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Patty Chen's Dumpling Room

A quick lunch, No. Worth the wait, Yes!
I just had the first of many leisurely lunches at the Dumpling Room. We started with the Beijing Ravioli and the Soupy Pork Buns. They were so good that we wanted more so we placed an order for Veggie Dumplings to go.
I had had Patty’s dumplings at All Asia so I couldn’t wait to taste some of her other creations. The soupy pork buns hit the spot. I could eat them every day. Since the dumplings are made to order be prepared to wait.

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    1. re: peregrine

      Central Square, Cambridge - formerly Pu Pu Hot Pot.

      1. When you say a wait, how long are you talking?

        4 Replies
        1. re: jgg13

          Soup dumplings generally take 20 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cool enough to eat so there's half of an hour lunch.

          1. re: trufflehound

            I was aski specifically about e experience here, ie is t longer than one might expect for dumplings

            1. re: jgg13

              When I was there Friday, they said it would be about 45 minues. It was a full house and their first friday being open.

              1. re: Snowflake

                Cool, thanks. I find myself in central square frequently - but with the sort of time windows where 15 mins or so could make or break my chances of reasonably being able to go there so I was curious if we were takling 20 mins, 30, 40, or more.

        2. I only went to All-Asia once or twice in its very early days, and don't recall it as being very good. Did I miss the good part of the menu, or did a new chef come along later, or did they start slow and get better?


          27 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Food wasn't always a central part of the All-Asia experience and they've tried several formats throughout the years. Patty's dad was the star cook at one point, I know, only on certain days, and he did head Pu Pu Hot Pot back in the day. Patty and her husband Marc are an entertaining and entrepreneurial couple, everyone who know them loves them. None the less, Patty is the real deal, from Taiwan and has cooked all her life. I've had her food at events and she even made dumplings on the spot for me once at All-Asia when I came with a mutual friend. Organization is not their strong point, so I can see long delays on opening day.

            1. re: tatsu

              Is the older man who used to run Pu Pu Hot Pot Patty's dad? He was such a great guy, super hospitable.

              1. re: dulce de leche

                There was a great guy in the kitchen (who sometimes waited tables, too) and who was super hospitable.

                And a surly, beleaguered front of the house manager who was no relation, I'm pretty sure.

                Where have they gone? I miss them, and my staving off a cold infusion of their hot and sour soup.

                I looked at the menu, and I love dumplings. But--no soup? No noodles? No steamed buns? No hargau? Really, how long will can they last?

                1. re: femmevox

                  <I looked at the menu, and I love dumplings. But--no soup? No noodles? No steamed buns? No hargau? Really, how long will/ can they last?>

                  My thoughts exactly. I was going to guess they want to get their feet under them but it sounds like they've had restnt for years............

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    On the other hand, I've long thought that Boston needs a dedicated dumpling restaurant that serves a quality product. (The biggest joke about Gourmet Dumpling House, other than the fact that people stand in line to eat there, is that their dumplings are just plain awful.) If the dumplings are good, I'm happy for them to take my money, and they can ignore all the other things they're "supposed" to have.

                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                      I share the same thought. If the dumplings are good, I'd be happy to visit frequently.
                      It's not like we need another place that serves Har Gau dumplings....plenty of them around already.

                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                        Right. I'd be sad if they were forced to reconcept away from dumpling restaurant and towards something more closely representing what people want out of an ameri-chinese restaurant.

                        1. re: jgg13

                          The things I mentioned didn't have anything to do with being an "American-Chinese restaurant."

                          Typically the places that serve dumplings in Chinatown (to Chinese people!) also have steamed buns and congee.

                          IS a restaurant that just serves dumplings and nothing else authentically Asian? Love to know from someone who knows.

                          My guess is that it's more contemporary Asian trendy, like maybe some recent restaurants in Hong Kong. I doubt there are restaurants with a menu like Patty Chen's in China.

                          1. re: femmevox

                            Define authentic. Are you suggesting that in all of asia there might not be a single eatery that only serves dumplings?

                            1. re: femmevox

                              On the contrary - dumpling specialty places are far more common in Asia (at least in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the few spots in China I've hit few and far between). In general I find these places more open and conducive to specialist vendors than in the states, where there is a mentality that you need mass market appeal and have a little bit of everything on the menu, even if it's not your strength.

                              One of my favorite places in HK is a small chain which pretty much only sell tangyuan (the little rice ball dumplings), in different flavors and varieties.

                          2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                            Exactly. It was such a dissapointment for me at GDH. They were gross. And we ordered like 2 orders of dumplings, which is a lot plus other food. I mean you can get decent enough dumplings in plenty of other places. But a really great dumpling restaurant--I can't wait to try it, just don't tease us again!

                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                              Isn't the chinese name of GDH something completely different and not related to dumplings?

