The results are in. My 9 year old daughter, Cass, and I visited NYC from Michigan this weekend. We visited Chinatown both Saturday and Sunday morning in search of a great fried dumpling. Here's what we found:
Fried Dumplings on Allen Street. I'd say this is the best place to go after the bars. 5 dumplings for $1, and a coke cost another buck. We were hungry and these hit the spot. We rated the food on a scale of 1 to 3 as follows: looks - 2; smell 2+; outside 3; inside 2+; and overall taste (on a scale of 1 to 5) - 4-. Total score: 13+. Said Cass, when she announced she was ready to go to the next spot: "we're pigs, and we don't care!"
Joe's Shanghai on Pell Street. This was by far the best dumpling we've ever had. 8 dumplings for $4.50 and tea along with it. More sauces than FD (this being a sit-down place). Food scores: looks - 3; smell 2+; outside 3; inside - 2+; overall taste - 5. Total score: 16. To be honest, we might have graded a little bit tougher because we were only at the second joint on the tour. These were fantastic. Said Cass: "I'll need to eat some more of those babies!"
Shanghai Cafe on Mott. Funny thing, we found out we were getting pretty full by the time we each ate 10+ dumplings or so! Another 8 dumplings for $4.50. We liked these the least of the spots on our tour. The dough was thick and gooey. Scores: looks - 2+; smell - 2+; outside - 2-; inside 3- (extra chives was a nice touch); overall taste - 4. Total score: 13. Admitted Cass: "I'm stuffed and I can't eat any more." PS the chile paste was by far the best I tasted (" 'it has a neat smoky taste,' Nick said").
After a light snack Saturday evening (joke) at Balthazar, we were ready to rock on Sunday morning. The continued results:
Dumpling House on Eldridge. The best of the "cheap eats." 5 for $1 and another buck for the coke. Scores: looks - 2+; smell - 2; outside - 2; inside 3 (great flavor); overall taste - 4+. Total score: 14. Enjoyed eating these while watching a soccer game in the nearby park.
New Green Bo: second place dumplings here, nothing to be ashamed of. I forget the cost because we ended up ordering a whole bunch of stuff for 4 (and still the tab was less than $25). The dumplings were longer and fried to a beautiful color. Scores: looks - 3; smell - 2+; outside - 2+; inside - 2+; overall taste - 4+. Total score: 15. Thanks to the chowhound who suggested the steamed crab and pork buns. I'm still full.
That's it for our food test. A couple other NYC food observations: buying a hot dog off the street from the right stand can be quite a great appetite stimulant. But even though that caused Cass and me to devour an entire John's pizza on Friday night, we still give the edge to DiFara's pizza (previous trip) for the slightly softer crust and messier slice (personal preference). And where, oh where, do they have Italian ice stands anymore?
Be well, New York. We're comin' back!