A table of hounds tried the fare at Gourmet Dumpling House a few days after Christmas, and as Dr.Jimbob puts it, “a title like ‘Gourmet Snack House’ would be closer to the target on this place. They aren’t really a dumpling house at all, but seem to serve up a variety of treats from a range of Chinese coastal cuisines (in this case, Shanghai/Zhejiang, Fujian/Taiwan and Guangdong) with expert skill, though not aiming for the rarefied or the sublime.”
Best thing on the table: sautéed eel with yellow chives, which Dr.Jimbob calls “expert” and “flavorful,” if not quite classic Shanghainese because it didn’t come served in a pool of raw garlic and oil. Beware, those who haven’t ordered the dish before: the preparation of very small eel fillets does not resemble the barbecued eel one finds in Japanese restaurants. “The first time I had it in New York, I was grossed out by the sight of what looked like worms on the plate,” says Dr.Jimbob. “But then I tried it. And I haven’t been able to get enough of them since.”
Dr.Jimbob is also crazy about the Taiwanese-style rice cake with pork and vegetables, a savory patty of perfectly al dente, nongreasy rice with a “beautifully balanced” meat and vegetable mix served on top. Other hounds are fans of Gourmet Dumpling House’s xiao long bao (a.k.a. soup dumplings), which are nicely formed and contain an unusually generous amount of crabmeat. They’re served on a steamy cloth napkin instead of the typical lettuce or cabbage leaf, and Wursthof says “the cloth napkin actually released the dumplings a little easier,” important for those intent on slurping every last bit of soup from the dumplings.
Gourmet Dumpling House [Chinatown]
52 Beach Street, Boston