vanessa’s dumpling house
Compared to London’s Chinatown, NYC‘s is pretty amazing. It stretches on for blocks and even in the early hours is already a hive of activity – vendors peddling their wares in carts along the pavement, little old ladies buying veg and fish from the wet market and workers stopping for a quick morning bite. We passed countless cafes and bakeries brimming with people slurping noodles, savouring congee and tucking into steamed buns, before reaching our chosen breakfast destination – Vanessa’s Dumpling House.
The all day menu offers a variety of soups, noodles, stuffed buns and pancakes, but it is their astonishingly cheap dumplings that they’re known for. A plate of fried pork and chive dumplings boasted tasty fillings and soft, slightly chewy skins perfectly crisped to golden on the bottom – an absolute bargain at $1 for 4.
Slightly dearer were the Wontons with Spicy Sauce – still a steal at $4 for 8. The wontons were generously stuffed with a juicy shrimp and pork stuffing and the silky slithery folds of the wrapper soaked up the lovely chilli oil that was well-seasoned, with just the right amount of spice.
Soft billowy Boiled Pork and Cabbage Dumplings ($2.50 for 8) which we doused with lashings of the black vinegar dipping sauce were also satisfying, with well-made elastic skins, albeit not as tasty.
The sesame pancake sandwiches seemed pretty popular with the shops regulars, so we tried one with roast beef ($2.25). The meat turned out to be boiled beef shin, sliced thickly and paired with pickled carrots and coriander in the slightly greasy seeded focaccia-like bread. A nice little snack.
Appetite sated, we walked back towards our hotel via Grand Street, stopping near Elizabeth to buy a tub of steaming dau fu fa (traditional silken beancurd dessert) from a street-side tofu stall for the perfect sweet ending.
Vanessa’s Dumpling House
118 Eldridge Street
(between Grand & Broome St)
New York, NY 10002