Bombay Royale, Northampton, MA

Bombay Royale is one of the best Indian restaurants in the Pioneer Valley, although the bar in Western MA is quite low.  Bombay Royale’s menu covers all the dishes you would expect to see in a general, non-regional Indian restaurant, and as a plus has a section for vegetarian dishes and a separate section for vegan dishes.  Their food generally is good, I really like the Masala Dosa, the Mulligatawny Soup, and the home made Lime Soda but sometimes the spices in their main dishes taste harsh and not well knit together.  They tend to fall down on service, it often seems like the waiters are only begrudgingly taking your order, bringing you your food and dropping off the check. Bombay Royale has a good Sunday brunch buffet, but it gets packed and often the kitchen is overwhelmed and leaves big gaps in the buffet, so come early.

Vegetable Samosa

The Dumplings:  There is some argument over whether Samosa’s count as dumplings, some people feel they are too big to be dumplings.  But here at Dumpling Hunter we embrace Samosa, Empanadas, Pasties, and Piroshkies as part of the Dumpling family.

Bombay Royale serves vegetable Samosa’s which are vegan, Lamb Kheema Samosa and Samosa Chaat which are smashed Samosa topped with Chaat Chutneys.  The veggie Samosas come three to an order and were pretty small, sort of mini, slider sized Samosas. But on the plus side this increases the surface area to volume ratio so you get relatively more fried crunchy wrapper.  The potato filling was very mild and I would have preferred it with a deeper curry flavor.  Overall their Veggie Samosas worked for me as an appetizer, I enjoyed the relative abundance of crispy fried wrapper and even though the flavor was really mild, the potato filling whet my appetite for the main dishes.

The Location: Bombay Royale is in downtown Northampton MA at 52 Crafts Ave. in One Roundhouse Plaza, near the Peter Pan bus station.

Posted in Northampton, Samosa, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Dumpling Kingdom, New York, NY

Dumpling Kingdom is a tiny, somewhat dingy, mom and pop run dumpling shop near Washington Square Park, in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.  They have a pretty good selection of house made dumplings and dumplings soups, and a short list of main dishes.  Most of their business is take-out, catering to the local NYU students, and the space has counter seating for about six people.  Dumpling Kingdom gets really crowded for eating at the counters when there is a long line of people waiting on to-go orders, or when a gaggle of students comes in to place orders.  Eat-in orders are served in aluminium to-go boxes and come with a plastic to-go tub of sauce. 

Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings

The Dumplings: Dumpling Kingdom’s menu has pork soup dumplings, crystal vegetable dumplings, shrimp shumai, fried or steamed pork and chive dumplings, fried or steamed pork and cabbage dumplings, seafood dumplings, chicken dumplings, jade dumplings, crab rangoon, chicken wontons, and chicken wontons in spicy sauce.  You can also order pork, chicken, seafood and jade dumplings in soup.  I tried the fried pork and chive dumplings and the jade dumplings.

Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings – they made a mistake in my order and initially served me steamed pork and chive dumplings, which they subsequently then fried/seared on one side, so I am not sure if the dumplings I had are their typical style for fried dumplings.  But the dumplings they finally served me were really good, some of the juiciest pork dumplings I have had in a while.  The meatball filling had a deep, well seasoned pork flavor shot through with a peppery flavor from the chives.

Jade Dumplings

Jade Dumplings – these bright green dough wrapped, vegan dumplings are only served steamed.        They seemed to be filled with a mix of white cabbage, greens and carrots, and maybe a few other veggies thrown in there too that I could not readily identify.  The white cabbage was under cooked compared to the other ingredients and gave these dumplings an unfortunate mouth feel. In addition, the wrappers were really thick and became stodgy and tough as the dumplings cooled. To top it off the wrapper and filling were both lacking in flavor.  But the sauce tasted quite good and, if it wasn’t for the unpleasant texture from the cabbage and the thick wrapper, these dumplings would have been a good sauce delivery vehicle.

Overall, I would go back to Dumpling Kingdom for the fried pork and chive dumplings and to try some of the other dumplings in their line up, but I would not recommend the Jade Dumplings.

The Dipping Sauce:  The dumplings are served with a to-go tub of sauce and the counters had bottles of soy sauce and Huy Fong’s Sriracha sauce.  The sauce that came in the tub, a sweetened mix of soy and rice vinegar, was quite good but the tubs were small, making it hard to dip the dumplings.

The Location:  Dumpling Kingdom is located on Sullivan Street between West 3rd Street and Bleecker Street.  This is the NYU campus neighborhood and so the Sullivan Street and the area in general has a huge student population and is packed with bars, restaurants and food trucks.