                              Kind of like how Thailand Cafe became a total misnomer but the chinese name was something else.

                              1. re: jgg13

                                Yes, their name translates to "south-north taste/flavor/style" and doesn't refer to dumplings at all. Same with Dumpling Cafe too - their name I think is south-north peace/harmony.

                                I've never found GDH's dumplings gross, but I haven't made many trips given the redonk lines. I thought their shandong pan fried dumplings were pretty good, but their xiaolong bao only meh. I found the local Taipei Cuisine xiaolong bao (in Quincy) far better than GDH.

                            2. re: opinionatedchef

                              They've actually had at least to restaurants for years - all Asia and pu pu were both the same family

                              1. re: jgg13

                                Argh - s/to/two. stupid ipad.

                              2. re: opinionatedchef

                                OC, i ordered dumplings and convinced them to let me come back and pick them up. They do have soup, hot and sour and miso soup though the portions were small. I liked the dumplings which i steamed to reheat; i especially liked the vegan dumplings.

                                I did not try them, but i assume that soupy pork buns are steamed buns.

                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                  thx c. BTW, i do believe that 'soupy pork buns' are those 'soup dumplings' that you bite into and the broth comes squirting out.

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    i did not try them; from what i understood, they are not soup dumplings.

                                    by the way, given how soup dumplings are made; they are ancient hypermodern food. yummy, to boot.

                                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                      what could "soupy pork buns" be if they are not xiao long bao?

                                      1. re: Prav

                                        i did not have them; i will try them.

                                        1. re: Prav

                                          Had them tonight. They are not xiao long bao. No liquid and had a thick skin. But they were sealed with a twist and not folded over like the others we tried. Still tasty though.

                                          1. re: viperlush

                                            So soupy pork buns with no soup. This is when I really wish they had a Chinese menu (that is with Chinese characters - not some secret menu for those in the clan).

                                            1. re: kobuta

                                              Could they be sheng jian bao?

                                              1. re: saria


                                                according to this, those are the soup buns w/ gelatin inside that melts.

                                                1. re: saria

                                                  That is closer to what they looked like. But, no liquid or undissolved gelatin.

                                                  1. re: viperlush

                                                    In all fairness, most shengjian bao I've had aren't nearly as soupy as xiaolong bao, but the filling shouldn't be dry. Perhaps this is more of an execution error, but I wouldn't translate shengjian bao into English as soupy pork buns either.

                                                    1. re: kobuta

                                                      I've had sheng jian bao with no soup (Andrea Nguyen's recipe doesn't include it at all, for example), and they're more steamed bun (being yeast-raised) than dumpling, so I wondered if they were maybe closer to that than xiao long bao based on how they were described.

                          3. My niece and nephew will be crushed that there is no longer Pu Pu Hot Pot to giggle at when visiting.

                            1. I hit this up last night around 7:30 for dinner. According to the host, that was their first official day of being open. Had the veggie dumplings, taipei, kimchee, and emperor.

                              The Good: All were good, with the kimchee and emperor being the favorites. Look forward to going back and trying the rest.

                              The Bad: Service was SLOW. To be expected on opening day but worth noting. We were there almost two hours. At one point, Patty came out to apologize to the restaurant for the pacing and looked visibly stressed. Every dumpling is made to order which I'm not sure is sustainable if they want to turn tables.

                              Overall: Delicious dumplings and I am excited to go back in a month or two when service kinks are worked out.

                              1. Who is this Patty? Is she related to Joyce?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                  Pretty sure it is a common Chinese surname, and not related, but haven't asked directly.

                                2. Eager to try it soon. Is it really open until midnight 7 days a week? If so, wow.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lossless

                                    I think they are trying to get a liquor license and stay open even later.

                                  2. Unfortunate to read: J. Kenji López-Alt ‏of Serous Eats just tweeted "Followed up a great brunch with possibly the worst dumplings I've ever paid $27 for. Don't bother with the new Central Square spot..." (the brunch was at Craigie).

                                    26 Replies
                                    1. re: valcfield

                                      Yikes. And he seems to adore GDH, for what that's worth.

                                        1. re: DrewStarr

                                          Aha! Thanks for the clarification.

                                      1. re: valcfield

                                        I've never heard anyone say anything good about Pu Pu Hot Pot. So this doesn't actually surprise me much.

                                        1. re: KWagle

                                          Pu Pu Hot Pot was cheap, decent American-Chinese that was open on Tuesdays whenever I forgot that Mary Chung is closed on Tuesdays, which happened more often than I would like to admit. (Thailand Cafe changed this dynamic while its good-Sichuan phase lasted.) That's a sort-of good thing to say about it, no?


