It is hard to know even where to start with this place. Maybe it is the fact it is called Plump Dumpling and Pho Seng and Mamak; the owner appears to be operating three restaurants out of one space and in a prior permutation it sold sushi too. Maybe it is the grudge match between Dumpling Man on St. Marks, the spot that pioneered East Village dumplings, and the Plump Dumping persona because the original Plump Dumpling logo looked too much like the Dumpling Man logo. Then there is the owner. When my group indicated we wanted to get some dumplings and started asking about the menu, like what are Peanut Dumplings?, the owner cut us off and declared that he would bring us dumplings and we would eat them. Within three minutes of him storming off to the kitchen multiple plates of steamed dumplings were deposited in front of us. Unfortunately, I have a food allergy to chicken and no one could tell us which plate was the pork verses chicken dumplings. Both have the same wrapper and the fillings are both seasoned with Hoison sauce and looked so identical, so I didn’t try either. This spot needs a refresher course on food allergies.
The Dumplings: the first round of dumplings appeared super fast and had clearly been sitting around for a while; no way was that enough time to steam dumplings and they were loop warm and a little tired looking. The first round included Peanut Dumplings which turned out to be chicken dumplings covered in peanut sauce, Vegetable Dumplings, Pork Dumplings and Chicken Dumplings (although the Pork and Chicken dumplings were indistinguishable by sight). We alerted the owner to the weak state of the initial round and in due course he presented us with more Peanut Dumplings and more Shrimp dumplings. This round was fresh and the Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow style) were really good – big chunks of sweet, fresh tasting shrimp. My dining companion reports that the fresh Peanut Dumplings were also really good. Bottom line though do not expect the owner to hook you up.
The Dipping Sauce: each table had a bottle of Sriracha, a tub of sambal style chili oil, a brown bottle filled with Hoison sauce and a yellow bottle of soy based dipping sauce. For me it was all about the yellow bottle; the sauce is slightly thick and is sweet and spicy – really good. I basically ate the first round Veggie dumplings because they were an excellent yellow bottle sauce delivery system.
The Location: Plump Dumpling/Pho Seng/Mamak is on second avenue at the corner of 11th Street in New York’s East Village neighborhood.