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.

西新宿1-15-13
西新宿島田ビルB1
Shinjuku, 東京都 〒160-0023
Japan

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.

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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

photo-dec-11-12-50-41-pm

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

The Return of YAKITORI SUN CHAN!

At long last, after problems with a Con Ed gas line put then out of commission for six months, Yakitori Sun Chan is back!  There has been much rejoicing at Dumpling Hunter.

Clockwise from top left: Salmon suhi rolls; grilled Shishito pepers; garlic, gingko nut and scallion skewers; Oshitaki

Some other dishes ordered by our table, clockwise from top left: Salmon sushi rolls; grilled Shishito peppers; garlic, ginkgo nut and scallion skewers; Oshitaki

The Con Ed issues shut down several businesses on the block, but most places were able to re-open within a week or two, it not clear why Sun Chan was shut for so long.  But no matter, the best izakaya on the West Side is back (see my original review here) and it is packed with happy locals getting their izakaya fix.  To help come back after their struggles, Sun Chan is asking that customers pay cash so that credit card fees can be avoided and they can keep the profits in the business.

Sun Chan serves a great Kimchi Buta (stir fried kimchi, scallions and pork belly),  really good grilled rice balls stuffed with cod roe and some excellent meat skewers; the duck, the salmon with scallion and the pork belly are my favorite skewers. On the dumpling front, they serve Pork Gyoza, Vegetable Gyoza, Shrimp Shumai, Wasabi Shumai and Takoyaki. For this outing I reintroduced myself to some of my favorite dishes and tried the vegetable gyoza.

Veggie Gyoza

Veggie Gyoza

Shrimp Shumai

Shrimp Shumai

The dark green gyoza the waitress brought to the table looked a lot like the frozen veggie gyoza than I see on the kitchen appetizer section of a lot of Japanese sushi restaurants.  But I think these were different than the ones I have had elsewhere, they were less of dark forest green and had more tofu and cabbage than the usual ones I see around town.  The dumplings were fried crispy golden brown and crunchy on the bottom and the tops were soft and supple from the steaming.  I quite enjoyed these dumplings.

My dining companion ordered the shrimp shu mai. I did not try these; after a bit of pork dumpling eating streak over the past few weeks I was trying to keep it vegetarian.  But they they looked good though and he reported that they were tasty.

Sun Chan is on Broadway between 103rd and 104th streets in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood.  My guess is that it is the northern-most Izakaya in Manhattan – uptown yakitori, Japanese bar snacks, shoju and sushi.

 

 

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Epic Dumpling Taste Test Video

I just came across this really funny video reviewing various brands and varieties of frozen dumplings.  My favorite review is.. “..it was like a bomb of kimchi..”.

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Uncle Luoyang, NY, NY

uncle_luoyangIf I had ordered three types of dumplings, I suspect Uncle Luoyang’s would have been an epic fail, but since I only got two plates of bad dumplings, they only rate as a normal fail.

I had high expectations for Uncle Luoyang, its food truck that sets up outside of Columbia University gets great reviews online and it always has a long line of international students from China waiting for orders.  The restaurant has multiple menus; BBQ skewers, counter sushi bar, all-you-can-eat sushi, dim sum, hot pot, Japanese kitchen dishes and Chinese dishes.  There are a couple of typos on the menu, for instance the the Pork Dumplings with Chili Oil at $3.95 is actually Scallion Pancakes.

Pork Dumplings with Chili Oil

Pork Dumplings with Chili Oil

The Dumplings:  the menus have a lot of dumplings on offer, I tried the Pork Dumplings with Chili Oil and the Steamed Crab Meat Pork Buns, which are soup dumplings.

Pork Dumplings With Chili Oil – these boiled or steamed pork gyoza style dumplings were served piled in a small steep sided bowl with what appeared to be pure chili oil in the bottom of the bowl. This plating was poorly conceived, the bowl was too small to mix the dumplings and oil together, so the dumplings piled on top didn’t have much contact with the oil and were bland and the dumplings in the bottom of the bowl became saturated with oil.  Usually the sauce in this type of dish is a flavorful mix of chili oil, soy sauce and sesame paste.  Unfortunately, here the dumplings soaking in the oil at the bottom of the bowl absorbed so much oil eating them was like doing a shot of pure chili oil – basically they were inedible.

