Ravioli de JUIN, Paris, France

Vegetable Dumplings

In preparation for a business trip to Paris, I googled like crazy trying to find lists of the best places to eat dumplings but I kept coming up short.  There is a Chinatown in Paris but it is pretty far from where I was staying and far from any of the sites I wanted to see.  But once in Paris I discovered that in French dumplings of all types are referred to as ravioli, often with a country appellation suffix such as Ravioli Japanais, and they are pretty easy to find.

Ravioli de JUIN is a small family run Chinese dumpling house that has a counter that seats maybe 10 people and three or four small tables for another dozen diners.  The dumplings are cooked in an open kitchen behind the counter.  Ravioli de JUIN also sells a spicy Sichuan noodle soup and a tofu salad and a cabbage salad.

The Dumplings:  Ravioli de JUIN sells Raviolis Au Porc, Raviolis Au Boeuf, Raviolis À l’Agneau et oignon (lamb and onion) , Raviolis Au Poulet (chicken) and Raviolis Végétariens.  The dumplings are all cooked first in a tiny amount of oil until the bottom of the dumplings are just fractionally crispy and then water is added to the pan and they are covered and steamed.  Each order includes 10 fairly large dumplings.

I tried the Raviolis Vegetariens which are listed as being filled with Chouux (cabbage), ciboulette (chives) and Vermicelle noodles.  There was also, what I think was, tofu skin mixed into the filling.  The dumplings alone were quite good, with a nutritious cruciferous flavor to them, but were excellent when paired with the dipping sauce.  The chopped cabbage filling provided plenty of surface area for the dipping sauce to cling to, making these dumplings an excellent sauce delivery vehicle.  While the chef clearly has a vision for how much frying is appropriate for his dumplings, I would have preferred them a little more crispy fried on the bottom.   My French is very poor, so my efforts to find out whether the veggie dumplings were vegan were not successful.

The Dipping Sauce:  Each spot at the counter has a white ceramic tub of chili paste, and matching white bottles of vinegar and soy sauce from which you concoct you own personalized dipping sauce.  I found that a sauce that was a little heavier on the vinegar went really well with the vegetable dumplings.

The Location:  Ravioli de JUIN is in the Bastille neighborhood of Paris at 78 rue do Charonne.  If you are staying in the Bastille neighborhood and get tired of baguette, cheese, ham, crepes, cafes and bistros, Ravioli de JUIN is a good neighborhood spot for dumplings.

Posted in Pan Fried, Steamed, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Mimi Cheng’s, New York, NY

February Special at Mimi Cheng’s

I have previously reviewed Mimi Cheng’s but I was walking past this spot recently and their February Special Dumpling caught my eye.  This month’s Dumpling Special was inspired by wastED and was developed in collaboration with Blue Hill.  The dumplings are stuffed with ingredients that typically get composted during the prep process for Mimi Cheng’s other dumplings.  So the filling for the February Special Dumpling is bok choy ends, carrot ribbons, zucchini ends, kale stems, rice cooked in mushroom juice, and green cabbage outer leaves, with peanut miso sauce mixed in.  Half of the net proceeds from the February Special Dumpling will be donated to City Harvest, which feeds almost 1.4 million New Yorkers by rescuing food waste.

These dumplings were really excellent and I hope to squeeze another visit to Mimi Cheng’s in before February ends.  The rice in the filling gave the dumplings a really nice chewy mouth feel and the miso sauce provided a rich nutty, smokey, umami flavor.  However the veggies were still an integral part of the flavor mix, highlighting wastED’s mission to show that discarded, ignored or un-coveted ingredients can make an awesome dish. The dumplings come plated with toasted sesame seeds and slivered scallions.

The wastED inspired dumplings are only available in February so run down to Mimi Cheng’s and get them while they last.

Posted in New York City, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Hot Kitchen, New York, NY

HOT KITCHENHot Kitchen, is a minimalist canteen in whitewashed brick and red beams, that serves Sichuan and some Northwestern Chinese dishes.  The menu has an extensive array of traditional sounding dishes and a small American Chinese Food section; the NYTimes review from 2012 says there are 160-ish items on the menu.  

The service at Hot Kitchen was pretty weak the night I went.  I ordered some pan fried pork dumplings that never showed up, but the waiter kept stopping by the table and mentioning that he knew I ordered the dumplings.  It also took forever to get the check when we were ready to leave.

Pork Dumplings with Red Oil

Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil

The Dumplings:   Hot Kitchen serves; Pork Soup Dumplings Crabmeat and Pork Soup Dumplings,  Sichuan Steamed Pork Buns, Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil, Sichuan Wontons with Red Oil, Crystal Shrimp Dumplings, Steamed Pork Dumplings, Steamed Vegetable Dumplings, Pan Fried Pork Dumplings, and Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings.  The menu also lists Fried Little Buns, which sound like they might be Shanghai style buns but are actually small deep fried bread/sweet buns, served with a creamy sweet dipping sauce.

