Yasha Ramen, New York, NY

The Yasha Ramen signage

The Yasha Ramen signage

My recent attempt to hunt for dumplings on the Upper West Side of Manhattan turned out to be kind of a fail until I hit Yasha Ramen.  My first stop, La Salle Dumpling Room, was packed with families in town for the Columbia University graduation and there was an hour wait. My next attempt to score dumplings was at Sun Chan, which turned out to be closed because of a gas main problem which had shut down the entire block.  Then I tried Uncle Luoyang, which I have been meaning to try for a while, but I guess I delayed to long because it has gone out of business.  After walking about a mile and a half I found Yasha Ramen, a small ramen joint just south of Columbia University.

Takoyaki

Takoyaki

Steamed pork shumai

Steamed pork shumai

The Dumplings:  Yasha servers takoyaki, shrimp shumai and pork shumai and a dumpling bowl which consists of either fried shrimp or pork shumai in a bowl of rice with cabbage, kale and spicy mayo.  The takoyaki were small but had a good octopus to fried batter ratio. Unfortunately the takoyaki were relatively unadorned and light on mayo and bonito flakes.  They could have used a bit more dressing, but they were tasty and did come on a really cool plate.  The steamed pork shumai filling had pieces of water chestnut mixed in, which gave them a nice crunch texture. I use a similar recipe for my shrimp dumplings.  I have been trying to reduce my salt intake lately so maybe my palette is a little off, but I found the pork filling to be very salty.

The Dipping Sauce:  The plate the shumai were served on had a built in sauce bowl filled with a mix of soy sauce and vinegar. It came with a little dab of mustard to mix in the dipping sauce, which was a really good addition to the shumai.

The Location: Yasha Ramen is in the Manhattan Valley neighborhood between 106th and 107th Streets.  There are a couple of good bars on the block, which is handy because they do not have a liquor license.

Posted in Japanese, New York City, Shumai, Takoyaki | Leave a comment

NY Times: Savory Doughnuts

Expanding the argument about the boundaries of the definition of dumplings, the NY Times just published a short piece about the savory filled doughnuts, or doughpods, which just had their debut at Doughnut Plant.  They make an avocado filled pod, which is like an encapsulated avocado toast, and a samosa pod, which is filled with potato and fresh fenugreek.

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Izakaya Restaurant, New York, NY

Dumpling of the Day at Izakaya Restaurant

Dumpling of the Day at Izakaya Restaurant

Izakaya Restaurant, which basically translates into Restaurant Restaurant, is part of the expanding ecosystem of Japanese restaurants and bars in New York City’s East Village neighborhood. The Izakaya Restaurant is run by a young Japanese guy who came to our table and explained his philosophy for restaurateur-ing and the background on all of the dishes we ordered.  His “Addictive Cabbage” starter dish has garnered a lot of press and internet-love and was really quite amazing.  He told us that the challenge he set himself and his cooks was to create a cabbage dish where the cabbage is not cooked or marinated.  The solution was to extensively and repeatedly wash and massage the cabbage and serve it dressed in sesame oil with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.  He told us that if we didn’t like the Addictive Cabbage we should just get up and walk out of his restaurant and he would understand that the cabbage was not good enough.  I really enjoyed everything we had at Izakaya Restaurant and the menu is pretty deep, so there is more to go back for.

The Dumplings:  The menu only lists one dumpling option, the “dumplings of the day”. The night that we went the waiter told us the dumplings were filled with tuna.  In reality the dumplings were filled with lots of blue cheese and a small amount flaky tuna.  These deep fried dumplings were really enjoyable, they had a strong melted blue cheese flavor with a mild undertone of tuna.  Eating these dumplings was like eating a inverse fondue, the fondue cheese came inside the crispy dipping cracker.  Like everything we tried, the dumplings were  artfully plated and came in a wicker basket.

The Dipping Sauce:  I liked the blue cheese flavor and fondue experience so much that I don’t even recall if they came with a dipping sauce.

The Location:  Saint Marks Place and East Ninth Street have been home to a bunch of Japanese bars and restaurants for a long time, but for the past couple of years this hip Japan-town area has been spreading North, South and East.  Izakaya Restaurant is on East Sixth Street between First and Second Avenue. The restaurant doesn’t have much in the way of signage so look for street number 326 on the south side of the street.

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Return to The Real Le Anh Chinese Food Cart, Philadelphia, PA

Since my last trip to Philly the diverse ecosystem of food carts and trucks around the University of Pennsylvania seems to have contracted some.  The number of carts has gone down and the diversity has diminished, and worse of all there is a proliferation of “New York City Halal Carts”.  Come on Philly get it together – why are there no carts selling hoagies laden with pork, broccoli rabe and provolone cheese?

