Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dumpling 10053, El Monte, CA - Creative Dumplings Un-creative Restaurant Name

Nostradamus left out a very important prediction in his book. Amidst all things alluding to armageddon and absolute chaos, such as earthquakes, terrorist attacks, celebrity infidelity, Paris, Lindsay and Hillary, etc.... how about things we as foodbloggers actually care about... like where's the next breeding ground for good Asian food in the SGV? Well to answer that, Nostradamus appeared in my dreams last night. But he wasn't European; he was actually an old Chinese man with ashy gray hair, with one of those very attractive moles that had 3-4 strands of 5" hair growing out of it... like vines in the Amazon. The moles that are supposed to give people good luck, when in fact it's just something you tell people so they don't feel so bad about it. With lighting and thunder floating above his head, he told me. "Ooooooohhhhhhh.... (whatever scary sound scary spirits tend to make).... I think it's not in the Alhambra/San Gabriel/Rosemead side of Valley Blvd.... it's actually moved east on Valley Blvd towards El Monte. And it's because of a quaint restaurant by the name of Dumpling 10053. And I am getting sick of the huge Banh Mi Battles on Valley Blvd.... what the hell is that about??? It's just a sandwich! And what about those Monterey Park mommies with those face visors....oh the... " Before he continued ranting on, I went back to sleep. Thanks for the tip - I'm checking it out.

My family and I headed east on Valley Blvd. which was weird for a change. We were so used to going west on Valley to the land of good food. We found Dumpling 10053 in a tiny strip mall, well, by the address of 10053 Valley Blvd.... just a few yards east of Baldwin Avenue. We parked and found ourselves dealing with a good 15 people in front of us. Yes, a very good sign. I put my name down, actually my chinese last name. 10053 is the first place to ever ask me for my last name... "Ni gway shing?" (meaning: your family name please?) How fancylicious. Where was the heavily-needed valet guy? Compact parking spots and Chinese drivers do not meld well. We were seated about 20 minutes later.

About 2 months earlier, I had sent my new foodie scout, Jéan Downs, out to Dumpling 10053 since he was in the area. Jéan Downs accompanied me for a dinner at WD-50 in New York and tried a lot of things for the first time. He has proven to many that he is an enthusiast of good food. He doesn't like to reminisce about the days when he used to eat at Chipotle, El Torito (only with coupons), Baja Fresh (because Santa Ana is too far) and fine Italian meats from Albertson's Deli. He came back to me with a two thumbs up review.

10053 Interior
The restaurant holds about 15 tables; not very big. This place is certainly big enough for people to do the 'Hurry up and f&!!ing Eat Staredown' though. For those unfamiliar with this. It originates in Asia, where restaurants are super small. And if it's cold outside, people waiting to eat will literally stand inside the restaurant next to you while you enjoy your meal. They may even STARE at you so that you hurry up and eat. Screw them, take your time. Maybe even offer them some tea. There are hungry onlookers here though.

Cold Cucumbers (Xiao Huang Gua)
This is a must in any dumpling/noodle shop. Some places will let you walk up to the counter and pick out your own side dishes; most keep their side dishes in a separate drink fridge. These cucumbers however, were bland. In need of extra flavoring, we added our own salt and dollop of chili bean paste. Much better. $2.25

Shredded Bean Curd 'Noodles' (Gan Sih)
These are my favorite and 10053 makes them delicious. I can definitely taste the addition of chicken bouillon which contains MSG and chicken broth flavoring. The sesame oil is nicely glazed on.... making this one of the best 'gan sih' I've eaten in SGV. $2.25

The Dumpling Master Sauce
Everyone has his own 'sauce' for dipping dumplings or scallion pancakes in. Here's a quick guide for the sauce I make. Just don't dip dumplings in soy sauce straight - it's like the white guy from Joy Luck Club juicing the perfectly steamed fish with soy sauce. In your little dish provided, add 1/2 a seconds worth of soy sauce, 1 second of vinegar, 1/2 or 1 teaspoon of chili bean paste depending on your threshold for spiciness and 6-7 drops of sesame oil. Mix well and enjoy. This is not the same sauce for soupy dumplings (xiao long bao)! This is $free.99.

Three-Flavored Dumplings (San Shen Sway Jiao)
People on Chowhound lit up this dish like crazy. And I must join the campaign. These are truly good. Using pork, imitation crab and sea cucumber, a juicy dumpling is made and full of flavor. You almost don't need to use the master sauce. This combination of ingredients is very unique, yet you can still taste all the different textures. You won't find this at many Chinese restaurants. 10 for $6.50.