Pork Soup Dumplings

Pork Soup Dumplings

We ordered the Pork Soup Dumplings and the Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil and the aforementioned no-show Pork Dumplings.

The Pork Soup Dumplings were decent and prepared well; none of the dumplings arrived with their wrappers broken or leaking.  Each of the dumplings contained about a spoonful of somewhat thin pork soup, however the meat filling was tasty and had a great mouth feel.  The main deficit with these soup dumplings was that the wrappers were too thick and were stodgy.

The Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil are boiled, pork filled dumplings served in red chili oil sprinkled with scallions and sesame seeds.  The dumplings themselves were not spicy, just filled with a mild, finely minced pork.  But the red chili oil sauce was sensational, it was lip and tongue tingling spicy but also sweet and smoky.  These dumplings are worth a return visit, perhaps paired with the Sichuan Wontons with Red Oil.

The Location:  Hot Kitchen is in New York City’s East Village neighborhood on 2nd Ave and 6th street.  This area is replete with Polish and Ukrainian restaurants selling pierogies, Japanese Izakaya and hipster Chinese dumpling spots.

Posted in Chinese, New York City, Pork, Sichuan Dumplings, Soup Dumpling | Leave a comment

Golden Brand Frozen Potato and Onion Pierogies


Golden Pierogies

Golden Pierogies

Potato and Onion Pierogies

Potato and Onion Pierogies

Rating:  star_3_5

Golden Brand Frozen Pierogies are made by Old Fashioned Kitchen, Inc. which began in 1951 as a storefront business in Brooklyn making fresh blintzes for local bakeries and distributors.  These first blintzes were made on an eight-burner stove salvaged intact from the kitchens of a local hotel that was being demolished.  Today they make Blintzes, Potato Pancakes, Pierogies, and Dessert Crepes. All of their products are made under the supervision of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregation of America.  Their pierogi line-up includes; spinach and potato, potato and onion, potato and cheddar, and spinach, broccoli and cheddar.

I tried their potato and onion pierogies which were pretty good, but I thought the dough wrapper a little too thick and chewier than I like.  The potato filling was a light brown color, like mash-potatoes made with their skin, and had a sweet onion taste.  They are better if you pan-fry them after boiling them, rather than eating them just boiled.  The potato and onion pierogies are vegan.

Posted in Boiled, Frozen Dumpling Review, Pierogi | Leave a comment

Dumplings Around the World on the Insider.com

Insider.com has a nice list of dumplings around the world, light on text but has some nice pix.  See Here

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Guest Review – Beer Loves Gyoza, Tokyo, Japan

My friend just returned from an awesome looking trip to Japan and sent me this guest review of Beer Loves Gyoza.

Guest Review:  On a recent trip to Japan with my husband, I was traveling with my brother who is allergic to peanuts and fish. He’s had food allergies since birth, so he’s naturally been very cautious about trying new food. One of the safe things he can eat is gyoza, so we ended up at BLG (Beer Loves Gyoza) for dinner one night. They have a variety of different gyoza preparations, and many different beers to have them with.

We ended up ordering the oropon gyoza (ponzu and daikon on top), tomato and cheese deep fried gyoza (cream cheese, not mozzarella, which is what I was expecting), cilantro boiled gyoza, and the mentaiko mayonnaise gyoza (which my brother couldn’t have, on account of the mentaiko). We also ordered chahan (fried rice) which is excellent here!

Clockwise from top left: Cheese Deep Fried Gyoza, xxxx, Coriander Boiled Gyoza, Mentak, Tomato and

Clockwise from top left: Tomato and Cheese Deep Fried Gyoza, Oropon Gyoza, Cilantro Boiled Gyoza, and Mentaiko Mayonnaise Gyoza

I love the crust on the oropon and mentaiko gyoza — this makes every bite very crunchy (DH comment – these gyoza a cooked embedded in a thin layer of fried batter). If you’ve never had gyoza prepared this way, I highly recommend going to Ganso Ramen in Brooklyn and ordering it there.

I would pass on the tomato and cheese deep fried gyoza. The olive oil dipping sauce, while novel, wasn’t very good olive oil. Stick to the more traditional gyoza preparations. The chahan is essential to break up the gyoza, and we couldn’t stop eating it. We had two orders.

And make sure you order beer!

Beer Loves Gyoza (also called BLG) is easily accessible from Shinjuku station.

