Rockmeisha, New York <NY

Photo Nov 11, 7 36 36 PMRockmeisha is a small izakaya that features Mentai – marinated pollock and cod roe – across several of the dishes.  The Mentai Potato Salad was creamy pink color from the Mentai, which gave it a salty, umami flavor that was balanced by the mild sweetness from the Japanese Mayonnaise. This dish was amazing, but it sells out quickly, we tried to get a second order around 7:30 at night and they were already out of it for the night.  Another stand out was the Miso Brussel Sprouts, which were served split into halves and topped with miso-sesame sauce.  The sprouts were perfectly fried so the outer leaves were crispy and the inner heart was soft.  One thing we learned quickly was that the waitresses are all business, be ready to order when they stop by, if you dither on your ordering they get annoyed and walk off. Continue reading

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Nishida Sho-Ten, New York, NY

Pork gyoza embedded in a crispy creppe

Pork gyoza embedded in a crispy creppe

I recently had a work gig on the far east-side of Mid-Town, a neighborhood I thankfully rarely have to go to, and on the way I was lucky enough to stumble upon Nishida Sho-Ten. The food there was so good, I went back for second dinner after my gig was over.  Nishida Sho-Ten has a retro-look, designed to look like a Japanese ramen joint from the early post-war period, although the bathroom has one of those super hi-tech Japanese toilets that comes with its own operating system and control panel.  All of the available ramen broths are made with chicken stock, which I don’t eat, but the rice ball stuffed with roast pork was sublimely delicious.  The individual serving size Okonomiyaki came served in a sizzling hot, cast-iron pan and was amazing.  Nishida Sho-Ten is part of the Ramen Joe mini-chain of ramen joints, which I am going to have to thoroughly explore. Continue reading

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Back to Canteen 82, New York, NY

Canteen 82’s location works pretty well for several aspects of my daily life so I end up going there somewhat frequently.  In my first full review of Canteen 82 I neg’d their soup dumplings pretty hard, but recently I thought I would give them another shot and tried them again.  Turns out I didn’t hate them enough on my last review.

When I opened the steamer of pork soup dumplings I saw that the wrappers of all of the dumplings had holes or rips and all the soup had drained out of the dumplings.  The soup had actually pooled on the plate that was under the steamer, so at least I got to taste some of it.  The crab and pork soup dumplings were even worse. They were so over steamed that the dumplings fell apart when I tried to pick them up.  The top halves of the wrappers tore right off the dumplings, leaving behind a mushy, collapsed meat ball in the ruins of the lower half of the wrapper.   I noticed that the time between ordering and dumpling delivery was very short, I am starting to suspect that they might be microwaving the dumplings to heat them up.

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Return to Vegetarian Dim Sum House, New York, NY

As I wrote in a recent post, I had stopped going to Veggie Dim Sum a couple of years ago when I felt the quality had declined, but Veggie Dim Sum has bounced back and now I need to make up for lost time.  Veggie Dim Sum has a lot of dumpling options and this time I tried the steamed shrimp dumplings and roast pork buns.  And I know this is Dumpling Hunter, but I have to mention the “Treasure Balls with Assorted Flavor”; the best potato croquettes ever, astoundingly good, three ping pong ball sized spheres of croquette goodness for $3.00.

Steamed "Shrimp" Dumplings

Steamed “Shrimp” Dumplings

Roast "Pork" Buns

Roast “Pork” Buns

The Dumplings:  the steamed shrimp dumplings are crystal wrapper style mock shrimp dumplings.  Rather than being a whole shrimp tail or big chunks of shrimp as enjoyed in real crystal shrimp dumplings, the filling in these was more like minced or shredded shrimp and had a texture that was closer to fake crab legs.  They had a shrimp-esque flavor and texture but I found them bland and in need of dipping sauce.

