Return to Naruto Ramen, New York, NY

Pan fried veggie dumplings

Pan fried veggie dumplings

The day after the blizzard in New York City seemed like the perfect time for a bowl of ramen at Naruto Ramen (full review of Naruto Ramen here).  As a starter we tried the pan fried veggie dumplings.  They use pre-made wrappers, but make the filling and construct the dumplings in house.  The dumplings are filled with minced green veggies without any tofu based attempt to provide a meat substitute – an order of these dumplings is a full serving of veggies.   Overall they were good, but a little too salty and a little under fried; they could have used another minute of frying.  Naruto Ramen’s veggie dumplings are vegan.

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Duk Mandoo Gook (Rice Cake Soup With Dumplings) Recipe

Duk Mandoo Gook

Duk Mandoo Gook

Duk Mandoo Gook is a soup with sliced rice cakes and dumplings and served during Korean New Year.  Lunar New Year in 2016, is Monday February 8th. Traditionally families gather on New Year’s day to make dumplings; several of the recipes posted here would be appropriate for this soup or you can use frozen dumplings.  The soup broth is commonly made using beef bones, but here I present a vegan version of the soup.

This recipe serves two.

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bao Long brand Sup Chay bouillon cube (see Here)
  • 1/2 Onion, sliced
  • 1/2 Zucchini, julienned and then cut into strips
  • Scallions,  white and green sections, julienned
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tblsp Sesame oil
  • 1 Tblsp Soy sauce
  • 1/2 pound Korean rice cakes
  • 6-8 Mandoo, frozen ones work well

Recipe

  1. In a pot lightly saute garlic and onions in olive oil until lightly wilted.
  2. Add three cups of water, the bouillon cube, the sesame oil and the soy sauce to the pot.
  3. Once the soup is boiling add the rice cakes and bring the soup back to a boil and cook until the rice cakes are soft.
  4. Add the frozen Mandoo and bring the soup back to a boil, add the slivered zucchini and scallions, and cook for another minute or two until the dumplings are cooked through.
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Haioreum Frozen Dumplings, Kimchi and Vegetable Styles

Photo Jan 02, 7 09 15 PM

Haioreum frozen dumplings

Rating:  stars_4

Photo Dec 31, 7 25 48 PM

Steamed vegetable mandoo (green) and kimchi mandoo (pink)

Haioreum appears to be the house brand of the H Mart chain of Asian grocery stores.  H Marts are known for giving out lots of free samples on weekends and my local one is my favorite place to grocery shop.  The chain began in 1982 in Woodside, Queens, New York City as a small corner grocery store and now has over 40 locations.  H Mart stands for Han Ah Reum, which means “One Arm Full of Groceries”.

The last time I was in H Mart I grabbed a bag of Haioreum vegetable mandoo and a bag of Haioreum kimchi mandoo, both of which are vegan.  Both styles were solid, good dumplings, although they didn’t really distinguish themselves from other frozen mandoo I have tried. Of the two, I liked the vegetable ones the best.

The kimchi ones are filled with standard napa cabbage kimchi, noodles, tofu and dried radish and were pretty mild and not particularly spicy. These are kimchi dumplings for people who haven’t yet developed a taste for kimchi.  The vegetable ones were the better of the two styles and are filled with dried radish, noodles, tofu, cabbage, green onion, leeks, onion, garlic, sesame and ginger. The vegetable mandoo tasted of sweet onions and leeks mixed with a mild cabbage flavor, they were quite good.

 

 

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Lollicup, Denver, CO

A friend of the Blog sent in this review for Lollicup in Denver, CO.

Pork dumplings at Lollicup

Pork dumplings at Lollicup

Lollicup on Colorado Blvd. in Denver, CO is a small tea house catering to a young demographic. The atmosphere is playful with a foosball machine, racks of Japanese anime books, and original paintings on the walls done by the staff. The menu is limited to boba drinks, milk teas, hot tea, coffee, and only two kinds of dumplings: red bean and pork. I had the large, round, steamed pork dumplings. The dough was soft and just the right thickness to make a slightly sweet, yeasty pillow around the filling. The filling is a balanced, juicy mix of ground pork, chopped zucchini, cabbage, green onions, and shitake mushrooms. There is just enough filling to make the dumpling hearty and satisfying. It was served with a house-made ginger soy with green onion and enough red pepper flakes to give it a little kick.

