Whether you’re suffering boredom on a Saturday night or starvation due to study sessions, the one food that makes all icky feelings go away is dumplings. One restless summer evening, I was stuck in the loop of lounging in front of the air-conditioning and Netflix, when a friend suggested that we get something to eat. Bear does need to get out more, I thought. And so a simple proposition turned into a magical adventure into the land of Vanessa’s Dumpling House, where good food and low prices combine into the quintessential dumpling experience.
Vanessa’s Dumpling House has three locations, two of which are in Manhattan and the remaining one is in Brooklyn. We visited the Chinatown location, on Eldridge Street between Broome and Grand Streets. It’s a short walk from the Grand Street station on the B and D trains, as well as the Delancey Street station on the F train, and the Essex Street station on the J, M, and Z trains.
Vanessa’s Dumpling House is small, but bustling—as you would expect a good dumpling house to be. The establishment is long and narrow and not quite large enough for the crowd that was there. One side has the counter and the kitchen and the other side is lined with tables.
A large menu looms over the ordering counter, but most customers seemed to already know what they want. I asked about the ingredients, and they said no problem, no dairy or peanuts in my food. I couldn’t decide between wonton noodle soup and roast pork noodle soup, but the woman taking my order said no problem, I can combine them and add a can of orange soda for only six dollars! After several posh dinners and overpriced brunches in the past, Bear and I are always happy to save money on a great meal.
It was basically impossible to snag a table on this particular summer weekend night, but it was warm enough to find a closed storefront nearby to eat. People around us seemed unfazed, something that suggests that this happens often. This would be a good time to start carrying around my own collapsible folding chair.
Now that the weather is getting brisker, I don’t know if I would still spend my meal outside, but that hot soup really warms you up fast. The main problem of eating on the sidewalk was that the picture quality was very poor. I assure you, it looked like normal noodle soup. (Note: The conversation during the meal largely focused on the poor food photography of this blog, so we will be making every effort to improve with our limited technology. This post admittedly has the worst photography of recent adventures.)
I had an enormous serving of soup and every bit of it was delicious. The roast pork was not cut into small enough pieces to make the eating of it dainty, but when you’re sitting with a teddy bear and wrestling a plastic container with chopsticks on the sidewalk of Chinatown while your friend laughs on in mockery, eating prettily will not help you very much. The greens were particularly tender, which is crucial to a good noodle soup, especially in contrast to the thick pork and crunchy bean sprouts. The wontons were so freshly cooked that I burnt my tongue on every one of them (it was worth it).
On top of all the deliciousness, Vanessa’s Dumpling House is just a few short blocks away from Babycakes NYC, where a cookie sandwich—the dumpling of desserts—polished off a wonderful meal!
The nights are getting longer and colder as we approach the heart of autumn, a season during which dumplings are increasingly essential as the temperatures drop. As budgets also drop, Vanessa’s is a great place to pick up those crucial dumplings and soup at a wallet-friendly price! All you need to bring is a bear and a chair!