Man alive, what a beautiful day. Paul and I just got back from a walk ‘round downtown. The San Gennaro Festival is in full swing, which we’d forgotten about, but it just served to force us off the more familiar streets and onto the ones we’ve never before explored. Which is fine, really, because as a result we discovered Dumpling House, at 118A Eldridge Street.
Get thee to the Dumpling House. Right now.
It’s one of those teeny tiny little storefronts that’s maybe six feet across and twenty feet deep. There’s seating for maybe four people. Everybody else is standing at the counter or piled up on the sidewalk, ordering through the window. And why? Because their food is incredibly cheap and delicious. Fried dumplings that will just blow you away, piping hot and savory and gingery and everything you could want in a potsticker, five for a buck. The cooks—five people crammed behind a tiny counter, maybe six, it was hard to tell—were cranking out dumplings as fast as they could, because the minute they came off the stove somebody bought them. We knew that we had to wait a moment or we’d burn our tongues, but the smell coming out of the little styrofoam clamshell made it hard. Eventually, we had to succumb to our appetites and risk getting scorched. I nibbled on one of Paul’s while I waited for my own order to come up. Heaven.
But if the dumpling was heaven, then superlatives fail to describe the beauty of my own lunch. A ‘sesame pancake with beef,’ they called it: it started with a pizza-sized round of soft dough, white and chewy and dusted with sesame seeds and then fried like a dumpling. The dough was cut into sectors (again, think pizza here), and then split through the middle, so the top could be peeled back from the bottom. Into the middle they layered handfuls of fresh grated carrot, fresh chopped cilantro, and cold roast beef flavored gently with anise. Over that, they squirted a peppery-vinegary red sauce. Then they close the thing back up, slip it into a pale wax-paper envelope, and there you are. For a dollar freakin’ fifty.
That was maybe three hours ago, and my taste buds are still all twinkly. We walked from Chinatown to Chelsea and I had a big goofy smile on my face the whole time. And, and I just bought tickets to go see Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence tonight with the boys!
What an excellent day.
EDITED: although its dumplings are indeed excellent, the name of the place is just “Dumpling House.” The “Excellent Dumpling House,” on the other hand, is that place on Lafayette (which is good, sure, but frankly not as good as the just-plain-Dumpling-House).