Bottom Chef: I am a dumpling tour

Early this past summer, Emiliano and I embarked on a mini tour of the Mexican foods of Sunset Park, Crooklyn. The immense amount of fun we had (usually at someone else’s expense) coupled with the immense amount of food we consumed gave birth to the ultimate food tour project: Lettuce is Bullshit or Bottom Chef. Here’s the breakdown babies: Emi is a full-time photographer and part-time food lover, I am a full-time food lover and part-time photographer…we are both full-time divas-in-the-making and future fame whores. Discuss.

No, really. Here is the breakdown: We both agree to a general food group and I come up with the list of restaurants/snack carts/trucks/hole-in-the-wall-food-joints and Emiliano takes photos of the food tour.

We had thought long and hard about what the next LIB/Bottom Chef tour was going to be, when I (yes, moi) realized what a great and gratifying food tour would be if we went to a bunch of dumpling joints in Chinatown. Emi agreed, but let’s be honest, he eats anything and didn’t have a choice.

We started off at Super Taste Restaurant, a bare bones, authentic Chinese food restaurant specializing in Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles (also known as beef noodles). With about 26 seats, Super Taste is tiny and nondescript. The experience at Super Taste is similar to the “cheap Chinese food” store fronts where you order your food at a counter which frames an”open” kitchen. I’m 100% down with this type of no-frills food. No BS. No one bothering you. Just order your grub and sit…a wonderful place to come to if you are feeling anti-social like Emiliano.

Slurping noodles. Alone.
Slurping noodles. Alone.

We ordered the fresh pork noodle soup and steamed dumplings. They arrived very quickly and were piping hot. The noodles and accompanying broth and pork were all made fresh, we even confirmed this by taking a peek into the kitchen to watch the cooks make the noodles. It was then that I decided to hire the staff as my personal chefs (true story…ish?). The noodles were shiko shiko and tsuru tsuru, the broth was clean and well seasoned and the pork wasn’t overcooked and had a nice texture that can only come from the freshest of pigs.

The dumplings were outrageous. Seriously. The. Best. Pork. Dumplings. Ever. The dumpling wrapper had a similar texture to the noodles (chewy and thin) but it was the filling that was winner. It was the standard pork and chives filler but Super Taste lived up to its name and delivered quite the savory morsel of juicy dumpling. It was also the perfect ratio of filling to shell – not too much of either. I wanted to open up my bag and swipe all the dumplings and run out of there. But I didn’t. No, No. I held back, yes I did. Though looking back, nothing would have made be happier than to return home to discover s wiped dumpling in my wallet.

Fresh Pork Noodle Soup @ Super Taste
Dumplings @ Super Taste. Did you ever want to kidnap something so badly?

After injecting our veins with the crack that was Super Taste we moseyed on to another popular dumping hole-in-the-wall, Prosperity Dumplings. Here we found a tiny box with 2 bars stools and this gentleman who was delighted to have us there:

Our dealer @ Prosperity Dumplings
Our dealer @ Prosperity Dumplings. I wanted to kidnap him too.

Prosperity is best known for selling their dumplings @ 5/$1. YES. That is no typo. Five pockets of joy for one dollar. Ya heard? WWJD? Yep, we ordered the recessionista spesh: two orders of one dollar fried pork and chive dumplings. These dumplings were not as good as Super Taste, the wrapper was glossy and a bit tougher than I usually like and the filling was not as fresh but a total score given that we only paid a measly dollar for 5. Emi was also wondering about the sesame pancakes which are famed here but, alas, to our dismay Prosperity was fresh out. Next time. Fo sho.

Frying dumplings @ Prosperity
Frying dumplings @ Prosperity

After washing down these little guys with some soda. We started to feel a bit, well, full. And by full I mean it was time to hit up the third spot on our list: Vanessa’s Dumpling House. Vanessa’s decor is very polished and from the yuppie looking clientèle, we knew it probably wasn’t going to be as good as the authenticity we had experienced at Super Taste and Prosperity. Nevertheless, we trucked on and ordered a smattering of afternoon delights: Pork & chive dumplings, pork fried buns, a pork & scallion steamed roll and bubble tea to wash down the impending grease.

The trifecta @ Vanessa's Dumpling House
The trifecta @ Vanessa's Dumpling House

The dumplings were meh, at best. Really nothing special. I hardly even remember how they taste. The pork buns were good, standard. Again, nothing special. The pork & scallion steamed roll, however, was to die for. Heart-attack inducing, lovely bites of pork and sticky bun, you scene stealer, you. You divine act of god. iHeart you and want to steal you and put you in my pocket. Yes, it was that good.

As we rolled out of Vanessa’s and waddled to the East Village for post-tour shots of espresso, we deemed this a rather successful tour de Chinatown dumplings with Super Taste leading the pack. In the coming months of winter and the doom of the recession, we will definitely be back to sample more dumpling love.

Super Taste Restaurant
26 N. Eldridge St, NYC
Fresh Pork Noodle Soup: $4.50
Steamed Pork Dumplings: 5 for $3.00

Prosperity Dumplings
46 Eldridge St, NYC
Fried Pork Dumplings: 5 for $1.00

Vanessa’s Dumpling House
118 Eldridge St, NYC
Fried Pork Dumplings: 4 for $1.00
Steamed Pork Buns: 3 for $1.00
Steamed Pork and Chive Roll: $1.50

All photographs by Emiliano Granado.

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