                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                            the lunch specials weren't a bad value

                                            1. re: jgg13

                                              Its restrooms were not disgusting, and waters were sometimes promptly refilled.


                                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                                              I got the rice cake dishes at Pu Pu Hot Pot a couple of times, and they were tasty. Definitely on a Tuesday when we forgot that MC's was closed.

                                              1. re: bear

                                                I never got slapped by a waiter there (when I didn't deserve it).


                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                  In praise of the Pupu Hotpot--

                                                  I really really loved their chowfun. They would make it for me as requested with slabs of fried tofu and vegetables. Wok hei and oyster sauce. Haven't found any I like as well elsewhere.

                                                  At the end of the evening, they'd give me a whole vat of hot and sour soup with my takeout, even when I just ordered a small.

                                                  The skinny, surly, anxious front-of-house guy complaining on days when there was no foot traffic and yelling at me when I complained that they'd raised the prices.

                                                  The smiling cook who spoke almost no English and sometimes also waited on table.

                                                  Great clientele--Chinese students from MIT, Nobel laureates,
                                                  the street hustler who sold used books in front of the Central Square post office coming in to get his takeout, serious solo scholars eating fried rice and reading philosophy, little girls with their grandparents there for an afternoon treat--it was sort of "great good place" at a price point that most folks in Central Square could afford.

                                                  I actually miss it a lot.

                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                    Or spit in my soup (at least while I was watching.)

                                                1. re: viperlush

                                                  They brought food to me although I don't know I'd say they ever *delivered*.

                                                  sorry, bad pun.

                                                  But yes, often lost in any discussion of central square area chinese is what you state - MC doesn't deliver. It seems like a regular occurrence that there'll be a thread looking for delivery options and people will start chiming in w/ MC. (I'll admit I go a notch beyond simple 'delivery' when such things matter as I refuse to get delivery from a place that's not on Foodler)

                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                      I also refuse to go beyond Foodler. Just like the ease of use. Lots of good options. They already have my credit card and tipping preferences saved. Also they have great rewards. Sitting on a $50 credit at the moment.

                                                      1. re: mkfisher

                                                        Wow, who knew. You wouldn't go beyond foodler even for something really delicious?

                                                        Wow these internets really are a big deal.

                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                          Most of the Chinatown restaurants are not on Foodler but recently a small consortium started this gamechanger !


                                                          No, not 5-spice pastrami.

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                            If say Doowee and Rice delivered to me and it wasn't on Foodler, I would do that (sadly I'm outside their radius). With Zoe's being closed, this might change. Need to find a new place for American-Chinese.

                                                            1. re: mkfisher

                                                              I'm ever so slightly out of their range (boo!) but I think most of their items are things which would really not travel well. At least that's how I cry myself to sleep at night

                                                            2. re: StriperGuy

                                                              If it was really delicious I wouldn't be wasting delivery on it

                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                As others have said, if I can avoid talking on the phone at any point, I will.

                                                              2. re: mkfisher

                                                                I've started using GrubHub more than Foodler after several incidences of lost orders; when I called the various places I'd ordered from, they told me that Foodler was notorious for not sending them orders on time, and that they vastly preferred when customers used GrubHub.

                                                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                  Any time I've had a complaint with Foodler, I have been offered a full credit for the item or order in question (whether late or incorrect).

                                                                  1. re: Gabatta

                                                                    Same here, although it only happened once, and I merely never ordered from that place again. (I'd ordered a calzone and they'd sent me a pizza with the same ingredients.)

                                                                    1. re: Gabatta

                                                                      Me too, I've always had great customer service from them. Then again, GrubHub has been equally helpful. It's honestly more about what restaurants I'm ordering from.

                                                                      The issue I have with both sites is that it's very difficult to customize items at times. Simple substitutions or changes ("no onions please") are easy, but if I want to add bacon to a sandwich or want an extra side of blue cheese -- things that take three seconds to request over the phone for a small upcharge -- they just can't be done unless the restaurant has specificially set up their listings to allow it (and most don't).

                                                                2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  Convenience. It used to be that some nontrivial percentage of the time I'd get off the phone not even sure if the person understood what I meant, this takes care of that confusion.

                                                                  My payment is directly through them so my CC is in one company''s hands, not several.

                                                                  Their customer service has been such that whenever I've had issues with a specific place they take care of things (even if its just giving me an extra 15 bucks for my trouble).

                                                                  And most importantly I hate using the phone and in the Internet age now I don't have to.

                                                                  I'm generally not expecting top quality out of delivery (its always degraded) so if I miss a place or two it's not going to bum me out.

                                                        2. They made a quite funny post to their Facebook page last night. Talking about all the issues they've encountered in the first couple of weeks.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: mkfisher

                                                            I'm sure they mentioned this, but when I walked by yesterday there was a sign up saying that they'd run out of stock every day

                                                            1. re: jgg13

                                                              Actually, don't remember that in the post (but there were a bunch of items so I might just be forgetting it). I'm not on Facebook otherwise I'd just copy it over to here. Wife showed it to me.

