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.

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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.

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

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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