The roast pork buns were a really great vegan interpretation of real roast pork buns.  The bun was really light and fluffy and the mock pork filling captured the texture and flavor of real roast pork bun filling.  The conversation with my dining companions was not about whether or not the filling had the pork-i-ness of a real pork bun but whether or not the barbecue sauce was too sweet or had too much Hoisin sauce. When the conversation is about the authenticity of the BBQ sauce rather than the authenticity of the mock meat, I think you have some successful fake meat. Don’t order these when you are really hungry, they take a while to cook.

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Candles Cafe West, New York, NY

Seitan Dumplings

Saitan Dumplings

Like a mini-eggroll

Like a mini-eggroll

This will be a short review, Candles Cafe is not a dumpling house but I was there recently and saw they had a dumpling appetizer.  Candles Cafe is part of a local mini-chain of vegan restaurants that began back in 1984 with a combo health food store-juice bar and over ten years evolved into a vegan restaurant.  Candles serves vegan-ized American Bistro style food, basically meat and two veg style dishes with the meat replaced with tofu or seitan.

The Dumplings:  The dumplings are filled with a mix of seitan, onion and leeks and are served in sauce with sesame seeds and wilted baby bok choy.  The dumplings were wrapped with a thick wonton style wrapper and the deep fried preparation reminded me of mini-egg rolls.  Their taste and texture was vaguely meaty, but I disliked how the plating of the dumplings in the sauce made them quickly turn soggy and mushy.  The best part of the dish was the wilted bok choy.

The Sauce:  The sauce was relatively thin but was heavily ginger flavored and, since the dumplings quickly became saturated with the sauce, after the first dumpling the rest just tasted like ginger.

The Location:  I hit the location on the Upper-West Side of Manhattan, on Broadway between 89th and 90th, there are two more locations on the Upper-East Side.

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Wang Foods Leek Dumpling/Legume Ravioli

Kang Foods Leek Dumpling

Wang Foods Leek Dumpling

Rating:   stars_3

Wang Food is sub-brand of the large Korean traditional foods exporter, Samjin Globalnet. The company has been promoting Korean food internationally since 1970 and sells a wide range of dumplings under the Wang Foods and  brands.  A lot of the dumpling choices appear to be vegan, but if their shark fin dumplings are the real thing, then a boycott is probably in order.

Pan fried Wang Food's Leek Dumplings

Pan fried Wang Food’s Leek Dumplings

Based on the ingredient list I was expecting that Wang Foods’ Leek Dumpling/Legume Ravioli would be a veggie packed, vegetable dumpling but instead they turned out to be a fake pork with leek gyoza style dumpling. The fake pork was quite convincingly meaty and savory but I was disappointed that I couldn’t really taste the leaks, plus I had been looking forward to leak packed vegetable dumplings not a pork and leek gyoza.

If you are looking for a vegan pork and leak gyoza these work quite well, they pan fry up really crispy and come 50 to a bag.  One of the reasons for the three star rating is that these dumplings were really salty, I cooked them up for lunch and I was gasping for water all afternoon long.

My Cat likes vegan dumplings

My Cat likes vegan dumplings

Posted in Frozen Dumpling Review, Gyoza, Potsticker, Vegan, Vegetarian | 4 Comments

The Handpulled Noodle, New York, NY

Handpulled Noodles and Tattoos

Handpulled Noodles and Tattoos

The Handpulled Noodle opened in Harlem in February of 2015 and quickly got good notices in the NY Times and the Gothamist.  This spot specializes in dishes from North West China, as filtered through the owner’s recollections of his mother’s cooking when he was growing up.  The Handpulled Noodle is small with counter seating for about 15 people, and has a raw design feel with a concrete floor, walls covered in pages from the The People’s Daily and the catch-phrase “We Pull Your Noodles” painted graffiti style over an exposed brick wall.  Even if you are eating at the counter they serve all the food in closed to-go containers, which makes it a little hard to eat the food and also subjects the food to needless steaming.  They would do better just using paper plates for service.  The dumplings were really good, but because of the stylist similarities I found it hard not to compare The Handpulled Noodle to Xi’an Famous (and here) on the Upper West Side: I think Xi’an comes out ahead in the comparison.

