Monday, February 9, 2009

LES Tour - Dumplings

This past Sunday marked an epic chapter in the TONY quest. Joined by a couple friends and blessed with Spring weather in the middle of February, we set out to conquer the Lower East Side in one day. I had received my camera from Amazon and with an empty stomach and a map from Google, we began our walk. Note: Since there were so many places covered on Sunday, I decided to enter each one separately for archiving purposes.

18. Lan Zhou Handmade Noodle Shop
144 E Broadway between Pike and Rutgers

When I think about cheap dumplings, I think about Fried Dumpling, a small place on Allen Street and Delancey that sells 5 fried pork & chive dumplings for $1. Lan Zhou Handmade Noodle is another 10 minutes Southeast and the first thing you see when you enter is a table in the back with a huge pile of dough (hence the “handmade” part). For most of the time we were there, there was a person kneading, massaging, and even pounding on the dough, slamming it into the table. We ordered exactly what was on the list, “dumplings.” Eight boiled dumplings for $2.00. Needless to say, they were not very happy with us that that was all we ordered, but it was going to be a long day and we weren’t ready to fill up on dumplings. When they arrived, they were steaming hot with paper-thin semi-transparent dough, beautifully crescent shaped, where you could see the fingertip marks where they were sealed. Covering them in soy sauce and vinegar, we dug into the first bite of our Sunday journey. They were very good, but I’m not ready to say they’re on the same level as Fried Dumpling and certainly not worth the extra walking. That being said, the place was pretty crowded with people ordering the noodle soups ($4.50) and they looked very good. I am definitely willing to come back for a cheap lunch on a nice day to get some noodles and stop at Fried Dumpling on the way back.

Fried Dumpling
99 Allen Street between Delancey and Broome

After all of the praise I just bestowed upon Fried Dumpling while talking about Lan Zhou, I felt it necessary to comment on this whole-in-the-wall immediately. I will start off by saying that after hitting up a number of spots yesterday on the TONY list, one of my friends insisted that we stop here since the dumplings are just that good. There are probably 6 seats in the entire space with most of their business coming from a large lunch crowd getting it to go. The menu is simple and their specialty is obvious. 5 dumplings for $1 is what I would spend my last buck on. Talk about affordability during hard times. They also serve slices of sesame pancake for $0.50 and pints of hot & sour soup for $1.00 though I haven’t been impressed with either and would rather put the money towards more dumplings. They offer vegetable dumplings also so feel free to bring everyone you know, just don’t count on snagging a table.

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