If searching for dumplings in Denver, I would not rank Lollicup among the top 3 destinations; however, I would not expect to find the very best dumpling on Colorado Blvd. The neighborhood is very gentrified and most of the cuisine is Americanized. Lollicup does make very good boba drinks, however, and the dumplings are not disappointing. 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Bunn Reborn as Mama

Kimchi bun

Kimchi bun


Packed with kimchi

The steamed bun take-out kiosk at Food Gallery 32 (on 32nd Street in New York’s Korea Town) started life as Bunch, then added Gua Bao to the menu and renamed itself Bunn and then recently expanded to add Taiyaki (a fish shaped pastry filled with red beans or custard) to the menu and became Mama.  Throughout the evolution they have served large, fist sized steamed buns from their open kitchen/steam room.  They serve five or six different buns and the kimchi and sweet potato buns are both vegan.

If you get the kimchi bun, you better like kimchi, the buns are large and packed with a lot of nappa kimchi and some glass noodles. They use a good, spicy kimchi and the bun dough wrapper is light and fluffy.  So it is a good bun but it is a lot of kimchi, I preferred the bacon and kimchi bun (the bacon cuts the kimchi) and the spicy pork bun.  Be careful eating these buns they are piping hot when they come out of the steamer.

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Shanghai Restaurant, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Shanghai Restaurant in Playa Del Carmen

The mom, pop and son restaurant Shanghai Restaurant pioneered Chinese food in the late 90’s in Mexico’s Playa Del Carmen.  The food is essentially mom’s home cooking with dad cranking out dumpling wrappers and noodles on an old school hand cranked pasta maker; it appears that they make everything from scratch.  Shanghai Restaurant is a tiny place with seating for about 12 and a hot counter that runs during lunch.  It was the “Special Home Made Noodle” sign in the window that convinced me to give it a try and it turned out the vegetable chow mein, the fish with garlic sauce and the dumplings were outstanding.  Oddly enough they also seem to sell hats, they have a display of them just inside the door.  Between the home cooked feel of the place, the really friendly owners and the excellent food, I expect that this will be one of my top picks for 2016. Continue reading

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Return to Wild Ginger, New York, NY

Wontons stuffed with soy cheese, spinach and watercress

Wontons stuffed with soy cheese, spinach and watercress

Stuffed with spinach and soy cheese

Stuffed with spinach and soy cheese

For the vegan in New York City Wild Ginger’s menu provides breadth and depth, almost everything I have tried has been really good.  I previously reviewed Wild Ginger when I tried their steamed vegetable dumplings and vegetable shumai, which were good but I don’t think they are homemade.  During my most recent visit I tried the fried wontons stuffed with soy cheese, spinach and watercress.

While I admit that these dumplings sounded gross to me and I had to be convinced to order them by my dining companion, they turned out to be really good; better than their vegetable dumplings or the shumai.  The filling was mainly comprised of spinach and I didn’t notice any peppery watercress flavor, but the spinach mixed with the creamy, American cheese style soy cheese was really tasty.  The wontons were perfectly deep fried and crispy and crunchy without any oiliness.  The menu suggests that these wontons are homemade and judging from the non-uniformity of the folding (you can see this in the picture) I don’t think they are factory made.

The wontons are served with a mango dipping sauce which I thought was pretty bad.  It appeared to be pureed mango and was hot dog mustard yellow in color.  The sweet mango flavor did not compliment the dumplings in any way.

Wild Ginger’s Manhattan location is on Broome Street between Mott and Mulberry, at the Northern edge of Chinatown, and their Brooklyn location is on Smith Street in Brooklyn.

 

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Best of the Year: 2015

With 2015 coming to an end it is time look back at the best and worst dumplings of the year.

Best Overall Dumpling:  The winner for the year is Nishida Sho Ten‘s pork gyoza which are served fried into a thin layer of crispy, crunchy batter.  This spot also has excellent Takoyaki and some of the best onigiri I’ve sampled so far.  Nishida Sho Ten‘s location in mid-town far east, near the UN, makes it a pain to get to, but totally work the trip.

