I’ve ordered takeout from Special Noodle twice now within the past 3 weeks. For those of us who live near Richmond, there hasn’t been anywhere close by for snowflake pan friend dumplings and sheng jian baos. Prior to Special Noodle, I’ve gotten my SJB fix at Pan Fried Dumplings in Newark and I-Shanghai in Fremont.
If you eat in, you check yourself using a tablet where it was unclear if you’re ordering food at the same time, and then you go find an open table and seat yourself. There are seats both inside the restaurant in outside in a little parklet area that is in the corridor across from the 99 Ranch entrance. When I was there, all the tables were full and the hosts were instructing people to sign in on a paper wait list before checking in with the tablet.
Although you can schedule a time to pick up your food, assume that you’ll get it as soon as they can cook it. I should have known better since they haven’t been open that long, so there are understandably kinks to be worked out. The first time I used their website to order, I scheduled the order 2 hours in advance because I was doing some errands in that area, but my order was ready in 25 minutes - this was during a busy weekend service, too. For that order, I went big and got SJB, spicy mushroom chicken snowflake dumplings, red oil pork wontons (predominant flavor was Sichuan peppercorns), and dan dan noodles. Obviously, the texture of the noodles and the SJB suffered. However, the flavor of the SJB was good - less sweet than other version I’ve enjoyed which I prefer. The wontons and dan dan noodles were decent versions, but nothing I’d order again. I’ll need to give their noodles a second chance because some of the issues I had with them was due to them sitting out there for so long. They soaked up too much sauce, and that is what I attributed to them being too salty. Maybe they still would have been too salty for me? I have a salt tooth vs a sweet tooth and it is rare that I think something is too salty.
Today’s lunchtime order was a repeat of the spicy mushroom chicken snowflake dumplings and SJB. The filling for the chicken dumplings is slightly spicy, full of umami, and there are larger slices of shiitake mushrooms in there and bamboo for texture. I should have tried a different dumpling filling, but they are so good it was hard for me to deviate. The SJB this time around weren’t as browned as the ones I had the first time but the bun was formed better (no large bubbles on the outside) and they had a generous amount of soup in them. The pictures are from today’s order.
If you don’t get intense dumplings cravings like me, wait a bit before heading over because I’m sure the inconsistencies will get worked out. Still, I am so happy this place exists, and by how busy they are, I am not the only one.