Steamed Crab Meat and Pork Buns

Steamed Crab Meat and Pork Buns

Steamed Crab Meat Pork Buns – When the waitress opened the bamboo steamer I immediately saw that the dumpling wrappers were full of holes and looked moth-eaten and all the soap had leaked out.  The dumplings had either been sitting for a while and had been re-heated and fallen apart or had been radically over steamed.  I sent them back.

The Location:  Uncle Luoyang’s is on Amsterdam Avenue between 105th and 106th streets in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood.  Their food truck sets up on Broadway between 116th and 117th streets just north of Columbia University’s main entrance.

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Grand Sichuan 74, New York, NY

Wonton's in Red Chili Oil

Wonton’s in Red Chili Oil

Grand Sichuan 74 is a no ambiance joint that is part of the Grand Sichuan mini-chain in New York City. Apparently each of the Grand Sichuan restaurants has the same Sichuan style base menu but has their own executive chef that adds addition dishes. Grand Sichuan 74’s menu includes dishes from Chong Qing, a large municipality that was part of the Sichuan Province until the late 1990s.  Chong Qing has its own regional style of Sichuan food, notably a style of hot pot.  Grand Sichuan 74’s menu includes General Tso’s Chicken and Orange Flavored Beef, so they have taken the route of offering typical Americanized-Chinese dishes as a gateway to some more adventurous Sichuan dishes (e.g. Chong Qing Sliced Fish And Sour Cabbage or Spicy Mung Bean Noodle or Ox Tongue & Tripe).

Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings

Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings

The Dumplings:  The appetizer section of Grand Sichuan 74’s menu has a pretty extensive dumpling list; Crabmeat & Pork Soup Dumpling, Pork Soup Dumpling, Sichuan Wonton with Red Oil, Steamed or Fried Pork Dumpling, Steamed Shrimp Dumpling, Steamed or Fried Vegetable Dumpling, and Roast Pork Bun.

Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings – These veggie dumplings were mainly filled with a shredded white cabbage, with some greens and flecks of carrot mixed in.  Both the wrapper and the filling had a mushy consistency and the filling tasted like overcooked cabbage; they had that same sulfurous smell too. On top of the overcooked cabbage flavor, these dumplings also tasted of old burnt cooking oil.  I do not recommend trying these dumplings.

Pork Shu Mai - You can see the wrapper sagging away from the filling between my chop sticks

Pork Shu Mai – You can see the wrapper between my chop sticks sagging away from the filling.

Pork Shu Mai – Each of these steamed Shu Mai was adorned with a green pea or two and was filled with a dense ball of pork with carrot mixed into it.  There was a problem with the wrappers on these Shu Mai, as I picked each one up the wrapper sagged away from the filling and fell off the meat ball, back into the cabbage leaf lined steamer.  This was not a chop-stick user error, but a defect in either the consistency of the wrapper or the folding and attachment of the wrapper to the filling.  The Shu Mai were also really greasy, so I ended up with a pile of broken wrapper dough laying in pools of grease that had collected on the cabbage leaves that lined the bottom of the steamer.

Wonton in Red Chili Oil

Wonton in Red Chili Oil

Wonton in Red Oil – OK, the best for last.  Grand Sichuan 74 uses relatively large and floppy wontons so there was a good amount of noodle to mop the sauce up with and the pork in the wonton tasted great.  The sauce was a mix of chili oil, soy and probably sesame paste or tahini.  The chili oil was flavorful and packed a punch, by the end of eating the dish my lips and tongue felt a solid burn.  There was just the right amount of sesame paste in the sauce so it had a velvety smooth, creamy texture and some nutty sesame flavor, without going overboard and producing a sauce that was thick and gloppy.  When I used the Fried Vegetable Dumplings to mop up the chili oil that remained after I ate the wontons, the sauce was tasty enough that the veggie dumplings actually tasted OK.  I would certainly get these wontons again.

The Dipping Sauce:  The Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings came with a standard soy based dipping sauce that was quite strong tasting, but was not able to hide the sulfurous and burnt oil taste of the dumplings.

The Location:  Sichuan Grand 74 is on Amsterdam Avenue between 74th and 75th streets on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  This area of Manhattan has tons of Chinese restaurants that I have been touring over the past few months.

Posted in New York City, Pan Fried, Pork, Shumai, Sichuan Dumplings, Vegetarian, Wontons | Leave a comment