Today is their opening and, of course, I went. It’s a big, shiny, new, glistening place with bench seating, a window counter and a deep kitchen with a glass partition so you can see in. Looks like the Eldridge St. Vanessa’s Dumpling House would look if it was new, clean, young, and staffed totally by Asian-American 20somethings. Well, a 10 minute walk from home is a lot faster than getting to Sunset Park, Flushing or Manhattan’s C’town. At any rate, since it was advertised on a bunch of popular websites, I figured it would be crowded at 1pm – it wasn’t.
Good thing, as the opening menu is tiny, everything seems pretty much prepared to order (well, probably not the wine poached chicken, but generally speaking) and, although there must’ve been 20 staff, service was slow because they’re mostly on the front of house end as servers and cleaners, while 4-5 did the food. At any rate, nice large communal benches with comfortable folding chairs & very friendly and eager to please goes a long way.
Prices are not C’town (any of the C’towns) but this is not upscale or costly either. $4 for a good portion of vinegar’ed shredded cabbage/carrot salad, $5 for a decent plate of wine poached chicken (on the bone of course, with fresh shredded ginger slices on the side) & $8.50 for 6 soup dumplings. Grand Opening 10% discount was given on the bill, making it nicer. All 3 items were good enough, but they’ll need to improve to get “our crowd”. The dumplings’ broth was kinda thin but the filling was tasty and the dough pretty thin (a good thing… no doughy thick coverings). But, too thin to keep the soup in and one problem this place has (that better be fixed asap) is that they’re giving out plastic Western soup spoons, not Chinese “ladle style” spoons and the liquid has no place to go but onto the cardboard plates they’re using that soak up the liquid. Either put a large hot soup dumpling into your mouth whole (not recommended) or lose the broth. Did I mention they ran out of soup dumplings by 2pm, even without more than a dozen customers in the place at any given time? Oh well. The cabbage salad was fresh, tasty & tangy and the poached chicken was very well done (this is a bland dish, but in a good way – needs the fresh ginger).
They say that the menu will be getting much larger & they certainly have enough kitchen space to handle a big menu. Although this review probably sounds negative, the fact that there is a place like this, serving decent stuff in this neighborhood is a very good thing. I will go back & encourage them & I hope time assists them. One block from the front door of Macys (148 Lawrence St) should help.