Art and I are doing some side restaurant consulting work down in Sugarland, and when you think about it, considering the expanse of Houston, Chinatown isn’t that far away. So I did some research on dumplings in Houston’s Chinatown and came up with a list for us to try while we are down there. Every trip down involves a stop at Weikel’s in LaGrange for some kolaches and cinnamon rolls, and the use of their excellent pee facilities. There is a certain satisfaction involved in attacking an overfilled blueberry kolache or a pecan cinnamon roll dripping in sugar glaze with an empty bladder.
So after this recent meeting, we headed east towards the intersection of the Sam Houston Tollway/8 and Bellaire Boulevard, and there on the Northeast corner, just west of the H Mart Asian Grocery, sits an unassuming little joint known as Golden Dumpling House. It looked like we had just missed the Sunday lunch rush, because things were winding down and the staff was taking a break and having a bite to eat. The menu is simple and short, and available in a Chinese and an English version.
After a quick perusal, we settled on what at first seemed like a reasonable order. In the corner is a serve yourself section for table ware, ice water, sauces (mix your own using soy, black vinegar, and chile oil). There is a humongous rice steamer filled with help-yourself rice congee, so we got a couple of small bowls of that thick rice soup to sustain us until the order started arriving. We got some stinkeye from the dude at the next table who looked like he was straight out of central casting for some Chinese triad gang. Apparently we were violating his space a little, but everyone else was cool with a couple of portly roundeyes invading their turf. The staff was very welcoming and friendly.
The Dan Dan noodles came out first, and it was an exemplary serving, with perfectly cooked toothsome noodles, slivers of green onion and cucumber, a garnish of roasted peanut, and a fantastic sauce that tasted like it was based on smooth peanut butter thinned with sesame oil. There was a nice balance twixt peanut and sesame. There were elements of garlic, chile, mala (Sichuan peppercorn), and vinegar to give the sauce some edge. A really good bowl, and a massive portion for $4.25. Dan Dan noodles can be bland as hell, but these were decidedly not.
Next the green onion pancakes arrived (2 at $1.95 each). I have eaten a lot of scallion cakes in my day, and these were an artful version, perhaps the best I’ve had in recent years. They were crisp and flaky, and cooked to a golden brown, with just the right amount of green onion flavor. Grab a quarter and dip it into chile oil, and you have yourself a mouthful of goodness.
Pan Fried Pork and Shrimp Dumplings
Then the dumplings arrived. We got two orders of pan fried potstickers filled with minced well-seasoned pork and shrimp, with little bits of water chestnut and garlic in the juicy filling. The skins are the hand-rolled, thick, handmade style that I love so much, and the bottoms are browned nicely with a steaming glaze in a sizzling skillet. Each potsticker is about 3 to 3 ¼ inches long and about 1 ¼ inch wide. These babies are massive. Unbelievably, 10 of them sells for $5.50. Deal of the century, even if they weren’t as delicious as they are.
Boiled Pork and Leek Dumplings
We also got an order of boiled pork and leek with vegetable dumplings, which are made from the same pasta dough. These get boiled in stock and are roughly ⅔ the size of the potstickers, so they are still huge. Except that you get 18 of them for $5.25. They completely filled the surface of a large platter, and every one tastes better than the one that preceded it. We ate all we could hold, and I really wanted to eat more. Honestly. But we left with a to-go bag that probably weighed five pounds, and the whole meal for 2 was $26. The amazing thing was that we split up the leftovers when we got back to ATX and we ended up with enough for a meal the next day for each of us. The dumplings may have been just as good reheated the next day. Which brings up the issue of the constant flow of Asian ladies coming in and leaving with big to-go bags. Turns out that Golden Dumpling also sells frozen version of their dumplings: 40 of the pork and leek boiled dumplings sell for $8!, and 40 of the potstickers sell for $16!. We will return, and with a big ice chest!
Golden Dumpling House
9896 Bellaire Blvd (Sterling Plaza), Houston, TX 77036
11am-8:30 daily, except closed on MONDAY
mick vann ©