New Dumpling [El Cerrito]

I stopped by New Dumpling recently. They still have a Soft Opening sign on their door, and a sign that reminds you they are a small family business and as such might be a bit slow. That was not the case at my 8:15 pm stop-by and I was lucky to get a parking spot right out front and see an empty table–yelp has reported crowds recently.
Sarah Han’s review was spot-on. The chive with pork and shrimp dumplings were thin skinned and tender, with a filling that is looser than ususal. At first I was tempted to call them underseasoned, but eating through the entire plate I was happy they were not overly salty or MSGed.
The scallion pancake was the real winner for me. If you don’t mind a bit of oiliness and love flakiness this is the pancake for you.
I don’t that I’d recommend traveling great distances to make a pilgrimage, but I know I’ll be back.

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I’ve been there a couple of times, and I agree that it’s pretty good, but not worth a special trip. The flavors are subtle, and portions are generous. I also liked the pork/shrimp dumplings, and the chicken/mushroom ones.

I went here on a Thursday at 1 PM. There was a slight wait for a table, and there were still people waiting when I left an hour later. It was raining that afternoon, so everyone waiting was inside, which was awkward because there isn’t anywhere for them to stand without being in the way. I suspect that people wait outside on the patio on nicer days.

The dumplings are rustic - no fancy pleats here and a machine rolls and cuts the dough. I tried the chicken/corn, green chive with shrimp and pork, and tomato/egg dumplings. The chicken/corn dumplings had a lot of white pepper in them and they reminded me egg drop soup with corn. They were the table favorite. The pork dumplings were good, too, but they didn’t stand out. I was hoping that the tomato/egg dumplings would be my favorite because I adore tomato/egg noodles, but they didn’t translate well into a dumpling. Maybe if the tomatoes weren’t watery and falling apart (something I should have considered since the dumplings were boiled), or if they were ripe and tasted more tomato-y, I would have loved them.

For the price, the portions are generous. There were 2 of us and we only got through half of the dumplings. I’m glad I brought a container!

Overall, I’m glad New Dumpling opened up and I’ll venture into some of the non-dumpling items on my next visit.

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Has anyone gone to New Dumpling recently? I was planning on checking it out soon, but a friend beat me to it last week. Based on his report, his main comment was “thick gummy skins”. I don’t know if he went on an off night, but now I’m wondering if it’s worth a trip.

We were there shortly after they opened. My niece lives nearby and goes more regularly. She and her DH love it; we were ‘meh’ about it.

Couple of things emerged from comparing her experiences with ours:

  • At least during the soft opening, they were slammed every day due to the rave review. So the owners didn’t really get to have that “easing-in” period a new restaurant needs. Especially since these two are new to the business anyway.

  • Because they get so busy, the quality/execution fluctuated. Dumplings that were juicy for my niece were dry for us. The carrot/beef and corn/chicken, and the chive/shrimp, were out of balance for us. The carrot beef had weird uneven little chunks of half-raw carrot and very little beef. The corn swamped the chicken and tasted canned. The chives tasted more like green onions and overwhelmed what shrimp were in there. However, my niece said their dumplings (same types) were fine, and since we’ve cooked and eaten together for 40 yrs I usually trust what she says. So your experience may vary.

  • The three condiments sit on every (very small) table: vinegar, soya, and a rather modest chile sauce that barely deserved its designation - are for diners to make their own dip. The trouble is, that makes all the dumplings taste the same. The seasonings on our meal were not strong at all; in fact we thought they were all quite bland. We also tried the pork/cabbage and mushroom/chicken dumplings - same “meh”.

  • Portions were VERY generous. Every order is 14 dumplings! Hopefully they have wised up and are allowing half-orders now. In such a small place, it’s hard to get thru even their limited menu with such quantities.

  • Green Onion Pancake. This was the winner. Top quality and correct execution made this delectable. Absolutely 5-star.

  • We are not fond of 5-spice. Note the beef soup is redolent of it. I could smell the 5-spice from a bowl that was 6’ away from me, as if it were right in front of my face. It is REALLY strong. That’s fine if you like/love 5-spice; I’m just putting this as an FYI because few reviewers seem to mention it.

It is a nice little place, but definitely, positively, NOT a destination restaurant. Go only if you’re in the area, and if you’re by yourself that’s one plate only if they’re still doing 14 dumplings/order.

Clean but tiny, and we have to say we have never seen such small tables. They are miniscule, more like cafe tables. There is only green tea; no coffee, and the only black tea is a weak tea bag.

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