Lots of greens

Lots of greens

Dumplings doused in ginger brown sauce

Dumplings doused in ginger brown sauce

Luckily The Real Le Anh Chinese Food Cart is still there selling great Chinese lunch plates (original review here).  Last time I tried the daily special Crab and Cheese Dumplings, but this time I went vegan and got the home made vegetable dumplings.  There is the choice of boiled or fried for the pork, chicken or vegetable dumplings that Le Anh sells. I went with fried which meant the dumplings were first par-boiled and then deep fried.  I was pretty much blown away by these dumplings, better even than the Crab and Cheese Dumplings.  They were filled with Chinese cabbage and greens, no flavored tofu or minced mushroom filler, just nutritious greens.  The dumplings were served doused in a ladle full of thick brown, ginger flavored sauce/gravy.  This is how the Crab and Cheese Dumplings were served too, so this appears to be the Le Anh standard serving style.  The vegetable filling was able to stand up to the ginger sauce and provide a slightly bitter retort to the sweet sauce.  Avoid the NYC wanna-be Halal rice and meat plate carts and go to The Real Le Anh Chinese Food Cart. 

Philly, whay are you importing NYC Halal Food Carts?

Philly, why are you importing NYC Halal Food Carts?

Posted in Chinese, Philadelphia, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Return to M Shanghai Bistro and Garden, Brooklyn NY

Spicy Wontons

Spicy Wontons

About a year ago I went to see a show in Williamsburg Brooklyn and stumbled upon M Shanghai Bistro and Garden.   Last time around I was pretty impressed with both the quality of the dumplings they were turning out and with the depth of their dumpling menu.  I recently caught another show in Williamsburg and returned to M Shanghai to try some more dumplings.  This time around I tried the Spicy Wontons which come as either pork or vegetable (vegan) wontons – I went with the vegetable wontons.  It is a little dark in M Shanghai but I think the filling was comporised of spinach and mushrooms.  The wontons were really good but the spicy sauce was disappointing.  Instead of a hot chili oil sauce, it was similar to the sauce you get on cold sesame noodles, probably a mix of sesame oil (or maybe tahini) and peanut butter, and had only the barest hint of spice.

The complete dumpling menu at M Shanghai is:

Steamed or Fried Pork Dumplings
Steamed or Fried Vegetable Dumplings
Steamed or Fried Seafood Dumplings
Crispy Fried Chive and Egg Dumplings
Steamed Juicy Pork Buns
Steamed Vegetable Buns
Shanghai Vegetarian Wonton Soup
Shanghai Pork Wonton Soup
Spicy Wontons
Chicken Shu-Mai
Pork Shu Mai
Vegetable Shu-Mai
Sticky Rice Shu-Mai

I like M Shanghai but the Spicy Wontons are not their best dumpling offering.  During this trip I also tried the Sautéed Pea Leaves with Fresh Garlic which was really good.

Posted in Vegan, Vegetarian, Wontons | Leave a comment

Return to Kung Fu Steamed Little Buns Ramen, New York, NY

Shanghai Shu Mai and Shanghai Pan-Fried Pork Buns

Shanghai Shu Mai and Shanghai Pan-Fried Pork Buns

Steamed Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings and Pan Fried Pork Dumplings

Steamed Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings and Pan Fried Pork Dumplings

Kung Fu Steamed Little Buns Ramen has probably got the best name in the dumpling making game.  I previously reviewed Kung Fu back in June 2014, but one and even two reviews are not enough to cover all of the available dumpling options.  This time I tried the sticky rice shao mai, the crab meat and pork soup dumplings, the pan fried pork dumplings, and a repeat try of the Shanghai pan fried pork buns.

The sticky rice shao mai are filled with seasoned gluttonous rice, shredded pork and chopped Chinese sausage, basically a Chinese version of Southern Dirty  Rice.  This is my favorite style of shao mai and Kung Fu does a excellent, home made, version of this dumpling.  The sticky rice filling was savory with little flecks of sweet and salty sausage mixed in.  The shao mai were big and burly, at least three bites per dumpling.

The soup in the crab and pork soup dumplings was like a creamy, long simmered, pork bone Tonkotsu Ramen broth – WITH CRAB ADDED – it was amazing.  Kung Fu puts a full Chinese soup spoon worth of soup into each dumpling and there was enough crab meat mixed into the pork filling that it seemed like I could taste the ocean in these dumplings.  The wrappers were also perfect, they were thin and supple but didn’t rip open and spill the soup when I picked them up.

