places that even seem remotely reminiscent of the SGV.

                              Perhaps, there is hope for the South Bay Chinese food scene with both Dumpling House and Boiling Point opening up next to each other. In addition to presence of Tea Station (though lacking quality in the food dept) and the recently opened Yami House, a small beachhead of Chinese/Taiwan influenced restaurants is being established. I hope all the restaurants continue to improve their flavors and maybe bring the A-game chefs in from SGV. With enough continued patronage, one can hope that Gardena/Torrance will catch the eye of SGV restauranteurs. I believe location, population, and real estate all present a viable opportunity for growth here.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: zruilong

                                Interesting that this is related to Dumpling House on Baldwin in Arcadia, which is probably the least regarded dumpling place in the San Gabriel Valley. That's probably the last place you would expect to open up a second branch, but given how it well compares in the South Bay, that was probably a smart move.

                              2. So glad you mentioned this. I tried it last week, and it definitely fills a large gap in the South Bay dining scene. Cumin lamb was good (a little more onion than I like, but the flavor was good), the wonton in spicy oil was good. Service was sloooow, but they seem to have good intentions.

                                I have a new goal of trying all the restaurants in Tozai Plaza. I've been to Mountain, but want to run through the rest in the next couple weeks.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Fig Newton

                                  In my opinion if you have been to Mountain and Dumpling House, you have already been to the best. Boiling Point is pretty good but very slow, and the Japanese places along Redondo Beach Boulevard are solid but unspectacular.

                                  1. re: FoodObsessive

                                    Great, thanks for this insight. What about Lee's Tofu? Any thoughts?

                                    1. re: Fig Newton

                                      I have been to the Lee's Tofu that is a few blocks south on Western - it's reliable but nothing special, like the other Lee's restaurants.

                                  2. re: Fig Newton

                                    I rather like Kotohira for their udon noodles and combinations. Not as good as Sanuki No Sato, but solid.

                                    Pho So 1 is decent, not great Vietnamese.

                                    1. re: Ogawak

                                      Kotohira also has good QPR - $10-13 for their generous combos. Another plus are their handful of Okinawan dishes.

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            Sorry - it's a good deal. Attempts at brevity gone wrong...

                                    2. 3 months later, has anyone been back to see if they've improved?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: TripleAxel

                                        We went again about six weeks ago. Not sure how bad or good HumgWeiLo got here or how great it is back home for him but I don't see this place being anywhere close to horrid as he experienced. The food was still the great for non-SGV but service was far too thin. The place was full at Saturday dinner but only two waiters for service. Most customers appeared to be from Asia and many were emoting their impatience with the staff in various ways. We haven't been back since because of the lengthy wait.