The Dumplings:  at The Handpulled Noodle the dumplings are home made and pan fried pot-sticker style.  There is the choice of Pork & Chive, Beef & Daikon, Lamb & Carrot and Egg & Chive. On Fridays they serve Chicken and Shitaki Baozi and on Saturdays they serve Beer Belly Baozi.  For this outing I tried the Pork and the Lamb dumplings.

Continue reading

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Dumplings & Things, Brooklyn, NY

The menu board at Dumplings & Things

I have been eating a lot of vegetarian dumplings lately and felt like re-embracing the pork.  The guys from East Wind Snack Shop have been messaging me through Instagram to come check out their place and based on their Instagram feed they look like they serve some good pork belly.  So last weekend I made the trek to Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn to try their dumplings and buns only to discover they were on vacation for a week – “Gone Fishing” was the official sign on the door.  A quick Google search later and I was on my way to Dumplings & Things in Park Slope.

Dumplings & Things is a tiny, high ceiling-ed, raw brick walled place that has room to sit six at a communal table and three at a counter, and maybe host two more standing at another small counter.  The menu is posted on a tall chalk board; check carefully because the best dumpling option, the Wontons in Hot Oil, is tucked away in the “Sides” section of the menu.  In fact, a couple who seemed like regulars spotted my plate of wontons and asked me where the hell were they hidden on the menu. Continue reading

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Vegetarian Dim Sum House, NY, NY

Photo Aug 22, 12 23 47 PM

Vegetarian Dim Sum House on Pell Street

Vegetarian Dim Sum House (aka Veggie Dim Sum) is a no frills joint that looks a little sketchy from the outside but has a great reputation for vegan dim sum.  I had been going there for several years, but about a year before I started this blog I felt like Veggie Dim Sum had fallen of its game some and I haven’t been back for a while.  After my recent outing there, I am very happy to report that they are back at full strength.  Veggie Dim Sum doesn’t serve the food from carts pushed around the restaurant like in larger dim sum places, rather you order from a waitress by checking boxes on a menu card listing the dim sum items. They also have a full menu of Chinese dishes that use really convincing meat substitutes – the “pork’ products are the best realized of the fake meats.  From among the non-dumpling choices I highly recommend the Fried Rice with Ginger and Ham and the Congee with Corn. Continue reading

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Return to Franchia, NY, NY

I have given the Asian-fusion, vegan cafe, Franchia, a full review previously, but the Spicy Steamed Wontons that they recently added to their menu caught my eye and I had to stop by and try them.  I am a big fan of wontons in in spicy sesame oil, a dish that is often on the menu at Szechuan style restaurants.  Franchia’s menu describes their new dish as “Thin wonton skin stuffed with veggie ‘chicken’, tofu and vegetables topped with spicy sauce”, so I went into dinner hoping these would be a vegan version of wontons in spicy sesame oil.

Photo Aug 21, 7 35 37 PM

Spicy Steamed Wontons

As you can see in the photo these weren’t quite the classic wontons served in a bowl of spicy sesame oil.  Instead the wontons were sauced with a spiced soy sauce with flecks of scallion greens and carrots and flakes of crispy fried onions.  Overall the dish was good, but the wonton wrappers were a little thick and chewy and the stuffing did not have a particularly marked chicken flavor.  The sauce was pretty tasty, but the best part of the dish was the crispy fried onion flakes.

As a side note, we also ordered the Tofu and Vegetables Claypot in Spicy Ginger Sauce, which didn’t actually come cooked in a claypot, but was served in a Bibimbap stone bowl, and also didn’t come with any tofu.  After we inquired with the waiter about the tofu, he brought us some raw tofu to add to the bowl – so nowhere really close at all, to a simmered claypot meal.

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