Considering that both the soup dumplings and the Shanghai pan fried buns contain soup, juicy seems to be the theme of this post, and the pan fried pork dumplings were some of the juiciest Guo Tie I’ve tried.   Inside the crispy fried outer layer of the wrapper the dough was thicker and fluffier than a typical Japanese gyoza style pan fried dumpling and six of these will fill you up.  The pork filling was savory, salty, sweet and juicy, so juicy they were close to being soup dumplings, they were excellent.

Posted in Buns, Chinese, Pan Fried, Pork, Shanghai, Shumai, Soup Dumpling | Leave a comment

40,000th Page View

 
Yesterday Dumpling Hunter had its 40,000th page view.  I never thought the blog would last this long and see so many visitors. Thank you all for loving dumplings and for supporting my blog. 

– Dumpling Hunter

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Japanese Oriental Restaurant, Columbus, Ohio

Japanese Oriental Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio

Japanese Oriental Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio

I recently attended a conference at Ohio State University and imagined I would spend a pleasant evening drinking at a college pub, German Bier Hall or local sports bar near campus.  Instead I discovered that the strip of bars and restaurants bordering the OSU campus was a wasteland of chain and fast casual restaurants, Buffalo Wild Wings anyone? After 45 minutes on foot hunting for anything local, unique or different I finally came across the painfully named Japanese Oriental Restaurant.  JOR is primarily a Korean restaurant with a sushi bar and handful of Japanese dishes on the kitchen menu.  The soon doo boo (spicy tofu stew) was really good with a lot of mushrooms, and seafood and pork, but alas no raw egg to slowly cook in the boiling broth. Finding this place saved my culinary evening and given the limited choices around campus, if you find yourself looking for dinner around OSU head to JOR.

Fried Pork Dumplings

Fried Pork Dumplings

JOR's awesome dipping sauce

JOR’s awesome dipping sauce

The Dumplings:  JOR sells Crab Rangoon and fried pork dumplings.  The pork dumplings are pretty standard pork and scallion Japanese-style gyoza.  They appear to deep fry their dumplings so that the wrapper is entirely crispy.  The dumplings were solid but not remarkable, the filling was juicy and savory, but a little bland. But where the dumplings excelled was as a delivery vehicle for the superior dipping sauce JOR makes.

The Dipping Sauce:  JOR serves a dipping sauce they make of soy, a little vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds and Korean red chili powder.  The dipping sauce was a flavor bomb – salty, sour, spicy and smoky.  The sauce completely elevated the otherwise indifferent dumplings to a great appetizer dish.

The Location: Japanese Oriental Restaurant is just east of the Columbus, Ohio, OSU campus, on North High Street between West Northwood Ave and West Oakland Ave.

Posted in Gyoza, Japanese, Korea, Mandoo, Pork | Leave a comment

Potato and Leek Pierogi Recipe

Leek and Potato Pierogi

Leek and Potato Pierogi

Pan fried leek and potato pierogi.

Pan fried leek and potato pierogi.

This is a pretty quick potato pierogi recipe that uses pre-made round Chinese  dumpling wrappers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb New Yellow potatoes,
  • 2 Leeks
  • 1/2 cup milk or soy milk,
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine,
  • 1 pack of Chinese dumpling wrapper,
  • salt and pepper,

Directions:

  1. Chop off the tough green stalk off the leeks so you have the white and light green portion of them.  Split the leeks length wise and clean the dirt from within the layers of the leeks. Sliver the leeks and saute them until they start to caramelize.
  2. Place the potatoes in boiling water and cook until soft and can be pierced easily with a fork.
  3. Mash the potatoes with the milk and butter and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mix the sauteed leeks into the mashed potato.
  5. Place a dumpling wrapper flat on a plate and add a heaping table spoon of the mashed potato and leek mixture on the wrapper.  Dab water on the outer edge of the wrapper.  Lay a second wrapper on top and press the edges of the wrappers together.  Press fork tines down on the outer edges of the wrappers to seal the edges closed.
  6. Pan fry the pierogis on each side then add a little water to the pan steam them.
Posted in Pierogi, Recipe, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

National Empanada Day

Jambalya Empanadas

Jambalya Empanadas

Dammit, Friday the 8th was National Empanada Day and I missed it.  Despite some disagreement from readers, I have maintained that empanadas (and related products – Pasty, Piroshkies, and Samosas) are a form of dumpling worthy of hunting.  Empanadas have been with us for a long time, a cookbook published in 1520 in Catalan, the Libre del Coch by Ruperto de Nola, mentions empanadas filled with seafood.  It is unclear who originally created or sanctioned National Empanada Day, but the web is crowded with stories about the Best or Top empanada;  NJ.Com posted an article on the ten best Empanadas in NJ.  On of my favorites in NYC is Nuchus Empanadas.

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