With just my son and I at home this coming week, and he ill with a bad cold, it has been pretty quiet. But, it has been a great opportunity to do some minor repairs around the house.
So, my Friday night was a long session of painting and caulking. I was so focused on the projects, and, then, so tired by the end, that I skipped dinner.
To be clear, I am not a handy person. But, with all the online videos these days, you can tackle most household projects. I inspected the work this morning and felt pretty good with how everything looked!
After a long work out, I was pretty hungry and decided to continue my Food Tour. Next stop: the Dumpling House. Most of my family members don’t like Sichuan food, and so, this was a great time for me to visit.
Now, this is one of those places with minimal decor, mixed service and some servers with limited English skills. In other words, this is my kind of Chinese restaurant because the draw here is the food, not the environment.
You used to have to drive to Chinatown to find these places. Fortunately, there now are some decent options outside of the city.
When you step into the Dumpling House, you immediately notice the smell of cabbage. It is a key ingredient for one of their dumplings, and they must sell loads of them. Fortunately, you get used to the odor pretty quick. But, again, you come here for the food.
The other thing you notice is that the other diners are members of my Tribe. That is always a good sign. Yes, the restaurant has the usual crowd-pleasing dishes that you actually cannot find in China, items like crab Rangoon, orange chicken and beef teriyaki on a stick. But, hey now, you can get that stuff everywhere these days, even at the Whole Foods hot food area.
You want, and I want you to want, the real stuff. Hence, the clientele.
I decide to celebrate my passable handyman work and order a cold one. It is Saturday, after all.
The menu here is good-sized and offers many temptations. But, I don’t need to see it. I had looked at it while at the gym and was quick to order guo tie, also known colloquially as “potstickers.” I also order one of my favorites: julienned pork with dried bean curd and yellow chives.
The dumplings are made to order, as they should be, and take some time, which means that the pork dish comes out first. Food here comes out blazingly fast, and I mean, fast. The first dish arrived within minutes of placing my order.
There is zero leisurely Western-style sequencing, such as the “Hi, my name is Bill, and I’ll be your server” to taking your drink order to taking your food order to the small talk in between. This is a place for near-instant gratification.
The pork dish is sublime and slightly spicy, and offers a salty kick from some fermented bean sauce. It is, without exaggeration, a simple and simply-delicious dish. As I eat it, I feel that I am home.
The dumplings come out 10 minutes later, fresh and sizzling hot. Upon biting into one, some juices spurt out and burn my tongue. Sometimes, casualties happen in the name of a greater cause. To me, it is a small price to pay to eat the fatty and unctuous little packages of pork, dough, ginger, scallions and who-knows-what-else. That flavor combination just works, which is why it has been around for about 1,800 years (source).
That the food comes out fast is a good thing. It is all about wok hei at authentic Chinese restaurants. Some foodies even sit close to the kitchen so that the “breath of the wok” is maximized.
I finish just half of the food. I mean, I can eat a lot, but, I forced myself to stop. It took supernatural discipline, and I frankly surprised myself.
But, there is more housework to do. And, good news! My son is hungry and wants me to pick up a burrito for him en route to home. So, I’m finishing this blog post and about to dash. Feeding a sick child is a good reason to cut short a meal.
Thank you, Dumpling House. It is nice to come back home every now and again.