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Highlight of my recent trip to the Capitol was a dinner stop at Journey to the Dumpling in Elk Grove on my way home. It had been open for four weeks.
Arriving at 6:30pm, the place was packed. I was given an estimated 45 minute wait time for a single table. I took a walk around the mall and browsed for shoes. The host at Journey to the Dumpling impressed me right off the bat when something opened up at the 30-minute point just as I returned.
Pork filled xiao long bao (XLB aka soup dumplings), $9.50, came out hot and fresh from the kitchen. In a big size steamer, none of the dumplings touched each other. These were accompanied by the traditional black vinegar with fresh ginger shreds and a touch of oil.
No MSG or sugar in the pork stuffing. The texture was a bit rough and too coarse. The flavor benefited from a touch more salt in the dipping sauce.
Delicate wrappers were thin and elastic, as shown here. Thinner in fact than the ones from Din Tai Fung in Santa Clara. These have a bountiful amount of porcine stock and none of them leaked. Excellent job.
Journey Noodle Soup, $8.50, is the one dish that features handmade noodles. While noted as "la mian", these were unlike any handpulled noodles I've had before. Wide and thick, these had satisfying chew. However, the rest of the dish failed to grab me. The "mushrooms and a medley of vegetables" turned out to be mostly chunks of carrots and green beans. And the pork belly was a few bits of dried out lean pork. The soup had an out of balance sweetness to it.
Pushing aside the noodle soup, I figured I had room to order another dish. Glad I did to end on a high note. Shrimp and Zucchini Potstickers, $9.50, are made in the Shandong style with a crispy halo and open ends.
Thin wrappers seemed machine-made and were a little underdone in spots. The chunks of shrimp in the naturally sweet filling were juicy and not overcooked. The halo was too thick for my taste but better thick than none at all. I'd happily consume these again.
The specific dipping sauce for the potstickers was especially good providing a slightly sweet and spicy sesame-scented umami hit as contrast to the pan-fried dumplings.
The three partners in this venture are Chef Justin from Shanghai, Chris is Cantonese and Yvonne is Vietnamese. They have a winner on their hands.
Since my visit, the menu has expanded to include more types of dumplings including pork and snow crab XLB. I'm looking forward to returning to try more of the repertoire.
Journey to the Dumpling
7419 Laguna Blvd #180
Elk Grove, CA 95758
Phone: (916) 509-9556
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