Dropping Elbows for Some Dumplings
How does Dumpling House (of Chinatown fame) do it?! They charge only $1 for 5 huge pork and chive dumplings. AND, they are delicious. The reason must have something to do the continuous dumpling distribution. You can buy 10, 20, even bags of 50 frozen dumplings. I seriously considered the latter option.
J* and I emerged from the Grand St. subway stop on a Sunday afternoon, roughly 3pm. We hoped the odd hour would help with the rumored crowd. We quickly scurried past the pungent odors of several fish markets to Dumpling House. Several people were grouped outside gazing at the menu over the entrance. Dumpling House is tiny, so you need to do your deciding outside. Only a single layer of people, maybe 5-6 people long, will fit up at the counter at one time. The back of the joint has a small counter with a few stools.
You need to be a bit aggressive to get up to the counter, with your money out, and make your order. And you have to pay attention to when your food is ready or you’ll lose it. While I was waiting at the counter for my food, a dumpling house woman was putting together another girl’s order and turned around for a second to retrieve something else, leaving a styrofoam container of dumplings in a plastic bag awaiting other items. A woman pushed her way up to the counter, put a dollar down, and snatched up the dumplings quickly, leaving with the stunned girl’s order despite shouts from the Dumpling House staff. I gave the girl a sympathetic glance and a shake of my head.
When our order came up, 10 pork and chive dumplings and a sesame pancake stuffed with beef, vegetables, and cilantro (paying $2.50 in total for two people), we quickly devoured it at the back of the restaurant. The dumplings were pan-fried (we specified steamed, but we weren’t going to cause trouble at the counter) and deliciously crispy on the bottom. They were large and generously stuffed with the flavorful pork and vegetable mixture. I loved the sesame pancake stuffed with beef even more, never having sampled such a pancake-sandwich (genius!).
I would fear to attempt Dumpling House during rush hours, but I will definitely be back on an odd afternoon for some cheap eats.