I've always enjoyed a plateful of freshly boiled dumplings, or even fried if they haven't been sitting around. But as a Woodside resident, I simply refuse to travel to Flushing or Manhattan for the express purpose of eating them. So, I was happy to find Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House in Elmhurst, Queens.
It's a typical Five Fried Dumplings For A Buck operation, with minimal decor. There's one table for four, ringed by about 10 stools at the counter. Actually, they also have a bathroom, so it's a cut above its counterparts in that respect.
The fried dumplings are pork and chive (5 for $1). They offer a "steamed" (more like vigorously boiled) version of the same, with a minimum order of 10 for $2. Also steamed are pork and nappa dumplings, as well as "vegetable" and "triple delight" options (the latter two are 8 for $2). They had three more hand-scrawled dumpling offerings in Chinese.
I had a plate of the boiled pork and chive dumplings, and one of the mystery options. While the distinction may be trivial when we're talking five-for-a-buck dumplings, I liked the fact that the pork is minced, not ground. I don't know enough about Chinese dumpling to determine whether this a regional difference or an idiosyncrasy of this place's dumpling maker. I do know that the resulting texture of the filling is more resilient than the ground/paste versions in a pleasing way.
The mystery filling seemed to have a slight bitter green mixed into the pork. At first I thought it was yu choi (Chinese broccoli?), but then I tasted a bit a mustardy-ness. Whatever it was, the assertive herbal note was a welcome contrast.
The rest of the menu is filled out by various types of buns, sesame pancakes and noodle soups (nothing more than $4). While the menu listing itself doesn't suggest anything special, the minced pork filling alone is enough for me to try their other offerings.
Does anyone know of other dumpling places in the area?
Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House
86-08 Whitney Ave.
Elmhurst, NY 11373
Get off at Elmhurst stop on the R/V/G and it's about a two minute walk.
Lao Bei Fang
83-05 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373