With the first mention of iDumpling (or I Dumpling) by bbulkow in this thread,
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8447... , I made a mental note to give it try ASAP. Two weeks ago I had a chance to try it with William when our mother was visiting. Greeted warmly by the owner, I discovered that my brother had already been there enough times to be considered a regular.
Garlic with Crushed Cucumber, $5.85, yes, that’s what it’s called on the menu. And there’s enough garlic that the inversion is pretty accurate. The cucumbers used are the smaller, sweeter, tender-skinned Persian or Japanese variety rather than supermarket commodity type. Well-salted, very garlicky and bruised just enough to soak in the seasonings, a good job with this cold appetizer.
Fresh Cilantro Salad/Bean Stick, $5.95, was a standout of chewy tofu skin tossed with aromatic cilantro leaves and sesame in a delectably salty dressing. The salt level was starting to build up at this point and we were drinking a lot of tea to wash it down.
Sauerkraut Pork Soup Noodle, $6.95, was my least favorite dish. A huge and solidly packed bowl of soup leaving little headspace for the broth, the strips of pork and stock smelled rank and barnyard for me. Also the fresh, thickish noodles turned soggy and soft in the hot broth.
Green Chives Pan Cakes (2), $5.95, did not do much for me either. The tough pastry was soaked through with oil, and the filling of scrambled egg curds, Chinese chives and bean threads was pretty bland. When we failed to pack up the leftover, the owner asked what the problem was and seemed hurt and surprised that we didn’t care for this one. He said it’s a popular item.
William has ordered the Sliced Marinated Pig Ear, $5.95, cold appetizer each visit and he said this plate was the best yet. The seasoning has been the same each time, but sometimes the strips are a bit thinner. A little softer with less of a cartilage crackle than I would like, this hits the texture that my brother prefers.
The Lamb Dumplings (12), $6.95, were the highest-priced selection on the water dumpling (shui jiao) menu and my favorite dish of the night. Definitely hand-made wrappers, yet these were not as thick and doughy. While not thin, the wrappers were tender rather than firm and chewy and I liked them a lot. With the chile sauce, these gamey lamb dumplings are worth a drive to Redwood City.
I was fascinated by the chile sauce on each table, and asked the owner if it was housemade. He was pleased that we had noticed the difference and said that he had taste-tested 11 commercial brands and decided he needed to make his own. There’s a natural sweetness that tastes like caramelized onions and garlic, then a rounded chile burn that starts off slowly on entry and fans out further back on the palate.
William recommended trying one of the bento dinners. I saw one ordered by another table and it looks great for less than $7.
We didn’t get a chance to ask about the restaurant’s name. The menu is printed with “I Dumpling”, but naturally one wonders if it’s supposed to be Apple-ized as iDumpling. Or perhaps “I, Dumpling” as in I, Robot or I, Claudius or even as mundane as No. 1 Dumpling, similar to the now closed No. 1 Dumpling House in New York. Next chowhound who eats there, please find out.
Tuesday thru Sunday
11:30am to 3:30pm
5:00pm to 9:00pm