Pork gyoza embedded in a crispy creppe

Pork gyoza embedded in a crispy creppe

Best Vegan Dumpling:  Peacefood wins for vegan dumpling.  It is unclear why the menu lists them as “Shanghai Dumplings”, they resemble none of the styles of dumplings found in Shanghai, but they are really, really good.  Peacefood has a weak burger and terrible service; the staff mainly hang out and ignore the customers.  Its difficult to place an order at Peacefood, but if you can get the staff’s attention order the dumplings.

Peacefood Cafe's Shanghai Style Dumplings

Peacefood Cafe’s Shanghai Style Dumplings

Best Vegetarian Dumpling:  Xi’an Famous Food‘s vegetarian dumplings were just edged out for Best Overall for 2015 by Nishida, but they easily win Best Vegetarian.  Their dumplings are packed with spinach, probably an entire day’s worth of vegetables are in each order, and the spicy and sour sauce they are doused in is amazing.

Spicy and Sour Vegetable Dumplings

Spicy and Sour Vegetable Dumplings

Best Wontons:  The wontons in hot chili oil at Dumplings and Things were excellent. They take an unconventional approach to the wonton wrapper, but their wrapping style makes it easier to sop up their deeply flavored sauce.

Dumplings and Things pork wontons

Dumplings and Things pork wontons

Worst of the Year:  Chopsticks on Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos sells some deeply bad dumplings.  I have seen better looking dumplings at airport terminal food courts in the Mid-West.

Posted in Gyoza, Japanese, New York City, Pork, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wontons | Leave a comment

Winsor Dim Sum Cafe and China Pearl, Boston MA

Pork Shumai at the Winsor

Pork Shumai at the Winsor

I have previously given Boston’s top two rated dim sum houses, China Pearl and Winsor Dim Sum Cafe, pretty mediocre reviews.   But after a long night of celebrating the holidays in Boston some dumplings seemed like just the thing to take the edge off the impending hangover. Since the Winsor and the China Pearl  were the only spots open early on a Tuesday morning, I gave them another shot.  Unexpectedly the food at both places was better on a slow Tuesday morning than on the packed Sunday mornings when I have previously been to these restaurants.  Or maybe it was just the restorative properties of salt, fried food and pork working their magic on me.

Pan fried pork dumplings at the Winsor

Pan fried pork dumplings at the Winsor

A lot of the items on the menu at the Winsor weren’t available this time around, perhaps because it was a slow Tuesday over the Christmas break.  The pork shumai and the pan fried pork dumplings were available and were really good.  The pan fried dumplings were large and cooked gyoza style, with the flat bottoms of the dumplings pan fried almost to the point of being blackened, while the topside of the dumplings were steam cooked.  I really enjoyed how the flavor of the charred wrapper mixed with the juicy, well seasoned pork filling.

A shrimp ball at China Pearl

A shrimp ball at China Pearl

The China Pearl was also serving a reduced menu, this time around they didn’t have the hot table serving seafood set up.  We tried the steamed shrimp balls served from the carts that circulate between the tables.   The shrimp balls are crystal shrimp style dumplings that are round and pleated like soup dumplings and are served with a single garden pea balanced on the top.  The shrimp balls were really good and I highly recommend them.  The filling was made of chunks of shrimp that tasted sweet and fresh and popped when I bit into them.  The rice flour crystal wrappers were strong enough to hold together the filling, but weren’t thick and gummy.

In my last review of the China Pearl I wrote “The various fried dishes we tried were greasy and heavy, and for several of them the cook seemed to have a heavy hand with the MSG.”   But for this outing the fried dishes were light and fresh tasting; the salt and pepper fried head-on shrimp were excellent.  The shrimp are not available from the dim sum carts and have to be ordered from a waiter.

Salt and pepper head-on shrimp at the China Pearl

Salt and pepper head-on shrimp at the China Pearl

 

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Naruto Ramen, New York, NY

Dodging flying slices of fish cake Matrix stylee

Dodging flying slices of fish cake Matrix stylee

After having been blown away by Nishida Sho-Ten, I decided to try all the ramen joints in the Ramen Joe family – Naruto with four locations, Terakawa Ramen and Nishida Sho-Ten.  The Naruto Ramen location on the Upper West Side has a couple of tables and a small ramen bar that seats about eight people.  The wall across from the ramen bar has an odd mural of a Japanese school girl dodging flying slices of fish cake like Keanu Reeves dodging bullets in the Matrix.  Also, in what seems to be a feature of Ramen Joe restaurants, the bathroom has a super high-tech Toto toilet. Continue reading

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