All Hail Fried Dumpling and Their Glorious Regime! Sincerely, Little Girl.

by James Boo on February 13, 2009 · 3 comments

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This is the third post of a week-long series.
You can read the first post
here and the second post here.

In this week’s dumpling survey I’ve only written about five dumpling houses, partly because I want to stay within the $1 range and partly because anything more would be unacceptably tedious, even for someone who files all of his MP3s by record release year. While I hope to have sufficiently conveyed the beauty of the value fried dumpling, other meals under $5- hand pulled noodles, steamed dumplings, soups, pork buns and sesame pancakes, to name a few- and the places that serve them will have to wait for another day. This feature is going to close on the purest, if not most appetizing, representative of the fried dumpling and its most natural milieu: a fried dumpling house named Fried Dumpling. I did NOT see that one coming.

Fried Pork and Chives Dumplings - Fried Dumpling (Allen St) - New York City Chinatown Fried Dumpling - Allen St, New York City Chinatown
Fried Dumpling is well known to Chinatown familiars and housed in two locations with two diametrically opposed characters. The first, at the corner of Allen and Delancey, typifies the ho-hum hole in the wall. Food is business, not only to the cooks behind the counter but also to the diners dropping in for a perfunctory bite. The spark of bedlam found in Prosperity, Vanessa’s and Tasty Dumpling are nowhere to be found in this laid back, three-table pit stop.

Likewise, the fried dumplings here are a cookie cutter standard. That isn’t to say they aren’t tasty, but they’re not the midnight mirage I’ll be reaching for when I wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Fried Dumpling’s dumplings tend to be crisped only on the bottom, leading to a more rubbery, starchy texture. Their filling lacks any kind of forward flavor- as delicious as pork is even when it’s lackluster, these are the only dumplings of the week that require a plash of Sriracha to bring them to life. They’re sculpted in the image of Prosperity’s dumplings but lacking the requisite personality to make them a worthy adversary.

Fried Dumpling (Mosco St.) - New York Chinatown Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings - Fried Dumpling (Mosco St.) - New York Chinatown
Fried Dumpling’s more popular location, in the alleyway known as Mosco St, is an archetype of the eccentric hole in the wall, complete with its own Dumpling Nazi. Whereas the cooks on Allen St. exude an everyday calm, the bracing woman on Mosco St. looks her customers right past the eyes, vivaciously mixes up their orders and confuses them with halting declarations of dollar amounts, possibly in an attempt to seize respect from the jaws of inconvenience (hers, not yours).

Respect is paid, despite the fact that the Mosco St. dumplings are entirely inconsistent, perfectly crisped on all sides one day, with a powerful, savory, greasy filling that would give Prosperity a run for its dollars, but clammy and rubbery the next, with a limping splotch of pork and chives that barely gets the job done. Unlike the predictable mediocrity of Fried Dumpling on Allen St, adventure and anxiety are the Dumpling Nazi’s specialties, and they seem to be in high demand.

On my last visit, the customer in front of me, after failing miserably to explain that she only wanted five dumplings, not nine, forked over her two dollars and conceded: “I’m telling you, every time I come here she treats me like a bald-headed stepchild.” I may not find myself at Fried Dumpling’s counter again anytime soon, but if ever there were a poster child for two dollars’ worth of customer loyalty, it would have a hard time competing with the legend of Calva, the Hairless Little Dumpling Girl of Mosco Street.

Fried Dumpling
99 Allen St.
New York, NY 10002
Fried Dumpling
106 Mosco St.
New York, NY 10013
Kris February 14, 2009 at 6:04 am

All these posts about dumplings made me go out and get some (albeit the Safeway, frozen, take-home-and-cook kind. What’re ya gonna do in Golden, CO?). They do make a delicious late-night snack.

James February 14, 2009 at 4:55 pm

You could always try making your own and keeping a dumpling stash in the freezer… a bit tedious, but not the hardest thing in the world and especially rewarding if you make a truckload in one day :)

foodhoe February 15, 2009 at 10:24 pm

yeah, I’d be there in line just hoping for some for abuse and anxiety…

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