If you have eaten fake meat in an Asian restaurant on the Eastern seaboard the chances are it was provided by May Way, the go-to place for fake meat products and vegan dry foods since 1994. Their line of products include Veggie Prawns, Sweet and Sour Citrus Spare Ribs, Crispy Chicken Nuggets, Shumai, Dumplings, Delicious Chicken Legs, Spicy Gong Bao Chicken, Smoked Chicken, Corn Burgers and Vegetable Burgers. May Wah imports its branded products from Taiwan, where they are made by Taoist and Buddhist manufacturers. The inside of the store in New York’s Chinatown looks like a 7-Eleven, the store is brightly neon lit and the walls are lined with glass doored freezers like the coolers in a convenience store, but instead of being packed with ice-cream and soda they are packed with bags of frozen vegan and vegetarian food. The staff at the store are really friendly and provide cooking tips and menu ideas and lots of free samples of their food, the lemon chicken and the BBQ Pork were really good, the grilled salmon was a little too fishy.
Packed with vegetables
The frozen vegetable fist sized buns come four to a pack and can be heated up in a micro-wave or steamed. These were some of the best steamed buns I have tried. The filling is a mix of cabbage, carrots, glass noodles and either finely minced bok choy or broccoli – I couldn’t quite tell. I went the steamer route to re-heat the buns which worked great and took about 15 minutes. The bread of the bun came out really light and fluffy and slightly sticky. The filling had a mild cabbage cruficerous flavor, but was also quite savory which balanced the sweetness of the bun bread.
Wild Ginger, also known as LuAnne’s Wild Ginger, bills itself as providing pan-Asian vegan specialties based on traditional Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, and South Asian cuisines. They claim to make over two-dozen homemade sauces and to use local produce. I have eaten here a couple of times; the salt and pepper fried king-oyster mushrooms are excellent, a great substitute for salt and pepper fried squid, and I really liked their Singapore Chow Mei Fun. The restaurant interior is reminiscent of a Tikki Hut with low lighting and lots of dark hard wood. Continue reading
Steamed Kimchi Pork Dumplings
DumplingGo is a new fast-casual chain starting up in NYC with a focus on health conscious food and packing Asian and Western flavor profiles into dumpling wrappers. They have taken the Chipotle approach to ordering with instructions hanging above the counter that read – 1) select fried or steamed, 2) choose a filling from the list below, and 3) choose a dipping sauce. Generally I think of the new fast-casual places as providing a slightly better ambiance than a traditional fast food joint and the interior space, tables and seating was nice, but the food came plonked down on styrofoam plates and the dipping sauce comes in a little plastic to-go tub.
The Dumplings: DumplingGo offers a big selection of dumplings and mixes it up with the flavor profiles. They offer: Thai Basil Chicken, Mexican Chili Beans Beef, Korean Kimchi Pork, Black Pepper Seafood, Shrimp with Celery and Carrots, Five-Flavor Eggplant, String Beans & Pork, Vegetable Mushroom and Red Bean. On the day I went they also had a couple of dumpling specials of the day. The vegetable filled dumplings are vegan. Continue reading
Fried Pork Dumplings
Cana Korean Restaurant is a great find in Western MA; two other local Korean restaurants recently closed and the other one I know of in the Pioneer Valley is terrible. So this is my new go-to place for Korean food, they serve a good selection of banchan and the pork Soon Du Bu I had was excellent. Cana has an extensive Korean menu, that includes Korean table BBQ, traditional Korean dishes, Korean-Chinese dishes, a large vegetarian section and a gluten free section. Cana has two dining rooms with all of the BBQ tables housed in one of the dining rooms. This is a nice feature, vegetarians and vegans can eat in the other room and not get coated in BBQ meat smoke.
Pan-fried mini-pork dumplings
Mom’s Dumpling and Noodle is a little bit of a misnomer, it only sells two varieties of dumplings and three varieties of noodles. The menu lists more rice plates that it does dumplings, and also includes kimchi, braised pork feet and braised eggs – the last of which I highly recommend. Mom’s Dumpling and Noodle, which opened in late 2014, is an offshoot of the well regarded Mom’s House Chinese Market that has been selling to-go Chinese meals and groceries for the past 15 years on Route 9.
