695 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111
To make up for last week’s DEARTH of dumplings we remedied the situation by visiting the Dumpling Café this week. First we ordered the pork soup dumplings. The Dumpling Café has, to my recollection, the BEST soup dumplings in Chinatown. They are rich and savory and delectable. The dumpling skin is so tender that you have to be careful when peeling them off the bottom of the steamer, as you do not want the delicate dumpling skin to break.
Eating a soup dumpling (or a “Juicy bun” as they are called sometimes) can be tricky, especially if you have never done it before. The idea is, you pluck the dumpling from the bamboo steamer with your chopsticks or tongs (if they provide them) and place the dumpling in your large Chinese soup spoon. Then you half submerge your spoon with dumpling on it in the dumpling sauce which is vinegar based with shredded turnip in it and probably looks like this:
Then, you take a tiny bite out of the corner of the dumpling so the very hot steam can escape and the rich “soup” inside the dumpling can pour out inside the spoon for you to sip as it cools off. Once most of the liquid has escaped the dumpling you can add more of the vinegary dumpling sauce and eat the rest of the dumpling once it has cooled off enough. Memory was not wrong. The broth was a warm happy flavor. It made you think of sitting in your favorite PJ’s and sipping on soup while binge watching that old favorite TV show….maybe that was just me. The broth was not a thin weak thing. It stood up to the vinegar flavor that was supposed to enhance it (hint, it did), unlike some places where the broth flavor can be lost. The flavor of the meat of the dumpling wasn’t lost either. It was there, not in over-powering abundance but just enough to let you know that it was still a contribution.
To continue in the dumpling theme, we also ordered the Steamed Pork and Leek Dumplings. These were rather mediocre, unfortunately, and I was very disappointed. Quite often the Divas will fight over who gets the last dumpling but we ended up leaving two of these as they weren’t much better than the dumplings you can pick up at Trader Joe’s. I would recommend taking a pass on this particular menu item.
In most authentic Chinese restaurants I simply adore spinach. As per my usual preference, here we had the Spinach with Garlic which was incredibly flavorful although a little overcooked. I always think that it is important to order a bright green vegetable dish, especially if the major portion of your meal consists of dumplings!
Next we tried the Salt and Pepper Fried Calimari. We had such a great experience with the squid at Café de Lulu that we decided to try it at the Dumpling Café as well. And it was good, but not GREAT. Certainly not as good as the Salt and Pepper Squid at Cafe de Lulu. But it was crispy and tasty, the main complaint was that there was only one set of tentacles in the batch, which was disappointing as we love tentacles! The other Diva was mostly impressed with the presentation and cut of the jalepenos that are usually served with squid. They were cut long and at a bias. They were cooked perfectly, with not too much spice.
The main reason to come to the Dumpling Café is for the Soup Dumplings or “Juicy Buns” but be sure to get the Spinach with Garlic while you are here.