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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dumpling House in Philadelphia's Chinatown

UPDATE: Sadly, this place lasted about two and a half minutes... it was rarely open, then closed for good shortly after this report, so no cheap dumplings for Philly. Happily it's bee replaced by Zhi Wei Guan, serving really good Hangzou cuisine, including really good dumplings, so perhaps it's worked out for the best...


I've always thought that Philadelphia's Chinatown had remarkable variety and quality for its relatively small area, but one thing it's been lacking is a place focused on dumplings. But finally Dumpling House has opened on Race Street, between 9th and 10th. It's a great spot for inexpensive boiled and fried dumplings, and more importantly, sesame pancakes stuffed with various fillings.

This crispy disc was about 5 inches in diameter, stuffed in this case with roast pork and pickled vegetables. There are beef versions, vegetable-only versions, and plan unstuffed pancakes as well. The pickled vegetables had a sweet-and-sour tang that balanced the richness of the pork and doughiness of the bread, and contributed a nice crunch as well. The best news: it's only $2.50.

There are several varieties of dumplings, available boiled or fried. We tried the pan-fried chive and pork dumplings, and found them to have pleasingly juicy fillings, and a great texture to the wrappers. The were crisp on one side, still tender on the other, in the style of a classic pot-sticker, a dumpling that's surprisingly rare in Philly. 8 dumplings for $2.50, an excellent value for good dumplings. Are they they greatest dumplings ever? Maybe not, but pretty good...

They have steamed buns as well, but they had run out the day we were there, so we'll have to check up on those another time. There are a couple of soups, and a few other things, but this place is really all about the dumplings, and the sesame pancakes.

I'm really happy to see this, along with a few new customize-your-noodle-soup places joining the mix in Chinatown, providing quick, cheap lunches and snacks. i just wish these places were open late at night!


  1. Anonymous9:16 PM

    Thanks for sharing the great news about scallion pancake sandwiches right here in Philly...should lessen our trips to NYC. Great find!!

  2. Please check it out and let us know how you like it. We've been hearing reports of people trying to go, in the middle of the afternoon, and having the staff wave them off and tell them they're not open! They're still new, maybe they're having some equipment or supply issues.

    I hope it all gets worked-out, because the dumplings, and even more, the sesame pancakes, were really good. Maybe not as cheap as NY, but quicker to get to! Thanks for the comment, and please let us know how you like the place.

  3. We made two attempts this Saturday. Once around 3 p.m. and once around 6 p.m. There was an "open" sign on the door, and the dining area was lit, but what looked like the register/host station was shut down, and the door was locked. Closed Saturdays?

    There was a red sign with a phone number taped to the storefront's wall, but the message was in Chinese, so I have no idea if the sign pertained to the business or not.

    I imagine the holidays are a hard time to open a new restaurant, hope someone can get a sense of its stable hours soon.

  4. Yeah, I tried a return visit this past Saturday too, about 11:15, and the door was open, the sign said "open" and there were some workers sitting at the tables. They told me they were "closed today." I asked when they would be open, and they laughed bitterly and said "maybe today..." But I looked again later in the afternoon and found it dark.

    I have no idea if it's a problem with supplies, staffing, equipment, licenses, something else... I just hope they get it fixed soon! I really want another sesame pancake!

  5. Update from saturday 12/08/07: a friend reported that the Dumpling House IS open! Let's hope it's for good now!

  6. Sunday 12/09/07

    Success! They were open and even served us. Tragically, no sesame pancakes. "Maybe tomorrow" they said....