The Chinese name for Dumpling Galaxy is ‘100 Kinds of Dumpling Garden’, I didn’t take the time to count up all the menu options but I think I could easily spend the rest of 2017’s blog posts solely reporting on Dumpling Galaxy’s menu. The owner, Helen You, was taught to cook by her mother and grandparents in Tianjin China and first brought her skills to the Tianjin Dumpling House, a stall jammed into the middle of the Golden Shopping Mall. Like her neighbor, Xi’an Famous Foods, she expanded out from the Golden Mall to open the full service Dumpling Galaxy. Helen You also recently published the Dumpling Galaxy cookbook.
The Dumplings: The dumplings at Dumpling Galaxy are handmade and stuffed to order, which I have never seen before. As a result it takes a little while for the plates to come out of the kitchen, but it is worth the wait. The menu heavily features Northern style boiled dumplings, but also includes Shanghai style soup dumplings, southern Chinese steamed seafood dumplings and desert dumplings.
Of the three plates of dumplings we tried it is hard to pick a favorite. The boiled Duck and Mushroom dumplings were juicy with a meaty mouth feel and a flavor that, both I and my lunch companion agreed, could best be described as ‘earthy’. I know that ‘earthy’ doesn’t sound good, so don’t get us wrong, we loved these dumplings, but ‘earthy’ was the word that came to mind to describe the flavor. I think it was a combination of the mild gaminess of the duck meat mixed with the umami of the mushroom that builds this flavor profile.
Next up was the boiled Lamb and Pickled Vegetables dumplings, which were also great. Lamb also has a slightly gamey savory flavor that is more complex than that of beef or pork and in these dumplings the lamb was highlighted by the sharp, bright, pungent flavor of brine-pickled vegetables. The pickles were crunchy and appeared to be root vegetable of some sort, maybe turnips or daikon. While I still have 97 dumpling options to select from at Dumpling Galaxy, I am going to have to get these again when I return there.
Dumpling Galaxy makes my favorite preparation of pan-fried pork dumplings. The dumplings are cooked so they are embedded into a pancake of fried batter. They are made by pouring a thin slurry of water and cornstarch into the fry pan as the dumpling cook. As the water in the slurry evaporates, the cornstarch and flour in the dumpling dough forms a paper-thin layer of crispy fried starch across the pan that holds the dumplings in a single sheet.
The Dipping Sauce: Each of the dumpling plates came with a standard dipping sauce of soy and vinegar, clearly the focus here is on the dumpling varieties and they aren’t doing much to elevate the sauce.
The Location: Dumpling Galaxy is in Flushing Queens, which has become a major center for Chinese immigrants in New York City. The Flushing Chinatown abuts a thriving Koreatown neighborhood and so there are a lot of great Asian restaurants and grocery stores in this area of Queens. For anyone serious about Asian food, you have to make the pilgrimage to Flushing Main Street. Dumpling Galaxy is located in a shopping center at 42-35 Main Street in Flushing.