Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dumpling Inn

It certainly goes without saying that Dumpling Inn is a favorite of mine. It's what I think of as Chinese comfort food. Basic stir fries, good dumplings/potstickers, etc. Service is decent, food is always consistent, and the atmosphere is homey. I wouldn't go there at 7pm on a Saturday night nor would I go at 8:30pm at any night. That's when they start to wrap up for the night and boy, do they get grouchy. I don't blame them, as I would be dying to clean up and go home. We did it once, knowing we'd incur their wrath, and we were in and out in half an hour. Two other parties that came in at the same time decided to linger and the owner gave us the most grateful look for understanding that they wanted us out.

Anyhoo, our menu for this past Wednesday night:

  • Potstickers
  • Cashew diced chicken
  • Sweet and sour pork
  • Orange chicken
  • Beef chow mein
Everything was quite delightful. The cashew diced chicken is a favorite and I'd kill for a recipe for that sauce. It's slightly sweet with a hint of tomato paste and perfect with the tiny pieces of chicken, water chestnut, and cashews. The sweet and sour pork consisted of large chunks of pork that were battered, fried, and served with chunks of pineapple in the classic sauce. Orange chicken is one of my favorite dishes. Yeah, it isn't really Chinese, but I especially love Dumpling Inn's version of it. It's made with real orange juice, so the sweetness and tartness of orange is dominant in the dish. The chicken is lightly battered and tossed into red-hot oil for a nice crust. They add a little kick to it, so that's a nice contrast to the orange flavor.

The potstickers need no description. Their perfectly fried up with a good pork filling. Pork with a little bit of onions and chives. The skin's a tad thick, but that doesn't really matter in potstickers. Their beef chow mein is ok, but I'm not a huge fan of it. It's a little too greasy, heavy on the garlic, and not enough noodles. There's a ton of onions and bean sprouts in it. I like onions and bean sprouts, but my chow mein should always have plenty of noodles.

Other dishes on the favorites list include the pork and garlic eggplant. YUM. When they make it extra-spicy, it's gut-roasting. The eggplant is placed directly into hot oil. This fries the skin, sealing in the water. It's the only way to ensure that the eggplant is juicy and moist, not soggy. The sauce is oyster-based and they throw in ground pork, scallions, and strips of bamboo. Crunchy, moist, garlicky, and eggplant-y. That's the way the dish should be done.

I also like their pickled pork and cabbage noodle soup, which is basic and hearty. The classic braised beef noodle soup is ok, but Chang's Garden in LA holds the prize for best beef noodle soup ever. Dumpling Inn uses packaged noodles and doesn't use enough spices in the soup, making it a basic beef broth with noodles and meat. It's good, but not incredible.

I'm sure I'll be discussing Dumpling Inn further. We're there at least once a month, if not more.

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