Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gourmet Dumpling House - an Evening in Chinatown

I feel like I know Boston pretty well and can give good recommendations for just about anything.  However, a place I admittedly lack knowledge of is Chinatown.  I am always on the lookout for recommendations from others on the "it" places to go because I wouldn't know the first place to go in that part of town.  When our friends G and J kept talking about the Gourmet Dumpling House, I could not wait to tag along with them so they could help us navigate the menu.

As Nick and I walked down Beach Street it would have been tough to miss the restaurant as their were plenty of people waiting on the sidewalk for a table.  Thank goodness it was warm because there is no place to wait inside - it's packed with tables of smiling people enjoying their meals.  After only about 20 minutes we were ushered to our table in the back, next to the fish tanks - yes, it's that fresh!  Shortly after sitting, our server poured us some green tea and Nick and I were given a tutorial of the menu by G and J.

Some Green Tea...
After much discussion we made some decisions.  The first thing was suggested by J, who obviously is pretty adventurous: the preserved egg and the chilled fried tofu.  When this dish came to the table I was not to sure what I was in for, but I had to try it.  The tofu was slightly odd - Nick generally likes tofu, but this wasn't pressed or prepared at all: it was literally a block of tofu right out of the package, covered in sauce and peanuts.  The preserved egg definitely had a smokey flavor and was a bit odd, but overall I am happy I tried it.  Not until after I ate it did J tell me that a preserved egg is made by leaving it in some ash, clay, salt and lime (among other options) for a few months!

Preserved Egg and Chilled Tofu Dish
Close up on the egg
Seeing as we were at the Dumpling House, we definitely had to try a good variety.  The Dumpling House offers the more traditional variety, but also serves up a "juicy" type that is literally filled with a broth inside the dumpling itself!  Each of the dumplings we sampled was flavorful.  The sauces offered with each dumpling helped to add a bit of seasoning that complemented the dumplings itself.

The "juicy" dumplings were definitely my favorite and there was no need for the sauce as the broth contained within provided all the enhancement necessary.  The trick is not to rip open the dumpling when putting it on your spoon (otherwise the broth leaks out!).  From there, you have to nibble a bit off the top to not only let the steam escape (its hot in there!) but also to allow some of the broth to flow into the spoon.  From there you can either take one big bite, or you can take a couple bites and finish it off.  Either way, wait until it's cooled.  Otherwise, you will burn your tongue and won't taste anything (thanks for the heads up G and J!).

mini-juicy dumplings with pork
Steamed Pork and Leek Dumplings
Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings
In addition to Dumplings, J and G highly recommended the Sliced Fish, Szechuan Style.  During a previous visit, they had seen numerous bowls of this stew come out of the kitchen and finally asked the guests at the table next to them what it was.  When the dish arrived at our table, there was a bit of prep required, namely taking off some of the crushed red pepper topping the fish.  I mean, there was a mountain of it!  Nick and I love spice, but when J said it was plenty spicy without all the extra red pepper, we took his word for it.  Once the prep was completed, J took the spoon and stirred the dish up to make sure the remaining red pepper was scattered throughout, at which point we each took a helping.  This dish was incredible - almost more impressive than the dumplings themselves!  The fish was nice and tender, the greens perfectly wilted, and the spicy broth gave a nice burst of flavor in each bite.

Sliced Fish, Szechuan Style
Nick had seen the Sautéed Flat Noodles with Beef reviewed somewhere when looking at the menu and really wanted to order it.  The noodles were yummy and flavorful, however, this was the only dish that seemed a bit greasy when compared to the rest of the options.  This would be a great order when you are feeling a bit out of sorts after a big evening out!

Flat Noodles with Beef
Finally, with all the entrees we ordered Sautéed Chinese Cabbage to offset all the carbs.  A little green is always a good thing, and bok choy done well is always a favorite for me.  This dish was not overly oily, and the greens were bright and crisp tender.  Another delicious option.

Chinese Cabbage = Bok Choy
For my first official trip to a real Chinatown restaurant, this was such a fun experience!  We were in great hands with G and J, who flawlessly led us through some of their favorites at the Dumpling House.    I am really looking forward to a return trip and maybe soon I will be brave enough to go for Dim Sum!

Where do you go out to eat in Chinatown?  As you can see, I need recommendations!

Gourmet Dumpling House on Urbanspoon


  1. The fish stew and dumplings look delicious! I don't know if I would try the egg though!

  2. I am the same way as you when it comes to Chinatown, I need a tour guide!
    this place looks awesome, though. that preserved egg is something else.

  3. Best review I've read on here so far! Thanks so much, since I've been shying away from authentic Chinatown places from lack of knowledge, NOT fear of the unknown. I just can't afford to waste calories on something that isn't absolutely delicious, and your descriptions and photos help a lot.

  4. I feel the same way about Chinatown. We should explore it together some time!

  5. I have never once eaten in Chinatown, probably something I should do. The noodles and bok choy look excellent

  6. OMG I love preserved egg! It is also called century eggs :) I like Hei La Moon for dimsum (http://www.confessionsofachocoholic.com/dessert/dimsum-brunch) and Chau Chao for dinner.

  7. Ever since I read about them years ago, I've been dying to try soup dumplings. This sounds like a good place to do it! And I haven't been anywhere in Chinatown... I'll have to peek back at the recommendations you get.

  8. those soup dumplings rocked my world, FO REAL!

  9. I think the gourmet dumpling house is the only place I've tried in Chinatown! I've only been once, but loved it. I didn't get the soup dumplings though...now I know I have to order them next time!

  10. A real Chinatown experience is always an adventure. I'm impressed you ate the eggs! Crazy stuff!


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