Mostly empty at 11:15 on a Saturday morning, our decision to skip Din Tai Fung and go straight to
Famous Dumpling House immediately paid off.
The menu states in Chinese something like “Hometown wheaten food from Shandong”, and features a few such buns, boiled dumplings, and noodles from the owner family’s home province. They also have cold items and wheaten treats from other places like Sichuan, Shaanxi, and wherever “Cheese Beef buns” originate. The owner (or chef’s?) spouse is Burmese, which explains the tea leaf salad!
Pan fried Shan dong buns are sealed on the top and leavened, soupless, with a big meatball, browned bottom, and crisp lacy skirt. These were best enjoyed after a few minutes cooling, which allowed the layers of texture to be traversed through in one bite. Meatball held together well, and was fragrant and jiggly. The dough wasn’t as fluffy as the bleached white char siu style buns repurposed by some places as “Sheng Jian bao” but were slightly more leavened than the Shandong fried buns buns at Happy Dumpling food stall (I think—- it’s been a while).
The Xiao long Bao had a translucent skin, solid structure, plump meatball, and lots of soup that’s salty and brothy with no detectable sugar. Sloppy looking top knot didn’t detract from anything.
Spice pork noodles : noodles here are made in house, 1 cm wide and thinner varieties, machines cut. I made the mistake of dumpling all the hot sauce on the noodles which killed any intended harmony. Oops. I liked that the noodles were maybe 2 ft. long. I should have gone with their specialty, Shandong bean sauce noodles ( zha jiang mian), made with tianmianjiang vs. Korean doenjiang. Seafood soup with dough drop, which have a spaetzle-like noodle, are more common at northeastern places and also caught my eye.
Fish and pork dumplings (squid ink skin): very mild, good but underseasoned compared to the Napa and cabbage fish dumplings at Great China, or the fish dumplings at Tasty Place.
Pig ear was pretty good. A side of greens, A choy with garlic, weren’t oily but were more cooked than I prefer. Next time, I will get the tea leaf salad