January 9, 2008

The Dumpling Man

There are certain foods I crave when the weather turns cold and the days grow shorter--hearty soups, hot teas. They are my comfort foods during dreary weather, and for one reason or another, they are foods I find delicious when it's cold. You may not think of Asian dumplings as comfort food, but just trust me. They're little meals wrapped up in dough--what's not to love?

Dumpling Man is a small restaurant situated in the East Village on St. Mark's Place near 1st Ave. The restaurant is a skinny room with bar seating that faces the dumpling-making area. Sitting here, you can watch ladies as they make
and form dumplings at lightning speed. You order, pick up, and pay at the same place--no tipping required. Dumplings are offered in four main varieties: pork, chicken, veggie and shrimp. The prices are low: 3.95 to 5.25 for six, depending on the flavor and if you prefer your dumplings steamed or seared.

The menu also features a few small salads, miso soup and flan (an interesting touch), but dumplings are what we were after, and, judging by the name, what they are known for. We tried all four main varieties, seared. The dough is excellent, not too thick, not too doughy, and searing it adds a bit of crunch. The pork was my favorite-- juicy, with balanced, subtle seasonings like chives and ginger. The only dumpling not approved was the veggie. Although not particularly bad, and a viable option for a vegetarian, it was a little "green" for our taste and lacked the substance a dumpling can only get from meat.

I would return to the
Dumpling Man.. as a matter of fact, I'm wishing I had a few dumplings right about now. It is a little out of the way if you don't frequent the East Village, but they might be worth the trip if all of this is sounding good to you. Enjoy. - Laurel

Working in Chinatown, I feel like I could get a good dumpling anywhere (in fact, stay tuned for an "excellent" dumpling place we recently ventured upon). But when Laurel showed me the website for this place, it took about three seconds to convince me it would be excellent. First of all, their mascot is an anime-esque dumpling face, which is exciting/scary in itself, but THEN when you scroll your mouse over it, the dumpling winks at you . Yes, I know, it's dorky, but I love it. Logo's are everything. If you have a terrible logo, you probably suck (Slipknot).

However, I must say that traveling to the
Dumpling Man is even better. Watching those Asian women fill, poke and twist the dumplings into different shapes and sizes was very enthralling (besides the delicious taste of course). Not only is it interesting how fast they work, but also how they distinguish between the different varieties using colors. The chicken is orange, veggies are green, and even though the shrimp and pork are the same color, they're different shapes. Also (which might be a slightly unsanitary part of this story, but it's okay) - behind the counter, the owner came out and was talking and goofing off with the workers. And the girl working the counter had probably the craziest makeup I'd ever seen, and looked like an ex-punker who only applied for a job at the Dumpling Man because of the anime-esque logo.

In other words, in addition to some of the best dumplings I've ever had (the shrimp one has corn in it!), you get a show. And a good one. You can even buy a t-shirt out of it, or a cute pair of underwear - all brandished with that scary little dumpling head. I strongly suggest the Dumpling Man, but if you decide to get a little dumpling- don't order out, dine in. - Jennifer

Address: 100 St. Marks Place (at 1st Ave)

Website: http://dumplingman.com/

Take Out: yes, + frozen dumplings available

Delivery: yes, limited area

Payment: Cash only

Open Late: 12:30am on weekends

Large Group Friendly: no

Bar/Happy Hour: no

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