I had high expectations for Uncle Luoyang, its food truck that sets up outside of Columbia University gets great reviews online and it always has a long line of international students from China waiting for orders. The restaurant has multiple menus; BBQ skewers, counter sushi bar, all-you-can-eat sushi, dim sum, hot pot, Japanese kitchen dishes and Chinese dishes. There are a couple of typos on the menu, for instance the the Pork Dumplings with Chili Oil at $3.95 is actually Scallion Pancakes.
The Dumplings: the menus have a lot of dumplings on offer, I tried the Pork Dumplings with Chili Oil and the Steamed Crab Meat Pork Buns, which are soup dumplings.
Pork Dumplings With Chili Oil – these boiled or steamed pork gyoza style dumplings were served piled in a small steep sided bowl with what appeared to be pure chili oil in the bottom of the bowl. This plating was poorly conceived, the bowl was too small to mix the dumplings and oil together, so the dumplings piled on top didn’t have much contact with the oil and were bland and the dumplings in the bottom of the bowl became saturated with oil. Usually the sauce in this type of dish is a flavorful mix of chili oil, soy sauce and sesame paste. Unfortunately, here the dumplings soaking in the oil at the bottom of the bowl absorbed so much oil eating them was like doing a shot of pure chili oil – basically they were inedible.
Steamed Crab Meat Pork Buns – When the waitress opened the bamboo steamer I immediately saw that the dumpling wrappers were full of holes and looked moth-eaten and all the soap had leaked out. The dumplings had either been sitting for a while and had been re-heated and fallen apart or had been radically over steamed. I sent them back.
The Location: Uncle Luoyang’s is on Amsterdam Avenue between 105th and 106th streets in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood. Their food truck sets up on Broadway between 116th and 117th streets just north of Columbia University’s main entrance.