At last, we got a group of dumpling-lovers together for our next sampling of the world’s perfect food. “Why,” you may ask yourself, “does Cheryl try so hard to make this come together?” It’s simple. I want to know where the best dumplings in Burlington are. And if I don’t have friends help me try them all, how can I know?
So here we finally were. I’m compelled to start by asking a question. Why didn’t I give Mark a real wine glass? This is how distracted I get when dumplings are around.
Plus I did not get a picture of the best dumplings we tried at this first concerted sampling of Burlington’s take-out dumplings, but more on that later.
A group of friends came by with samplings from:
- Pho Hong (though they don’t have real dumplings, they were on the way for Kecia, who brought a sort of wonton-style pho soup, which we enjoyed but couldn’t judge the same way)
- City Market‘s dim sum selection of pork and vegetarian potstickers, and shrimp siu mai
- China Garden‘s wontons in spicy sesame sauce
- Silver Palace‘s shrimp dumplings, which don’t seem to be on their online menu, and vegetarian potstickers
- Pacific Rim‘s shrimp siu mai, and potstickers.
For good measure, our 8 year-old guest asked that her mom bring Ling-Ling frozen chicken dumplings too. Though we weren’t planning to sample things from the retail side, it was helpful to have for comparison.
After our visit to Joyce’s, our standards are raised. Once you’ve gotten a taste for home-made wrappers and fillings with flavor and texture, it’s hard to take mediocrity the same way. We’ll see how the guests rate their experiences, but I’m sorry that my initial report is that the ones from City Market (reheated by pan frying/steaming with just a bit of water and oil on the stovetop) fell into the mediocre category. The vegetarian ones were nearly flavorless, and the meat ones were only slightly better. I might have enjoyed the shrimp siu mai more, except in comparison to what guests brought.
Pacific Rim’s dumplings had a lovely presentation, and were pretty good. Not super, but good, decent flavor.
China Express’s spicy wontons looked beautiful, were spicy enough to get your attention, and had filling with good flavor.
In take-out, you have to account for some loss of texture, and accept that flavors will meld a little more than they would if the food had been eaten fresh. Crisp vegetables will wilt and fried food can get soggy. But this did not harm the shrimp dumplings from Silver Palace, which had a filling with nice texture (i.e., actual pieces of shrimp rather than a mushy puree) and a gentle and sweet flavor. I’ve never before had dumplings in that standard Chinese restaurant white sauce, and doubt that it’s terribly authentic, but it was a nice match for both the delicate wrapper and the fillings. Really good. I don’t know how to ask for them at the restaurant since I don’t see them on the menu (leave a comment if you know though, okay?).
And I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of them. I was too busy poking my guests with chopsticks so I could just eat them up. And speaking of guests:
And a gratuitous scan of the room while Greg & Chris were geeking out over computers, art and power equipment (plus check out that adorable Kecia at the end):
And then we had ice cream and oranges and we watched Eddie Izzard on YouTube and everyone went home.
Restaurants: China Express, City Market, Pacific Rim, Silver Palace,
Date Visited: March 19
Dumplings Tried: Shrimp Siu Mai, Potstickers, Spicy Sesame Wontons
Dumpling Quest 2010 Official Grades: TBA