Centerfold Portrait of the Three-Flavored Dumpling

Shrimp & Leek Dumplings (Sha Joe Tsai Sway Jiao)
These are my favorite and what everyone gets with the Three Flavor dumplings. I've already been to 10053 four times in the last 1.5 months. I can't get enough of these. These are basically like dim sum ha gow's. The shrimp is bound together by egg whites, corn starch with a few slivers of chinese leeks - and it's very juicy. Mmmm. 10 for $6.50.

Centerfold Portrait of the Three-Flavored Dumpling
All I have to say is... 36-24-36 for only 6-50.

Pork Chops with Soup Noodles (Pai Gu Mian)
This is another favorite here at 10053. I usually never get this, but after being here four times and eyeing what the waitresses bring out... it was time to try. And they are beautiful. Perfectly fried, these pork chops have a nice rice wine, white pepper and five-spice taste to them. Sh*t! My stomach just growled. $5.95 with soup noodles. $4.75 for 2 pieces... might as well order the whole set.

Noodle Soup (Part of Pai Gu Mian Combo)
This broth is cooked beautifully. It was a bit salty and cloudy from the noodle washoff. I tasted a lot of MSG in this. But overall, a nice accompaniment to the pork chops.

Beef Stew & Tendon Noodle Soup (Nu Ro Gun Mian)
I have eaten a lot of beef noodle soup in SGV, and so far, this place has moved up to my top 3 rank. The cuts of beef given are soooo nice. The broth has a nice red/brown color to it with virtually no oil and lingering tastes of chili bean paste; has a nice subtle star anise essence to it. This is one fine bowl of NRM.

The ugly-moled Nostradamus was right. In fact, I am thinking about eating there again this weekend. I am determined to try everything on the menu and I can't say that about a lot of Chinese dumpling/noodle shops. Another one of 10053's trademark dishes is the cold sesame chicken noodles. Good for about the first few bites, the sesame paste starts to get sickening. Try sharing this with your friends. I've also tried the rock cod fishball soup and it's just not what I was expecting. Although very clean and fresh, the fishballs lack the Chiu-Chow style of 'bouncey' fish meat. I'd refrain from the Salmon dumplings - cooked salmon is just too dry. Finally, as good as the potstickers look, I'd say no. The filling is 90% vegetable, 10% pork and VERY DRY. By the way, the chinese name for 10053 is 'Yuan Bao Xiao Guan', meaning Gold Ingot Restaurant. This is a Chinese gold ingot. Thanks for reading.

Dumpling 10053
10053 Valley Blvd Suite #2
El Monte, CA 91731
(626) 350-0188

25 comments:

Courtney said...

Ha! Right next to a Chiropractor AND an Acupuncturist

furry_feline said...

I love the "Hurry up, eat and get the f-k out" staredown. Or the subtle ways they slam down the check while you're still chomping down. It's all worth it though.

sarah said...

hey dylan - i think i figured out why your previous submissions weren't fronted on tastespotting - the links on your submissions were to your site instead of the individual posts. tastespotting likes links to posts, not entire blogs. i fixed this one for you :)

Catherine said...

looks deeliiicious! reminds me of mom's cooking. :) been looking for new places to eat dumplings. thanks for the post!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

That's funny, I was on a dumpling kick and tried this place just last week. :P

I loved the shrimp dumplings but thought the sea cucumber one was overrated. The sole fish and leek ones were very good as well.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

courtney, good point, since there's a long wait, you can also get a haircut too and look stylish while you eat.

ff, hey you're alive! where have you and mayoboy been?? haha i love the staredown, i've never done it before but plan to when i'm an old, grumpy ass chinese man with hairy moles.

sarah, thanks!

catherine, definitely give this place a shot. if it isn't good, i'd be glad to provide other recommendations in the same vicinity.

WC, hello. yes i love the shrimp/leek dumplings... more so than the 3-flavor. but that's the opinion of ppl on CH. did you try the beef noodle soup?

elmomonster said...

One of my all-time faves. I need to get back there again! Thanks for the tantalizing centerfold food porn shots.

Rasa Malaysia said...

I agree, their shrimp and leeks dumplings are to die for...man, I will have to go there and eat soon. :)

Tokyoastrogirl said...

Dumplings are like little pillows of soft meaty love. Yum.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

No, 3 dumpling orders for 2 people was more than enough. :P I've heard nice things about that beef tendon noodle soup but decided I'd save it for some other time. I was actually on a dumpling hunt last week and tried 4 different places so I wanted to keep it all dumplings for comparative purposes.

