Sunday, March 18, 2007

Luscious Dumplings Inc. - San Gabriel

Luscious Dumplings Inc. - San Gabriel 1

I believe in judging restaurants at their level. Meaning I expect attentive and pleasant service from a frou-frou upscale restaurant, but I don't expect the waiter to hover over me at a small mom-and-pop eatery. Generally, I'm not that picky as long as the food, water, or whatever comes when I ask. My pocketbook, or lack thereof, keeps me from dining at expensive restaurants, but I'm much happier with good, solid food at reasonable prices. Cleanliness is a given, but a slight hole-in-the-wall vibe is perfectly acceptable if the food makes up for it. So when Chubbypanda, concerned about the recent closing of several mom-and-pop restaurants in his area, tagged me for his meme on "Save Our Faves 2007," I knew exactly which one I wanted to profile.

My favorite mom and pop restaurant has good service, good food, good prices, and good, well, cleaniness? Work with me people, I was trying to keep up with the good, good, good, good theme. Did I mention I think it's really good? :P A month ago I had teased about my favorite dumpling house in Southern California.

Luscious dumplings.

Say that out loud.

Really.

Do it.

Again.

Merely saying it is enough to make you salivate isn't it? Imagine plump morsels of seductively, sexy, juicy, deliciousness. And yes, they get mondo bonus points from me for such a clever name. :)

Luscious Dumplings Inc. is in a small strip mall in San Gabriel at the intersection of Las Tunas and Mission Drives. It shares the same parking lot as the newest branch of Phoenix Food Boutique. It is sandwiched between a Vietnamese cafe with blacked out windows that always seemed empty during the day (and I have no desire to see what occurs at night) and a pizza shop that features cheap carry-out specials and an intriguing $4.99 lula kabob combo plate. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for dinner. The dumplings are made fresh before each seating. I recommend arriving during the first hour because if they run out of dumplings, you'll be greeted with a closed sign. The restaurant has only about a half a dozen tables. They push tables together for small groups, but this is not a place to go if you have a large party. On weekdays there generally isn't a problem getting a table, but go on weekends and you'll find the sight pictured below.



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If you're waiting outside, you'll be given the complete half-page menu. The all-Chinese language combos are half-orders of various dumplings and the soups. But being the pig I am, I've always managed to finish whole orders of both dumplings and soup.

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After you're seated, you'll be given a glass of water or tea in a styrofoam cup and a small dish of pressed tofu, celery, and boiled peanuts in a spicy chili and vinegar brine.

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Aren't these the most adorable soy sauce and vinegar bottles ever?

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Pour a little of both into your empty dipping saucer, along with some dried chili in oil. You can also request fresh chili and mustard if you wish. We ordered the shredded Sichuan pickle and pork noodles. I love the slight sourness of the pickles with the smoothness of the noodles. This is the smaller $4 bowl but was perfect for sharing amongst four people. We were saving room in our bellies for the dumplings. My cousin also really likes the stewed beef, which is a dark, braised beef.

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First out was cabbage, pork, and shrimp steamed dumplings. An order of 10 is $6. They're a little lumpy, a little misshapen. Almost as if I made them at home. No perfectly fluted sides here. You can tell where the chef has pressed the edges together. That homey touch only serves to make these plump and luscious dumplings that much more special to me. Their imperfection lets me know they didn't come mass-produced. Just the sweet mom and pop in the back, who sometimes venture out during busy times to deliver a plate of dumplings to the tables.

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Luscious Dumplings Inc. - San Gabriel 8

A small dish of ginger accompanies...

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Xiao long bao, or xlb, to my group of food bloggers who are all in search of the perfect Shanghai-style soup dumplings. An order of 8, as opposed to 10 for all other dumplings, is $5.50. These dumplings have a thinner dough than the other dumplings, are actually folded with some care for presentation, and are flooded with juicy broth. They're not the best rendition as I think the skins are too doughy, but they're still tasty nonetheless.

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The "soup" comes from adding in cubes of congealed fat inside the dumplings so that they melt into a broth when steamed. Each dumpling rests on a small piece of napa cabbage to prevent it from sticking to the steamer. When removing the soup dumplings from the steamer, slide your spoon gently under the cabbage leaf so it doesn't break apart. Get your chopstick anywhere near it and one accidental poke will result in all the juicy goodness draining out.

One method of eating is to take a small bite, suck all the juice out, and then eat the dumpling. Luscious Dumpling Inc.'s xiao long bao have so much soup that that method merely results in juice dribbling down my chin and onto my shirt. I've found it best to add a sliver of ginger on top and to savor the whole dumpling in one mouthful. I poked a hole in the dumpling so you could see the juice but it overfilled the spoon and dribbled onto my bowl. Now if one of your measurements of good xiao long bao is lots of flavorful broth, you'll get plenty here.

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But oh, this, just looking at the crisp pan-fried perfection of the napa, pork, and sole fried dumplings is enough for you to know why this is my very favorite. 10 dumplings is $5.50.

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You can tell how large and substantial they are when half of the dumpling is the size of my spoon. Pan-frying makes them extra hot (temperature not spicy hot), but I can't wait for it to cool down before I bite into its chewy, crispy, juicy goodness.

Good service, good food, very reasonably priced, very clean. Is it any wonder I think Luscious Dumplings Inc. is good, good, good, good? So if you're in the area, go try Luscious Dumplings Inc. and let me know what you think.

And to keep this meme going along so you can highlight your favorite mom-and-pop restaurant, grocery store, or other food place, I'm tagging:

1. Tigerfish of Teczcape
2. Melting Wok
3. Henry Chan of Henry Chan's Food Videos
4. Yich of Sim Cooks
5. Budding Cook

So tag, you're it! Let us know about your favorite food gem, and tag 5 others so we can all share in the goodness. Read Chubbypanda's rules for the "Save Our Faves 2007" meme.