Posted in Chinese, New York City, Pan Fried, Pork, Vegan | Leave a comment

Joe’s Shanghai, New York, NY

Given that this is a New York City based dumpling blog, it is sort of amazing that this is the first review of Joe’s Shanghai.  I tried to visit once before but the line was down the block and so I ended up going to their sister restaurant Joe’s Ginger.  Joe’s Shanghai opened in 1995 in Flushing Queens and then expanded to Manhattan’s Chinatown and then Mid-town, and in doing so, probably more than any other establishment, popularized the Xia Long Bao (Soup Dumpling) in New York City.  As part of a night out to see a showing of a restored copy of Game of Death at MOMA, I hit the Mid-town location for dinner.  This location has two floors and a basic, spare design.

Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings

The Dumplings:  Joe’s sells Pork and Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings, King of the Sea Dumplings and Pork or Vegetable dumplings cooked either pan-fried or steamed.

Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings –   As you would expect from Joe’s reputation these soup dumplings were excellent.  They took a little time to arrive at our table, but the wait and the reveal of the huge cloud of steam that billowed out of the steamer when the lid was removed added to our anticipation.  The dough wrappers had a perfect thickness, not thick and chewy like at lesser places but just exactly thick enough to contain the soup and meat ball.   The pork soup was rich and unctuous, with a hint of ginger and crab roe.  As the dumplings cooled in the steamer the soup changed consistency, moving from a light soup in the first dumpling to a thicker fattier soup in the last one.

King of the Sea Dumplings

King of the Sea Dumplings – While Joe’s is known for its soup dumplings do not overlook ordering the amazing King of the Sea Dumplings.  These steamed dumplings are stuffed with shrimp and scallop and  had a scrumptious sweet (shrimp) and salt sea flavor (scallop) flavor.  They were quite a light dumpling compared to the soup dumplings, which after a few baskets can feel heavy.  These dumplings also went well with the black vinegar and ginger sauce that was served with the soup dumplings.

Pan fried vegetable dumplings

Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings –  The chefs at Joe’s knows how to pan-fry a dumpling so that it is perfectly crispy, crunchy and golden.  But despite the excellent frying technique I thought the wrappers were a little thick and doughy on the inside.  These dumplings were filled with finely minced greens and carrots and had a sweet flavor contributed by the carrots.  The filling worked really well with the accompanying soy and minced ginger dipping sauce.

The Dipping Sauce:  The soup dumplings came with the traditional black vinegar sauce with slivers of ginger.  I don’t particularly like this sauce and almost never add it to my soup dumplings but it worked well with the King of the Sea Dumplings.  The vegetable dumplings came with a flavorful soy and ginger dipping sauce that I really liked, definitely one of my favorite dipping sauces out there.

The Location:  We hit the Mid-Town location which is on 56th street between 5th and 6th avenues.  I think this area is a bit of a foodie wasteland, there are a lot of high end expense account restaurants or after work bars slinging bar food. So if you are stuck in Mid-Town for dinner, Joe’s is a good option for reasonably priced, super tasty food. There are also Joe’s Shanghai locations in Flushing Queens and on Pell Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

Posted in Chinese, Crab, New York City, Pan Fried, Pork, Shrimp, Soup Dumpling, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Yissine Frozen Vegetable Korean Dumplings

Yissine Vegetable Korean Dumplings

Yissine Vegetable Korean Dumplings


Pan fried Yissine Vegetable Korean Dumplings

Pan fried Yissine Vegetable Korean Dumplings

Rating:  stars_3

Yissine Frozen Dumplings are one of the Rhee Brother’s 14 lines of Asian frozen food products. The Yissine Vegetable Korean Dumplings are vegan and filled with tofu, onion, green onion, cabbage, radish, sweet potato vermicelli, leek, sesame oil, garlic soy sauce, ginger and black  pepper, and as proudly proclaimed on the front, No MSG.

Since I have tried the Rhee Brother’s Assi brand Vege Potstickers, Vegetable Dumplings and Hot Vegetable Dumplings I can’t help comparing the Yissine dumpling to the Assi ones.  The Yissine Vegetable Korean Dumplings are shaped in a gyoza potsticker style and are closest in shape to the Assi Vege Potstickers; both the Assi Vegetable and Hot Vegetable Dumplings have a more traditional Korean dumpling shape, long and moon shaped.  Like all three of Assi dumpling styles I have tried, the filling of the Yissine Vegetable Korean Dumplings are a faux meat, close in flavor to pork.  However, the texture of the filling in the Yissine Vegetable Korean Dumplings was not as good as the filling of the Assi brand ones, it was less convincingly meaty and was a little crumbly.

I think the three styles of Assi Brand dumplings I have tried are superior to the Yissine Vegetable Korean Dumplings.

