On Christmas day, we pulled A Christmas Story and went to Chinatown for dinner. Nothing is open on Christmas day, but that didn't stop me from wanting to try a new place. Dumpling Cafe, it was.
This tiny restaurant was bumpin' on Christmas. I'm not sure if it's always like that or if it's due to others being in a situation similar to mine, but we had to put our names on a list and stand in a small, cramped waiting area before we could be seating. Our wait was easily a half hour or so. But we were just happy to be able to squeeze inside the small waiting area, which was enclosed, rather than wait outside.
When we were finally called, we sat at our table, and they seated another couple at the end of our table. Be prepared to get to know your dining companions well. It was a little odd, but there was one empty chair between us, so it really wasn't bad.
The Taiwanese restaurant has noodle dishes, lamb, frog, duck tongus, bass, pork shoulder, pork intestines, chicken dishes, and just all kinds of stuff. But their specialty is their dumplings, of course. And from numerous rave reviews, it was clear their xiao long bao was THE thing to get. AKA "mini juicy buns with pork" on their menu ($6.50).
I also ordered their mango shrimp as a main course. Before we got either of these, we were brought tea, which was tasty. I also ordered a water at that point so I would have enough to drink throughout my meal. You'd be smart to do the same. They don't come and check on you - they bring your food and your bill. If you need something in the meantime, good luck.
Soup dumplings came out first in their little basket. I watched the couple at the end of our table (see, this has benefits!) eat their soup dumplings because I know these bad boys contain super hot broth, and I'm not trying to be in pain. So, take the soup dumpling with your chopsticks, place it in the soup spoon, nibble a little hole to suck some of the broth out, then do your best attempt to get a well-rounded bite of all the ingredients. I spent most of the time trying to suck just the right amount of broth out before shoving the whole thing in my mouth.
I haven't had anything like this, so it's easy for me to say they were the best I've ever had. It amazes me that this tender and thin skin - but strong - contains this scalding broth. And inside is this perfectly balanced rich, salty, sweet, hearty broth with pork and other delicious spices. Oh, and they give you some soy sauce and ginger, so try that, too.
Kaitylnn ordered a fried dumpling, which was also delish. More familiar, but still delish.
Okay mango shrimp. Holy god. Holy. God. So good. I know it's simple, but when it's done right - it's just the perfect combo. Love the sweet mango sauce. Love the crunchy pea pods and cool slices of mango, fresh shrimp, bamboo shoots. So good. I wish this was a dish I could find easily here. Get both of these. I'm sure there are more adventurous dishes that could pan out well. But if you want a damn good meal, this.