Sherman's Food Adventures: Mama's Dumplings

Mama's Dumplings

This visit to Mama's Dumplings was supposed to happen like half-a-year ago.  You see, I was scheduled to meet up with Nora, Lesley and Joyce for our monthly eat-up there.  However, due to accidents on both the Knight Street Bridge and Oak Street Bridge, traffic was at a standstill.  So after waiting for an hour and barely moving a few blocks, I gave up and turned around.  Since then, I've tried to make it out there, but really, it is located just South of Ironwood Plaza on Steveston...  Yep, not the closest spot to where I live.  But I made it a point to get out there at last with Uncle Willy for lunch.

As mentioned, this place resides amongst warehouses and other businesses offering a unique lunch option.  They also serve coffee and other beverages where we tried the Americano, Matcha Latte and London Fog.  I'm not coffee expert, but Uncle Willy remarked that it was decent where he could drink it without the aid of sugar nor cream as it was smooth enough.  The matcha and London fog were flavourful, but overly sweet.  Okay, let's cut to the chase by talking about the Xiao Long Bao.  These little suckers were pretty legit.  Being Nanxiang-style, these featured a thin dumpling skin that was tender with a touch of chew.  Inside, there was a considerable amount of sweet soup.  I found the meat to be moist but a bit overly loose.  In the end, these were very good.

We found the Boiled Pork and Cabbage Dumplings to be excellent as well.  These featured a medium-thick dumpling skin that had a good elasticity while being soft and delicate at the same time.  Now that was find and dandy, but the best part was the filling as it had more meat than cabbage.  It was juicy and moist with plenty of seasoning that was a good balance between salty and sweet.  Although the Mouth-Watering Chicken wasn't exactly an authentic version, it was still pretty tasty in its own right.  It was a fairly large portion of tender and moist chicken with gelatinzed skin.  More akin to hot bean paste, the sauce didn't have the classic Szechuan numbing spice, but it was flavourful.  The flavour profile was more salty chili pepper than anything else.

The next 2 dishes were complete duds in our opinion.  Looking like it was more like a soup noodle than Dan Dan Mein was not very good.  The peanutty "broth" was practically devoid of impact as it was only aromatic without spice nor salt.  I actually felt like grabbing the soy sauce and pouring it in (the horror!).  Furthermore, the noodles were overly soft and mushy.  This has to be one of the worst I've had in the GVRD.  So let's take this and put essentially the same flavours into the Wontons in Spicy Chili Oil shall we?  Well, you can guess how bland the dish was right?  I have to say they need to take spicy out of the menu description because this was essentially peanut sauce.  With this being said, the wontons themselves weren't bad.  They were packed with a semi-dense pork filling which was bouncy and flavourful.

We got back on track with the Fried Pork Belly that really should've been called Double-Cooked Pork Belly.  Whatever the name, it was executed properly with big slices of pork belly that was tender with an exterior sear.  It was stir-fried with crunchy cabbage and peppers.  The dish was on the saltier side, but best eaten with rice anyways.  I found the spice level to be medium where it was apparent without being too excessive.  Personally, I could take it spicier.   To provide some balance, we got the Seasonal Vegetable with Garlic.  It turned out to be Shanghai bak choy and honestly if I had known, I would've stuck with the broccoli or green beans instead for the same price.  If we focus on the execution, it was done right with very little moisture at the bottom of the plate.  Lots of wok heat where the bak choy was cooked through while still being crunchy.

Unlike the dan dan mein, the Stewed Beef Noodles were appreciably better.  The broth itself was fairly meaty with a good cloudiness that provided depth.  It was sweet and mild.  On top the stewed beef appeared to be the beef finger meat (or the meat in between beef ribs) which was tender and buttery.  They were well-seasoned by the braising liquid.  Nestled within the soup, the white noodles were not al dente, but not as soggy as the one in the dan dan mein.  To get something from each section, we got the Fried Rice with chicken and egg.  I asked if there was green onion and they said no, but yah the rice had green onions...  Other than that, the dish was done right with chewy discernible grains of rice that was fully caramelized and nutty.  There was enough seasoning while the veggies were not overdone.  I wish there was more chicken though.

We ended up getting a few cold appies in the Cucumber Salad and the Black Fungus (Wood Ear Mushroom) Salad.  We liked how they were large in portion size and that they were noticeably spicy.  In terms of texture, both were crunchy with enough moisture without making it wet.  We did think that the cucumber was lacking inherent impact as beyond the sauce on the outside, it was pretty bland.  One of the other more popular dishes at Mama's is the Shanghai-Style Fried Pork Bun.  By appearances alone, this was a winner with a significantly crisped up and brown bottom.  We did enjoy the moist juicy filling, but the bun itself was rather chewy and somewhat dense.  Not a bad version by any means, but not as good as the XLBs.  So this brings up my main point about Mama's Dumplings - that the XLBs are probably the best thing going for them.  Otherwise, I wasn't exactly wowed by anything else.  I would return for the XLBs, but that's about it.

The Good:
- XLBs are solid
- It's go that weird location thing going for them
- Good portion sizes

The Bad:
- Other than the XLBs and some of their dumplings, the other dishes are very hit and miss

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