One Food Guy said...

Man I have to stop reading your posts in the morning. I'm starving and the closest good dumplings are 45 minutes away in Chinatown. I like working in the suburbs (i.e. I like the short commute) but man do I miss going into Chinatown for lunch during the week.

H. C. said...

I think I may have gone on a bad day (definitely at the end of the business hours) -- the dumplings I had there were at best, nondescript. The best item I recall is the pan-fried "war wontons" but of course, how can any respectable chinese place screw that up?

May give it a try again if I'm in the El Monte area, but right now I'll stick with the closer & consistently yummier luscious dumplings.

KirkK said...

Hey EDBM - We enjoyed the "3 treasure dumplings" at 10053 - this is one of the few places that I'd take my MIL(from Shandong) for Jiaohzi...I thought the fish dumplings were pretty lousy, though.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Elmo, i'm proud to supply food porn to food pervers out there.

Rasa, hello and thanks for stopping by. The day after i ate there, i went to buy my own shrimp and made my version of it. The key is egg whites and corn starch to bind the shrimp. Good but not as good haha.

TAG, that was beautifully described. I'm taking you, J and J there.

Chopsticks, dang that's 30 dumplings for 2 ppl - way too much food. Which dumpling houses did you check out?

Scott, the next best thing is to buy from the restaurant. In LA, they will sell them to you frozen. Bring a cooler with you!

HC, sorry to hear that, but a second chance is good. I tend not to deem a restaurant bad b/c of something I ordered. Most restaurants excel in a few dishes, not in everything on the menu. Well except for souplantation haha.

Kirk, i have not had the fish dumplings. It does sound bland to me, especially the salmon.

Jenny Sager said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chubbypanda said...

"Ugly-moled Nostradamus", eh? Dude, whatever you're smoking, send some my way. I'll light one up if it'll help me find delicious eats.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Last week I tried J&J, Mei Long Village, Dumpling 10052, and Mandarin Noodle Deli.

I've already posted about Luscious Dumplings, which is still my favorite for the crispiness of the pan-fried, size of dumplings, the homeyness of it, and cleanliness. I'll rank the others after I do my write-ups soon.

I've eaten at Din Tai Fung before I began blogging and guess I'll have to go back to do a write-up too. There's also Dumpling Master. Do you know of any other dumpling houses I'm missing?

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Oops, that should have been Dumpling 10053 of course. ;)

BTW, I noticed a Vietnam Cuisine opening up on Las Tunas. Is it just me or is the SGV becoming a lot more VNese in recent years? I mean, I know there's always been lots of Chinese and Taiwanese, but I used to remember it as being primarily ethnic Chinese-VNese, not VNese-VNese.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Jennysager, hope you like the place.

Chubby, yeah he's all over the place, in Asian restaurants especially. I've even seen a woman with one of those ugly moles. Scary.

WC, that's heavy dumpling intake! There's a chinese/korean-owned joint called Dumpling House in Temple City (rosemead blvd.). There's also Dai Ho in Temple City, but i'm not sure if they sell dumplings - i'm only guessing they do b/c they specialize in beef noodle soup. There's Nice Time Deli in Arcadia (Hao Nian Dong)... Taiwanese joint that should have it. There's also a NTD in Irvine. One of my faves is Noodle King in Alhambra.. they have the long, fried potstickers - usually pretty juicy. Haven't eaten it in a while though b/c i'm trying to cut out fried food. Next door to Noodle King is A&J (which is also in Irvine)... they have potstickers. Dumpling Master I've been to before and it was good. SGV is very much a Chinese & Vietnamese area now, with most Vietnamese residing in Rosemead. You can see that a lot of banh mi shops have opened up on Valley as well. As for xiao long bao's, I prefer Mei Long Village and Green Village (Valley/Del Mar - great Mall of China). DTF is too zagaty - it's good there but overpriced. Give Noodle King's XLB's a shot too - you might like them. Hope this helps. Oh yeah, i've got Luscious Dumpling on my list next. Will read your review before I go there.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Wow, thanks for the list. So many!

Oh, and BTW, we did not eat all 30 dumplings between the two of us. It's all about the leftovers. :)

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Gary Lee said...

Next time you're in SGV, can you let me know . . . i friggin LOVE Dumplings . . . although 6.50 for 10 is a lil over my price range . . that would cost me 19.50 just for my share of dumplings!!!

Anonymous said...

Try the steamed pork ribs it's awesome

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