The Dumplings: Mom’s serves pork and vegetable dumplings that are prepared either steamed or pan-fried. The pork dumplings are mini-sized, like slider dumplings, and come twelve to an order for $4.99. The pork filling was a mix of pork and scallions and the pan-fried preparation was juicy and tasty. Mom’s doesn’t provide a lot of dumpling choices but it is well worth stopping in to try the mini-pork dumplings. Continue reading
Chinese food carts
Just off Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus you can find a string of food carts selling Chinese food. These are not hip new food trucks, but old school NYC coffee and falafel carts refurbished to sell Chinese food. They appear to cater to Columbia’s Chinese student community; there is no General Tso’s Chicken style American-Chinese food for sale here and the owners of the carts I sampled did not speak English, and I had to have one of the other customers translate for me. Each cart has a menu of about ten options, including a couple of dumpling choices. Continue reading
As part of its ongoing Dumpling Month celebration Lucky Peach just published a Guide to Chinese Dumplings that provides a description and illustration of 36 different types of Chinese dumplings. I am hungry now.
By focusing on texture and mouth feel Beyond Meat has revolutionized the meat alternative market. I experimented with using their Beyond Beef Crumble product as the base for vegan beef dumplings. Both steamed and pan-fried version of this dumpling recipe came out well and were tasty. However, the Beefy variety of Beef Crumble that I used has a sort of south western spice flavor profile, so I didn’t get the Asian dumplings flavor experience I was hoping for.
- One package Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble
- Half an onion, chopped
- A piece of ginger root, about an inch and a half long
- 2 table spoons soy sauce
- 1 table spoon sesame oil
- 5 scallions finely chopped
Grate all of the ginger into a bowl, being sure to include the juice and pulp. Mix thoroughly the other ingredients into the bowl with the ginger. Place a ball of the filling mixture into the center of a dumpling wrapper and fold the wrapper over the filling and crimp the wrapper closed. Repeat this process until you run out of the filling mixture; the recipe makes about 2 dozen dumplings depending on how full you stuff your wrapper.
Steam the dumplings in a bamboo steamer or fry them up in a pan.
I just tried Beyond Meat’s Beastly Sliders, which without a doubt are the best veggie burger I have ever tried, and outside of the veggie vs beef burger dichotomy, just plain make a great sandwich. I think if the sliders or burgers were chopped up and used in the above recipe instead of the Crumble, you would get an even better vegan beef dumpling.
Free yogurt flavor drink desert
Mukeunji//Son Ja Jang/Conveyor belt sushi bar is a odd New York City multi-restaurant venue. In addition to being a traditional Korean restaurant, Mukeunji also houses Son Ja Jang, a Chinese hand-pulled noodle restaurant, and in the back, houses a conveyor belt sushi bar. Son Ja Jang is literally a hole in one of the walls of the Mukeunji dining room through which you can see a guy hand-pulling noodles. Based on the menu Son Ja Jang appears to serve Korean-Chinese food, akin to American-Chinese food, this is Chinese food adapted for Korean tastes. They serve one of my least favorite dishes, Ja Jang Myeon, a noodle dish topped with a thick salted black bean sauce. Lastly, as in all instances of this idea, the conveyor belt sushi bar seemed really sketchy, like a great place to buy not so fresh, room temperature raw fish.
Mukeunji starts out the meal with a half dozen appetizer plates, including an excellent cabbage kimchi. They seem to pride themselves on their kimchi, they have a large museum style set of photos and text on the wall describing the sourcing of their kimchi. At the end of the meal they give you a little plastic shot sized bottle of yogurt drink. Yum, and I mean that for real. Continue reading
456 Shanghai Cuisine is run by the grandson of the owner of the well regarded original 456 that was located in China Town’s Chatham Square in the 1970s. Forty years later the reborn 456 is an unassuming, plate glass fronted restaurant on Mott Street just below Canal Street. Soon after it opened in 2011 the NY Times put it on the culinary map with a good overall review and a glowing recommendation for its soup dumplings. While the main menu, at least the parts of it written in English, offers mainly American-Chinese dishes, the appetizer menu includes many traditional dumplings offerings. Continue reading