|Lady making dumplings!|
What? Dumpling King for dinner
Where? 3290 Midland ave, Unit 2 (take the 39 Finch east / 199 Finch express. 5 min walk north of midland & finch or take the 57 Midland bus for one stop)
Price? $40 (dinner for 5, 6 items)
The skinny: With the reputation of "2nd best dumplings in Toronto" as ranked by blogTO in 2010, no doubt my interests were peaked when I found out that it’s rather close to me. I have yet to make my way down to Chinatown to Mother’s Dumplings but second best isn’t bad at all! Located in a strip mall off Midland & Finch (the one with the mini water fountain), it was hard to find this restaurant but it worked out in the end.
|Storefront. (Open 7 days a week 11am-11pm)|
Reading reviews online I knew we had to try the “scallion pancake” or “chong yao bang” (蔥油餅), some sort of steamed dumplings (after all, they’re called “Dumpling King” for a reason haha) and pot stickers.
Dumplings are essentially balls of dough that are cooked by frying, steaming, boiling, baking. Chinese dumplings filled with meat, vegetable, or seafood fillings and are primarily steamed but are also pan fried as well.
|Neat looking menu!|
I went with my parents and a couple family friends. After reviewing the menu for a few minutes…and of course going back and forth on who should choose what to order (we can be so polite at restaurants to the point where we can be mildly rude) <-- How does this work? Think the usual fighting over the bill but there can be the slight push or the old “I’m going to the washroom brb” trick just so they can be the one to pay. Odd? Yeah, sometimes.
Back to dumplings! I go off on tangents way too much…..it’s probably unhealthy.
We ordered 6 items in total.
Sautéed Baby Bak Choi with Mushrooms ($9.99)
Sounds great in theory—I love my baby bak choi (they soak up all the sauce & flavour, plus they’re always so nice & crunchy!!) and you can never go wrong with mushrooms.
Wrong. There was a nice mix of shiitake and straw mushrooms. The sauce was too salty and really messed with the freshness that should be these legumes/fungi. Also, for the price we got a rather small plate.
Scallion Pancakes ($2.29)
On the menu, it’s listed as “Pan Fried Pancakes with Green Onions”. This was a winner in a big way! It wasn’t grossly oily.
The outside was crispy that gives way to a satisfying crunch when you bite down. The inside was soft and you can see the layers of dough and chopped scallions. It came fresh and was piping hot so be careful and let it rest a bit before you attack it.
Also, the shape of the actual pancake is different from the normal flat, circular pancake but I like this version a lot. This shape means more crunchiness :D:D
Preserved Cabbage & Pork Noodle Soup ($5.99)
I think the noodle is freshly made on-site but I can’t say for sure. We originally thought this dish would have noodles that are made almost like Spaetzel where you cut the batter into boiling water…but this wasn’t it. Oh well, no biggie!
The noodles themselves were chewy and really enjoyable. The broth and preserved cabbage, nothing overly special. Would’ve preferred a different noodle soup.
|The preserved cabbage & pork noodle soup. "Soup" was more like a thinned-out sauce.|
Siu Long Bao (小籠包) or Shanghai Dumplings ($4.59)
These are listed as “Steamed Mini Pork Dumplings”. The interesting thing about this kind of dumpling is that there’s broth encased in the dumpling and gives it more flavour and a little surprised when you bite into them.
Usually, there’s so much soup that it’ll burst out when the skin is pierced. These dumplings didn’t have much soup in them but the filling was nicely seasoned. There were 6.
|(the soup on the plate is from the Pork Pot Sticker, not the Siu Long Bao)|
Steamed Bak Choi Dumplings ($5.99)
We got a sort of vegetarian dumpling for my dad to enjoy. I think I was most impressed by these. Really wasn’t expecting much flavour from these but it was at the same time fresh & light, but really flavourful! I like how the dumpling skin has a slight green hue—gonna guess that some puréed bak choi went into the dough. There were 8.
Pan Fried Cabbage & Pork Pot Stickers ($4.49)
Pot stickers are dumplings that have been pan fried in a little bit of oil. I was surprised by how much soup was in these compared to the siu long bao!
Crispy bottom since they were pan fried and the filling was very tasty. Also, they were pretty sizeable, I’d say a little bigger than an iPhone in length lol. As you can see, there were 4.
This entire establishment employs Mandarin Chinese. I don’t speak mandarin and my comprehension is limited to simple phrases…it’s so bad that I’ve mastered the phrase “Sorry, I don’t understand” (“dway boo chee, wo bu dong”).
Lucky for me, my mom’s fluent and when I saw the lady who makes the dumplings working away at the back of the restaurant (outside of the kitchen though), I half-begged my mom to ask her if I can take photos. YAY!!!! <-- she said that it was ok!
|Filling a circle of dough with a pork based filling.|
As I was standing in awe and snapping away, my mom and her conversed. She’s been working at Dumpling King since it opened over a decade ago.
|(left), little cards to help identify the dumplings after they've been made. (right), tub of filling!|
She’s pretty amazing and efficient! I mean of course she would be, but still it’s was really fascinating. Watching her work with such precision puts me to shame! Trying to make dumplings with my mom…let’s just say for me it has always been more of a bonding experience than culinary magic.
|She's working TWO balls of dough at once!! (bottom left) Caught her mid-toss..thought that was kinda cool...|
|For 6 people, not bad at all! But then again, we weren't full to the max...|
|Just thought I'd share the sunset that I saw that evening with you guys! :D gaah! so pretty!|
Verdict: The dumplings are fresh, hand-made individually, and “homey” but the price was a little hard to swallow at times…great experience. I’d come back for the scallion pancakes and to try other kinds of dumplings!
Check ‘em out! Dumpling King
4 out of 5 NOMs