Posted in Frozen Dumpling Review, Korea, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Ravioli de JUIN, Paris, France

Vegetable Dumplings

In preparation for a business trip to Paris, I googled like crazy trying to find lists of the best places to eat dumplings but I kept coming up short.  There is a Chinatown in Paris but it is pretty far from where I was staying and far from any of the sites I wanted to see.  But once in Paris I discovered that in French dumplings of all types are referred to as ravioli, often with a country appellation suffix such as Ravioli Japanais, and they are pretty easy to find.

Ravioli de JUIN is a small family run Chinese dumpling house that has a counter that seats maybe 10 people and three or four small tables for another dozen diners.  The dumplings are cooked in an open kitchen behind the counter.  Ravioli de JUIN also sells a spicy Sichuan noodle soup and a tofu salad and a cabbage salad.

The Dumplings:  Ravioli de JUIN sells Raviolis Au Porc, Raviolis Au Boeuf, Raviolis À l’Agneau et oignon (lamb and onion) , Raviolis Au Poulet (chicken) and Raviolis Végétariens.  The dumplings are all cooked first in a tiny amount of oil until the bottom of the dumplings are just fractionally crispy and then water is added to the pan and they are covered and steamed.  Each order includes 10 fairly large dumplings.

I tried the Raviolis Vegetariens which are listed as being filled with Chouux (cabbage), ciboulette (chives) and Vermicelle noodles.  There was also, what I think was, tofu skin mixed into the filling.  The dumplings alone were quite good, with a nutritious cruciferous flavor to them, but were excellent when paired with the dipping sauce.  The chopped cabbage filling provided plenty of surface area for the dipping sauce to cling to, making these dumplings an excellent sauce delivery vehicle.  While the chef clearly has a vision for how much frying is appropriate for his dumplings, I would have preferred them a little more crispy fried on the bottom.   My French is very poor, so my efforts to find out whether the veggie dumplings were vegan were not successful.

The Dipping Sauce:  Each spot at the counter has a white ceramic tub of chili paste, and matching white bottles of vinegar and soy sauce from which you concoct you own personalized dipping sauce.  I found that a sauce that was a little heavier on the vinegar went really well with the vegetable dumplings.

The Location:  Ravioli de JUIN is in the Bastille neighborhood of Paris at 78 rue do Charonne.  If you are staying in the Bastille neighborhood and get tired of baguette, cheese, ham, crepes, cafes and bistros, Ravioli de JUIN is a good neighborhood spot for dumplings.

Posted in Pan Fried, Steamed, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Mimi Cheng’s, New York, NY

February Special at Mimi Cheng’s

I have previously reviewed Mimi Cheng’s but I was walking past this spot recently and their February Special Dumpling caught my eye.  This month’s Dumpling Special was inspired by wastED and was developed in collaboration with Blue Hill.  The dumplings are stuffed with ingredients that typically get composted during the prep process for Mimi Cheng’s other dumplings.  So the filling for the February Special Dumpling is bok choy ends, carrot ribbons, zucchini ends, kale stems, rice cooked in mushroom juice, and green cabbage outer leaves, with peanut miso sauce mixed in.  Half of the net proceeds from the February Special Dumpling will be donated to City Harvest, which feeds almost 1.4 million New Yorkers by rescuing food waste.

These dumplings were really excellent and I hope to squeeze another visit to Mimi Cheng’s in before February ends.  The rice in the filling gave the dumplings a really nice chewy mouth feel and the miso sauce provided a rich nutty, smokey, umami flavor.  However the veggies were still an integral part of the flavor mix, highlighting wastED’s mission to show that discarded, ignored or un-coveted ingredients can make an awesome dish. The dumplings come plated with toasted sesame seeds and slivered scallions.

The wastED inspired dumplings are only available in February so run down to Mimi Cheng’s and get them while they last.

Posted in New York City, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Hot Kitchen, New York, NY

HOT KITCHENHot Kitchen, is a minimalist canteen in whitewashed brick and red beams, that serves Sichuan and some Northwestern Chinese dishes.  The menu has an extensive array of traditional sounding dishes and a small American Chinese Food section; the NYTimes review from 2012 says there are 160-ish items on the menu.  

The service at Hot Kitchen was pretty weak the night I went.  I ordered some pan fried pork dumplings that never showed up, but the waiter kept stopping by the table and mentioning that he knew I ordered the dumplings.  It also took forever to get the check when we were ready to leave.

Pork Dumplings with Red Oil

Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil

The Dumplings:   Hot Kitchen serves; Pork Soup Dumplings Crabmeat and Pork Soup Dumplings,  Sichuan Steamed Pork Buns, Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil, Sichuan Wontons with Red Oil, Crystal Shrimp Dumplings, Steamed Pork Dumplings, Steamed Vegetable Dumplings, Pan Fried Pork Dumplings, and Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings.  The menu also lists Fried Little Buns, which sound like they might be Shanghai style buns but are actually small deep fried bread/sweet buns, served with a creamy sweet dipping sauce.

