Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dumplings I miss... Noodle House (Arcadia)

Back in 2006, Jonathan Gold wrote about Noodle House's fried dumplings. For those of you outside of LA, Jonathan Gold is not just a food critic. He's a divining rod, who leads you to eye-opening food adventures. He bats about .950 with his food recommendations. Zelo Pizza in Arcadia is really the only place I can think of that he loves that I don't understand.

As soon as read about this place, I knew I had to go. PG and I both realized the greatness of Linda's pan fried bao as soon as we tried them. The dumplings arrive at your table in a connected ring. You aim your chopsticks and tear a pillowy dumpling away from its comrades. You dunk the the dumpling into the garlic/chili/scallion accented soy sauce, and then bring it to your mouth. And if pot-stickers are all you've ever known of fried dumplings, you were in for an eye-opening experience. The dumpling dough on this dumpling itself is a soft pillowy casing wrapped around dense rich pork filling. But the thing is, it's been pan fried, and that crisp edge gives it another textural dimension. Against the soy sauce, the airy angelfood-like dough is powerless and collapses into something delicate yet chewy, like moist cake dunked in milk. And then the tender minced pork stabs your tastebuds. And as flavors and textures fight for your attention, just for a moment, you have bliss. Food elevated to something beyond mere fuel, and you're tempted towards hyperbole. You close your eyes, and just try to enjoy what's going on in your mouth as you work your way through that first dumpling. And lo and behold, the 2nd dumpling was just as sublime.

Our last time there, I went with PG and JL. Linda told us they were closing the next week. Sad to hear the news, we began ordering everything we'd always been curious about and never tried. Linda threw up her hands at one point to stop us, and said, "Okay". On our way out, Linda chased after us, refusing to take a tip, and giving us bags of food treats to take home.

Anyway, Dumpling House closed last year, and reopened under the name Kingburg Kitchen, and I think I may just have to go to take a look to see if the dumplings there are anything close to as exceptional as Linda's. -

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