Tag Archives: dumplings

Cheap NYC Chinatown eats at Vanessa’s Dumpling House

China flagWe were in NYC right before Chinese New Year and found ourselves hankering for some good, cheap Chinese food. Vanessa’s Dumpling House (118A Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002) came highly recommended by my cousin, who is always in the know. When we arrived on a bone-chillingly cold day, there was already a very large line, and huge trays of Beijing-style dumplings basically flying out the door. We knew we were in the right place.

Vanessa's Dumpling House

Dumpling prep at Vanessa’s Dumpling House

The specialties of Vanessa’s are dumplings – obviously – but also an intriguing Northern-Chinese style dish – the sesame pancake. The sesame pancake was a must-have according to my cousin, and it was a completely intriguing dish to us, cooked in a giant round pan, and cut into manageable triangles. Despite the name “pancake,” this was basically a Chinese riff on focaccia bread. It had a light bread-y texture, coated with oil and topped with sesame seeds – a little greasy maybe, but totally delicious. And a slice is only $1! Yes, this place is crazy cheap. Vanessa’s takes the sesame pancake concept one further by even making sandwiches out of the sesame pancakes with fillings like beef and Peking duck ($2-3).

Vanessa's Dumpling House

Fried dumplings

Onto the dumplings – we ordered a mix of fried and boiled. We got the four fried pork and chive dumplings for only $1.25, eight boiled veggie dumplings, and eight boiled chicken and basil ($4 for 8). The dumplings were perfectly formed and cooked to perfection, though we slightly preferred the slightly crispy skin of the pan-fried dumplings. We also appreciated the soy and chili dipping sauces that came with each order. It was a real treat to watch the production at Vanessa’s – talk about a well oiled machine. You can also pick up some 50-packs of frozen dumplings to enjoy in the comfort of your own home ($7-14). We took our goodies to go and heartily enjoyed our little taste of Chinatown. We can’t think of a better place to get a cheap dumpling fix – and you absolutely have to try the sesame pancake.

Vanessa's Dumpling House

Batch of dumplings being cooked at Vanessa’s Dumpling House

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Handmade noodles and dumplings at Katy’s Dumpling House

Katy’s Dumpling House
1113 Lake St.
Oak Park, IL

China flagEveryone has been raving about Katy’s Dumpling for ages, with buzz bubbling up on LTH forum as far back as the mid-2000s. When I first heard about Katy’s it was only a single outpost in suburban Westmont. However, in later years it has mushroomed into three locations sprinkled throughout the Western suburbs. We had a friend staying near the shiny, new Oak Park outpost, so we decided to finally give the storied Katy’s a try. The Oak Park version had a very modern feel, with big red booths and wood paneling; apparently, the previous tenant was another Chinese restaurant, Hutong, which explains the semi-temporary feel.

Katy's Dumpling House in Oak Park, IL

Katy’s Dumpling House in Oak Park, IL

Katy’s menu was large, featuring a variety of appetizers, noodle dishes and rice entrees. We also appreciated the sprinkling of regional dishes like Spicy Beggar’s Chicken Jiangnan Style and Dan Dan noodles from Chengdu. However, we were really at Katy’s for the dumplings and noodles. The dumplings came mainly in meat and vegetable combos ($6.95-8.95) for either 10 boiled dumplings or 8 Pot Stickers. We started out with two orders of dumplings: pork and chives and chicken and bok choy, both in Pot Sticker form. The dumpling dough was perfectly tender, and was well-proportioned to the filling, a delicate balance that can often go awry. We also thought they were pan-fried perfectly!

Katy's Signature Dumplings

Katy’s Signature Dumplings

From the selection of hand-pulled noodles, L ordered the Singapore-style noodles ($7.95), which were Cantonese-style thin vermicelli noodles in a mild soy and curry sauce. While the sauce was good, the standout were the phenomenally-light noodles. Our dining companion also ordered the basil chicken ($7.95), which while good, was extremely spicy (perhaps a misunderstanding there, since M had in fact ordered his “extra spicy”) and was chock full of whole chili peppers. M opted for a Uyghur dish: Xinjiang-style cumin beef ($8.95). It was slightly oily, but M appreciated the vibrant and earthy flavor from the whole cumin pods and red chiles.

Singapore Noodles at Katy's Dumpling House

Singapore Noodles at Katy’s Dumpling House

Now we don’t know what the original Katy’s in Westmont is like, so keep that in mind, but we heartily enjoyed the Oak Park outpost. Everything we ordered was excellent, and we especially loved the fresh noodles and dumplings, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, stood above the rice dishes.

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