On a later visit, cousin Q and I got the braised beef noodle soup and shrimp and pork dumpling combo for $6.

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Luscious Dumplings Inc. - San Gabriel 15

And of course, no visit is complete without an order of potstickers.

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Henry Chan's Food Videos became a fan after I took him here. UnHipLA never understood what all the fuss was about dumplings until I took her here. Now she says dumplings = love.

You can also view more Luscious Dumpling pictures on Biggest Menu.

Also on Main St./Las Tunas Dr.:
Aji Man Japanese Restaurant - San Gabriel
Golden Deli Vietnamese Restaurant - San Gabriel
Pho Super Bowl Vietnamese Cuisine - Alhambra
Vietnam House Restaurant - San Gabriel
Vietnam Restaurant - San Gabriel
Vietnam Restaurant (Bo 7 Mon (7 Courses of Beef)) - San Gabriel

Luscious Dumplings Inc.
704 W. Las Tunas Dr., #E4
San Gabriel, CA 91776
626-282-8695
Lunch 11 a.m–2 p.m., Dinner 5–8 p.m.
Closed Mondays, lunch service only on Sundays.
Cash only.

26 comments:

  1. You write very well. I admire. :)

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  2. Hey WC - Been here a few times, but not in a while...I remember it was pretty good! It looks like prices have gone up a bit since our last visit. Thanks for the reminder.

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  3. I have never been to this place, but I love the dumplings at Mission 10053 at El Monte. Have you tried?

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  4. Sounds very promising, I'll definitely have to check it out next time I'm in the area!

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  5. Xiao long bao is one of my favorite foods ever. Everytime I go back to Shanghai, I eat it every day. My cousins are appalled I actually suck the delicious broth out. They say it's too fatty and they dump it. Shocking I know! All that delicious broth... I haven't been able to find any good xiao long bao in Seattle; the frozen stuff is just atrocious.

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  6. BuddyDVD,
    Thanks :)

    Kirk,
    Inflation happens. Still worth it for me.

    RM,
    You mean Dumpling 10053 on Valley? I haven't been but I've heard about it. Do xiao long bao though. :(

    Hi Andy,
    Welcome aboard! Please feel free to come back often and comment. :) And yes, it's definitely worth checking out if you're around there.

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  7. Hi Amy,
    Welcome! Why order xlb if you're not gonna appreciate that broth? And frozen xlb? Eeek!

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  8. oh, how I miss XLB in Toronto. can't seem to find Shanghainese food anywhere in Montreal!

    anyway, here's to dumplings.
    cheers!

    Lindsay.

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  9. Oh, recently, I have so many assignments and homework! I've just completed 2 in a row today. I must rest and eat now :D

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  10. I've been to Dumpling 10053. It's some of the best dumpling / pot stickers I've had here in America! Their beef noodle soup is excellent as well.

    Here are some pictures and a short review

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  11. yum yum i love dumplings. very close to where my mother in law lives i think. :) i'll give it a try.

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  12. Lindsay,
    Welcome! Dumplings are wonderful aren't they? :)

    CP,
    Luscious. Luscious!

    Kev,
    I've had Dumpling 10053 on my list for a while now. Must try soon.

    Budding Cook,
    Hope you and hubbub and MIL like it. :)

    Elmo,
    It's the pan-fried dumpling picture that did the trick right? :)

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  13. WC, all done, check it out !
    My Top 5 Favorite Place To Eat. All not so busy, except for Lucille's BBQ, I hope they survive another year.

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  14. MW,
    There's a Lucille's BBQ in Rancho Cucamonga at Victoria Gardens and it's always packed with a line out the door so you can always go there if the other location doesn't work out so well.

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  15. i enjoyed reading this. you have a friendly way with food!

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  16. Hi Hippity,
    It's fun when I'm writing about my favorite dumpling house! :)

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  17. i so wanted to have lunch here tomorrow (monday) but after consulting your post, i see that LD is closed on mondays. how sad. :( thank you for your helpful posts, you're my food blog of record. :)

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  18. Hippity,
    Aww, sorry lady. I should have called you on Sunday to eat with me. Hehe. I like the sound of that. I'm your food blog of record. :)

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  19. Hey WC,

    I think Kingburg serving up their pan fried buns or potstickers can compete with Luscious in that regard. Kingburg are really known for pan fried buns and beef noodle soup. One thing I can honestly say that in noodles wise, Kingburg got Luscious beat and then some.

    If noodle and pan fried items are your thing, try out Kingburg Kitchen. As in for steamed dumplings, I'll give Luscious a small edge. They are just so 2006 as 2009 have now yielded so many choices for steamed dumplings.

    BTW, weirdest name for a good restaurant?...Tantalizingly Thai in Lakewood. Thai food there is very good, but the name just blew hard. LOL.

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  20. Pepsi Monster,
    It's all about the potstickers for me. Haven't found a place that makes better potstickers than their juicy, crispy, soft and chewy pan-fried dumplings. Besides, I've been eating at Luscious Dumplings for a long time. Several years before 2006. And I always leave happy.

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  21. Gotta take my parents here now!

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  22. Eileen,
    I can't believe you haven't been here yet. I recommend coming no later than one hour after opening, otherwise they might run out of certain dumplings.

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  23. WC,
    Have you ever try DinTaiFung at 1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, California 91007?

    Gary

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  24. Gary,
    I have and think it's over-priced. I should get around to blogging about it. Not that I think DTF is bad, just that it's not really worth my wait and money when I get better food and better portions elsewhere. My preferred Shanghai restaurants with better xiao long bao and better prices are Mei Long Village, J&J, and Dean Sin World.

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