This quaint little Chinese cafe with only twelve tables, the largest of which sits only six people, is lacated at 9889 Bellaire Blvd wedged into a little shopping center of Chinatown surrounded by an Iranian cafe on the left and a bakery on the right. This is place where the dumplings are bountiful and the the entrees authentic(or at least as authentic as we can get here). I got the chance to share this meal with friends and future family. There is only one word that I can really use to describe the experience.... WOW!!
We first started by ordering a round of dumplings. Well, in truth we ordered four different sets of dumplings. The first set to come out were the pork dumplings. Sixteen little nuggets of pork meat encapsulated in a heavy, thick dough like won ton wrapper. These dumplings were quite delicious. The wrapper itself was worth it. If you didn't know any better you would think it felt like uncooked pie dough. But the taste is quite different. It was chewy and delectable and was only the first layer. The pork held in the middle was nice and perfectly seasoned and almost melt in your mouth tender. These dumplings were made for dipping sauce. Oh, and the beauty of the dipping sauce is that you made your own from a combination of red and black vinegars, soy sauce and Vietnamese red chili paste.
We had two other sets of dumplings, that while they were good, they were not exactly noteworthy. No, the Pièce de résistance were the steamed pork buns, otherwise known as "soup dumplings". These culinary innovations are pork dumplings that have been stuffed with pork and a gelatinous form of cold broth so that when it is steamed, the broth melts and leaves you with a dumpling filled with hot soup. There are four to an order and come out steaming hot. I learned ahead of time that the strategy to these is patience. You have to wait until they are no longer steaming to really enjoy them. Otherwise, you get a mouthful of hot soup that scorches your mouth and tongue and pretty much ruins the rest of your meal because you can no longer taste anything. The only real way to eat these delicious morsels is to pop the entire thing in your mouth and chew. And once you do, prepare to be in dumpling heaven. The broth is flavorful and rich. You can almost feel the gelatin in your mouth. The pork was once again perfectly seasoned, moist and appetizing. The wrapper was like the one for the pork dumplings. All the components were good by themselves, but as a whole... The make an astonishing combination.
Next we ordered some typical entrees and some not as typical. On the menu were general Tso's chicken, sweet and sour pork, walnut chicken, kung pao chicken, and two dishes involving wide rice noodles and beef. Now, all the food was good. But the things that stand out the most to me were the two things that are probably most common in your everyday, run of the mill, please the white people Chinese food buffet. The genral Tso's chicken and the sweet and sour pork were superb.
First, let me turn my attention to the sweet and sour pork. This sweet and sour pork was not your typical greasing fried pork nuggets smothered in glow in the dark, fluorescent pink sauce. Oh no, this dish was made with real culinary effort. The pork was slice thin and probably just dusted with flour before fried and then covered in a pungent sauce based on honey. Sweet and sour, yes, but not like anything you've ever had before.
Next is the general Tso's chicken. This chicken was the quintessential definition of juicy moist inside with a crunchy, crispy outside. The sauce was absolute magic. Thick enough to be a sauce, but not so thick it could be considered pudding. It was tangy, spicy, and sweet all at the same time. Each bite was pure delight.
I don't think I have ever enjoyed Chinese food as much as I have before I went to this place. In fact, I must return because I don't know if ordinary Chinese food will do now. If nothing else, the soup dumplings make the trip worth it.