Pork Soup Dumplings

Pork Soup Dumplings

We ordered the Pork Soup Dumplings and the Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil and the aforementioned no-show Pork Dumplings.

The Pork Soup Dumplings were decent and prepared well; none of the dumplings arrived with their wrappers broken or leaking.  Each of the dumplings contained about a spoonful of somewhat thin pork soup, however the meat filling was tasty and had a great mouth feel.  The main deficit with these soup dumplings was that the wrappers were too thick and were stodgy.

The Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil are boiled, pork filled dumplings served in red chili oil sprinkled with scallions and sesame seeds.  The dumplings themselves were not spicy, just filled with a mild, finely minced pork.  But the red chili oil sauce was sensational, it was lip and tongue tingling spicy but also sweet and smoky.  These dumplings are worth a return visit, perhaps paired with the Sichuan Wontons with Red Oil.

The Location:  Hot Kitchen is in New York City’s East Village neighborhood on 2nd Ave and 6th street.  This area is replete with Polish and Ukrainian restaurants selling pierogies, Japanese Izakaya and hipster Chinese dumpling spots.

Posted in Chinese, New York City, Pork, Sichuan Dumplings, Soup Dumpling | Leave a comment

Golden Brand Frozen Potato and Onion Pierogies

 

Golden Pierogies

Golden Pierogies

Potato and Onion Pierogies

Potato and Onion Pierogies

Rating:  star_3_5

Golden Brand Frozen Pierogies are made by Old Fashioned Kitchen, Inc. which began in 1951 as a storefront business in Brooklyn making fresh blintzes for local bakeries and distributors.  These first blintzes were made on an eight-burner stove salvaged intact from the kitchens of a local hotel that was being demolished.  Today they make Blintzes, Potato Pancakes, Pierogies, and Dessert Crepes. All of their products are made under the supervision of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregation of America.  Their pierogi line-up includes; spinach and potato, potato and onion, potato and cheddar, and spinach, broccoli and cheddar.

I tried their potato and onion pierogies which were pretty good, but I thought the dough wrapper a little too thick and chewier than I like.  The potato filling was a light brown color, like mash-potatoes made with their skin, and had a sweet onion taste.  They are better if you pan-fry them after boiling them, rather than eating them just boiled.  The potato and onion pierogies are vegan.

Posted in Boiled, Frozen Dumpling Review, Pierogi | Leave a comment

Dumplings Around the World on the Insider.com

Insider.com has a nice list of dumplings around the world, light on text but has some nice pix.  See Here

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Guest Review – Beer Loves Gyoza, Tokyo, Japan

My friend just returned from an awesome looking trip to Japan and sent me this guest review of Beer Loves Gyoza.

Guest Review:  On a recent trip to Japan with my husband, I was traveling with my brother who is allergic to peanuts and fish. He’s had food allergies since birth, so he’s naturally been very cautious about trying new food. One of the safe things he can eat is gyoza, so we ended up at BLG (Beer Loves Gyoza) for dinner one night. They have a variety of different gyoza preparations, and many different beers to have them with.

We ended up ordering the oropon gyoza (ponzu and daikon on top), tomato and cheese deep fried gyoza (cream cheese, not mozzarella, which is what I was expecting), cilantro boiled gyoza, and the mentaiko mayonnaise gyoza (which my brother couldn’t have, on account of the mentaiko). We also ordered chahan (fried rice) which is excellent here!

Clockwise from top left: Cheese Deep Fried Gyoza, xxxx, Coriander Boiled Gyoza, Mentak, Tomato and

Clockwise from top left: Tomato and Cheese Deep Fried Gyoza, Oropon Gyoza, Cilantro Boiled Gyoza, and Mentaiko Mayonnaise Gyoza

I love the crust on the oropon and mentaiko gyoza — this makes every bite very crunchy (DH comment – these gyoza a cooked embedded in a thin layer of fried batter). If you’ve never had gyoza prepared this way, I highly recommend going to Ganso Ramen in Brooklyn and ordering it there.

I would pass on the tomato and cheese deep fried gyoza. The olive oil dipping sauce, while novel, wasn’t very good olive oil. Stick to the more traditional gyoza preparations. The chahan is essential to break up the gyoza, and we couldn’t stop eating it. We had two orders.

And make sure you order beer!

Beer Loves Gyoza (also called BLG) is easily accessible from Shinjuku station.

西新宿1-15-13
西新宿島田ビルB1
Shinjuku, 東京都 〒160-0023
Japan

Which in English is 1-15-13 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Posted in Gyoza, Japanese | Leave a comment