                                                            2. re: mkfisher

                                                              It's pretty tragicomic, and a good example of why you should skip the shakedown cruise:

                                                              "Dear Everyone:

                                                              Yes, we have been open, officially for 10 days, and everything is not perfect.

                                                              1st problem: Tickets were running up to an hour, in the first couple of days, as we had no griddle,

                                                              Where are we now? 20 minutes at lunch and 10-12 minutes at dinner.

                                                              2nd Problem: We mislabeled the Juicy Buns as "Soupy Buns" ATTENTION EVERYONE, WE DON'T SELL SOUPY BUNS. WE DON'T MAKE XIAOLONG BAO. We sell " Juicy Buns" They don't have soup inside, and have a thicker skin, but are also DEELISH!

                                                              3D problem: POS was crashing 3 times per hour

                                                              Solution: POS issues will soon be resolved.

                                                              4th problem: Every Single appliance died in the first 5 days. Dishwasher, Mixer, Griddle, Stove, Food Processor, Reach-in Freezer, Coffee Maker, Steam Table...seriously, "the Gods must be Crazy"

                                                              Solution: Everything has been replaced and/or repaired.

                                                              5th problem: Our walk-in refrigerator is a freezer..and we did not have a replacement freezer to hold the small quantitie of frozen items

                                                              Solution: We got a new upright freezer and are converting the walk in to a cooler, tomorrow.

                                                              It's really hard to stock-pile fresh made dumplings, in racks, without a refrigerated space. Stockpiled dumplings had to go in the walk-in freezer, in morning, and then brought out, with enough time to thaw for cooking...very difficult.

                                                              6th problem: Some dumplings looked like other dumplings, so orders got mixed up.

                                                              Solution: we have made distinct shapes, skin color and cooking style, so no dumplings get mixed.

                                                              Thank your for your patience. Sorry for any inconvenience.

                                                              Patty Chen and family"


                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                I find the whole soup/juicy dumpling thing to be pretty funny. Even "juicy" implies XLB to me as that's a phrase commonly used around here. I won't even get into the bit about how people are reporting the filling is dry and crumbly on the juicy dumplings.

                                                            3. i was there on friday to pick up some veggie dumplings; the place was nearly empty at 6 30; that is not a good sign.

                                                              1. I walked in there at 10:45 on a weekday night and asked if I could put in one order of dumplings to take-away...she said there is a 45 minute delay, I laughed and left.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Prav

                                                                  was that before or since the above mentioned facebook post?

                                                                  1. re: DrewStarr

                                                                    After - though I hadn't seen it (or was aware they were on FB). It was more of a friendly mutual "heh, I know, 45 minutes, crazy, right?" laugh rather than a sneer. ;)

                                                                2. I don't mean to add insult to injury here, but I had a really hilarious meal here the other night. The short answer is that it is most definitely not worth the wait, even if there were no wait, which there most certainly is not.

                                                                  It took five minutes to get seated in a mostly empty restaurant, and then more than ten minutes to order.

                                                                  Coconut bubble tea is served in a cute coconut shaped mug, but tasted like watery coconut water with squishy boba. It was a lot better than the water, which tasted off.

                                                                  But not as off as the dumplings. The waitress got both of our dumpling orders wrong, so it took 35 minutes before the first correct dumpling, the "dumpling room" (shrimp, pork and chives) arrived. Two of the six dumplings were uncooked to the point of having raw pork and raw shrimp inside.

                                                                  Thankful for the divine protection afforded to me by following the spirit of the laws of kashrut, I had ordered the "Papa Chen's veggie" (chives, egg and rice noodles), which came out 45 minutes after being ordered, and still undercooked and gummy, but at least not dangerous.

                                                                  Other than the dirty plates, broken China, peeling wall paint, reused wooden chopsticks, I will say that the dumplings looked pretty, and the fried shallots (?) on top were a nice touch.

                                                                  Their website says they close at 11:30 PM, but the waitress sent away two different parties who tried to come in just before 10 PM. As people left the waitress didn't clear off the dirty dishes from the table, just let them stay there until closing time. Patty Chen emerged from the kitchen briefly to turn up the volume on the music when her favorite song came on, which stayed loud through the rest of the meal.

                                                                  The one saving grace to that meal was that Toscanini's is next door, and nothing gets rid of the taste of a hilariously bad meal and hilariously poor service than a pint of delicious cardamom ice cream.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: lipoff

                                                                    Sorry you had to go through that, but it is pretty awesome to read!

                                                                  2. the dumplings are good; i just bring them home and steam them myself.