Shinjuku, 東京都 〒160-0023

Which in English is 1-15-13 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

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Assi Brand, Hot Cooked Vegetable Dumplings

Assi Brand Hot Cooked Vegetable Dumplings

Assi Brand Hot Cooked Vegetable Dumplings

Rating:  stars_5

Continuing my recent love affair with Assi Brand Frozen Dumplings, I picked up a bag of their Hot Cooked Vegetable Dumplings.  The Hot version is very similar in shape and ingredients to their Cooked Vegetable Dumplings.  They have the same traditional Korean mandoo half-moon shape and are filled with soy bean protein, leek, cabbage, sweet potato noodle, onion, green onion, cabbage, garlic, and ginger.  Essentially they are the Cooked Vegetable Dumplings with Hot added.  A lot of Korean dumplings are flavored with Kimchi and I was expecting the same here, but instead the Assi Brand Hot dumplings tasted like the spicy broth from packaged Nongshim Shin Ramyun Noodles.  (This is a great brand of packaged Ramen, and apparently in Korea an average of 80 bags of Shin Ramyun are eaten per person per year).  The hot dumplings flavor is a straight up hot red chili and black pepper, and there is a lot of it, these dumplings are the spiciest frozen dumplings I have tried, close to scorching.   Like the other Assi Brand vegetable dumplings the Hot variety is vegan.

Hot Vegetable Dumplings with Nongshim Soon Veggie Ramen

Hot Vegetable Dumplings with Nongshim Soon Veggie Ramen (vegan dumplings and vegan ramens)

Assi is the flagship brand of the Rhee Bros food company located in Maryland, USA.  Rhee Bros was founded in 1976 by a Korean student living in the U.S., who, to make ends meet, initially sold dried squid shipped to him from Korea by his mother. According to the Rhee Bros website, Assi is derived from the traditional title for a young sophisticated woman.

Posted in Frozen Dumpling Review, Kimchi, Korea, Mandoo, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

2016 Dumpling Round-Up

With 2016 coming to an end it is time look back at the best and worst dumplings of the year.

Pork and Kimchi Soup Dumplings

Pork and Kimchi Soup Dumplings

Top raviolis were eaten at Vinateria in Harlem, their Ravioli in Brodo were sensational.  The best vegetarian dumplings were at The Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, in Florence, MA. Although not reviewed this year, I had a lot of great vegetable dumplings at New York’s Xi’an Famous Food. The best Xiao Long Bao were at La Salle Dumpling Room, in New York’s Morningside Heights neighborhood, their Pork and Kimchi Soup Dumpling was amazing. Izakaya Restaurant in New York’s East Village served up the best fried gyoza – stuffed with tuna and cheese. Best Sticky Rice Shu Mai honors go to the awesomely named Kung Fu Steamed Little Buns Ramen in New Yorks Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.  Finally top honors for dipping sauce go to Japanese Oriental Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio

The worst dumplings of 2015 were eaten at Uncle Luoyang in New York’s Manhattan Valley neighborhood, although close runners up were China Chilcano in Washington, DC and Dim Sum Go Go in New York’s Chinatown.

Posted in Best of, Kimchi, Ravioli, Shumai, Soup Dumpling, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Grub Street, Best Dumplings in NYC

tianjin_dumplingGrub Street, one of the NY Magazine websites, just published its list of The Absolute Best Dumplings in New York. Its a list of 50 place to get dumplings, buns, tortellini, agnolotti, ravioli, kreplach, spaetzle, momo, khinkali, pierogi, and varenyky.  I think they have basically mapped out my eating out for 2017.  They also recently published an interesting series of side-bars about dumplings entitled “It’s a Wonderful Time to Be a Dumpling“.

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Assi Brand, Cooked Vegetable Dumplings


Assi Brand Cooked Vegetable Dumplings

Rating: stars_5

I really enjoyed the Assi Brand Vege Potstickers and so recently grabbed a bag of  Assi Brand Cooked Vegetable Dumplings.  Assi is the flagship brand of the Rhee Bros food company located in Maryland, USA.  Rhee Bros was founded in 1976 by a Korean student living in the U.S., who, to make ends meet, initially sold dried squid shipped to him from Korea by his mother. According to the Rhee Bros website, Assi is derived from the traditional title for a young sophisticated woman.

Assi Cooked Vegetable Dumplings in soup

Assi Cooked Vegetable Dumplings in soup

Pan fried Assi Cooked Vegetable Dumplings

Pan fried Assi Cooked Vegetable Dumplings

This variety of dumpling has a traditional Korean mandoo half-moon shape and are cooked by laying them flat side down on a fry pan or by boiling them in a soup.  They are filled with soy bean protein, leek, cabbage, vermicelli, onion, green onion, garlic, sesame oil and ginger and are vegan.  Like the Assi Vege Potstickers, the Cooked Vegetable Dumplings are not a leafy green vegetable dumpling but rather are a convincing faux pork and scallion dumpling.  They actually have a meatier texture than some of the hyper-processed frozen pork gyoza you get at Japanese restaurants.  These dumplings worked equally well pan fried or in soup with rice cakes, scallions and zucchini.

These is an excellent frozen dumpling, that eats like a really tasty pork and leak mandoo for vegans.

Posted in Frozen Dumpling Review, Mandoo, Vegan, Vegetarian | 4 Comments