Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ivy's Deli Dim Sum

Ivy's Deli
201 University Oaks Boulevard, STE 1350,
Round Rock, (512) 574-4608

Yesterday we headed north into the hinterlands of Round Rock in search of the elusive xiao long bao soup dumpling (look for the Austin Chronicle feature coming soon, including a sidebar on where to find them). There, behind the Ikea store, in a cluster of shops situated next to the dining deck, kind of out in the middle of everything, sits Ivy’s Deli. I’m still not 100% sure, but it was probably originally at Spicewood Springs and 183, and then it was and then wasn’t a yoga studio with food, and it moved over here to where it has been for the last 9 months. It may or may not have a different menu from the smaller cafe with the same name that may still be close to Asia Café and Chen Z Noodles. It’s confusing. The owner gave ambivalent answers.

Regardless, the charming couple that own Ivy’s Deli is originally from Hong Kong, and ended up in Nicaragua for several years, with three restaurants there, before heading up to the ATX. I went there for soup dumplings, but even more intriguing is fish skin dumpling, a dumpling where the wrapper is fish skin and the filling is fish paste. I’ve had fish noodles and dumplings where the wrapper is made with fish paste in Thailand, but have never eaten dumplings where the wrapper is fish skin. I attempted research on fish skin dumplings and there’s not a lot of info out there, except that they are available in the Bay Area (but what isn’t?). Ivy’s has a fairly large menu of dim sum items, and we settled on four of them.

The owner brought out a little dish of kim chee as an amuse bouche: spicy and not as tart as some versions, but still enjoyable.

We ordered the spicy and sour wontons (D12), which were plump and filled with seasoned pork, with chewy handmade wrappers, sitting in a bowl of a soy-based dipping sauce that had ginger and garlic, a touch of sugar, and rice vinegar.  There was a sesame seed garnish on top, and these little puppies were tasty. We dumped on some of their excellent house made chile oil, which is a thick paste of roasted chiles that are ground up with peanut oil and soy, with whole garlic cloves added to the mix. It has a nice flavor that rises above the piquancy.

The fish skin dumplings (D15) were intriguing. The texture was dense enough to know it wasn’t a thin pastry dough, and the overall package tasted of fresh seafood. I expected a touch of sliminess, which wasn’t present. The tasted great and I would definitely order them again. I’m still curious about these; a few folks reference them on the web but I can find no background info. 

The soup dumplings (D17) were good, but the broth could have been a little richer, and the filling a little more seasoned. A little dab of vinegar dipping sauce (which needed more ginger) and a touch of chile paste and they were a delight. One of three places in ATX that offers them.  

We finished up with Sui Mai Supreme (D02a), which are open top steamed dumplings filled with chunky shrimp, minced pork, and crab, and you could definitely spot the yellowish pieces of crab fat through the thin wrappers. These are fantastic, and the owner pointed out that they are his biggest seller from dim sum menu world. Oddly they didn’t come with a dipping sauce, but we had leftover sauce from our other dumplings.  We came here for soup dumplings, but fell in love with the fish skin dumplings and the size of the whole dim sum menu. We also love that they are available everyday, like they ought to be. Ivy’s Deli you ask? I’ll definitely go back when I’m up that far north.

Mick Vann ©


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