The San Francisco Bay Area has seen several new openings of Northern Chinese style restaurants in the last couple years to mix it up a bit with the Cantonese places that dominate California. Apparently this trend has reached Watsonville too. My cousin in town has been telling me about this new spot, Zen Dumpling, opened three months ago by a couple from Harbin, China. She’s been patronizing them weekly. Sensing that the cooking may be too authentic for the neighborhood, she’s trying to keep them in business.
I’ve not been in yet myself, but did snag a taste of some leftovers from when my mom visited. The chicken and chive dumplings (shui jiao) are handmade with thick, chewy wrappers and as authentic as can be. The noodles (la mian) are hand-pulled for a nice chew.
I also saw the remains of sweet and sour chicken and an odd fish salad that had battered and fried pieces of fish on top of baby salad greens. Neither looked very appetizing. My aunt indicated that some dishes may not be part of their native cuisine and they’re making them because the locals expect them.
My cousin also recommended the various pancake items, including the beef roll and the chive pancake. She suggested skipping the mushu pork. I hope some chowhounds will give it a try and report back.
1116 Main St