Sherman's Food Adventures: Pan-Fried Dumplings

Pan-Fried Dumplings

In 2017, we took my cousins out to Din Ding Dumpling House and introduced their kiddies to Xiao Long Bao.  Well, apparently, it was such a big hit, they kept requesting for them after we returned to Vancouver (we were back in 2019, but didn't have any dumplings).  Since then, they have discovered a place called Pan-Fried Dumplings out in Newark that boasts some pretty good XLBs.  Now that we are able to travel again, we made the trek back out to the East Bay to visit family.  However, instead of meeting up with them for some XLBs, we met up with Areta (who happened to be vacationing nearby) instead!

Predictably, we over-ordered and ended up with 5 steamers of Xiao Long Bao including the 3 pork, 1 chicken and 1 shrimp.  This is the picture of the pork and really, the chicken and shrimp looked almost exactly like this except a bit lighter in color.  All of them featured a fairly thin dumpling skin that was delicate with some elasticity.  There was plenty of soup that was sweet but the pork XLBs were pretty greasy.  The meat was tender and bouncy though.  I found the chicken to be lighter in texture and also easier on the greasiness.  The shrimp had a sweet briny taste while also being not as greasy.

Of course we had to order the Snow-Flake Pan Fried Fried Dumplings (kinda the restaurant's name) and it came out golden brown with a considerable skirt.  Both the bottom of the dumplings and the skirt were crispy and nutty.  The overall dumpling skin was medium-thick and not dense.  I found the filling inside to be, you guessed it, greasy.  However, using such fatty pork also ensured that the meat was tender and moist.

Continuing on with the dumplings, we also had the Soup Pan Fried Buns (Sang Jeen Bao).  These sported crunchy tops that had been pan fried in a good amount of oil.  The bun itself was light where they kept the dough to a minimum.  Hence these did not eat heavy despite the ample soup inside being, once again, greasy.  Like I said, this is a double-edged sword, because for the meat to be juicy and tender, the fattiest mix is the necessary.

Now the greasiness wasn't exclusive to the dumplings.  I found the Ground Three Delight (featuring eggplant, green and red peppers) to be pretty much coated in oil (lots on the bottom of the plate too).  Beyond that, the dish was good though with plenty of wok hei that gave the dish delicious caramelization.  Texturally, the eggplant was perfect, being cooked through without being mushy.  There was plenty of seasoning that was balanced between sweet and salty.

Even though the Beef Wrap looked appealingly flaky, I wasn't a huge fan of it.  The pancake was thin and not overly heavy, but I found it dry and overly flaky.  I would've preferred it to be chewier.  The sliced beef shank inside was tender and flavourful, but that was partly negated by the lettuce.  I know there are versions that have lettuce, yet I'm not a big fan.  It takes away from the beef and the hoisin sauce in my opinion.

I did enjoy the Spicy Red Oil Wontons though as there was a good amount of spiciness that was balanced.  What I mean is that I could taste the savoriness of the pork filling while also the nuttiness of the oil in addition to the spice.  It wasn't one-note.  Furthermore, the wontons themselves were pretty good since they were cooked just right with a tender wrapper with juicy (and surprisingly less greasy, but they were sitting in oil...) pork filling.

Now onto the noodle portion of our meal, we first got served the Tomato Beef Noodle Soup.  I wasn't a really big fan of this as the broth was a bit bland and lacking depth.  I have to give it to them that I could taste tomato though.  I also wasn't too fond of the thick noodles as they reminded me of udon.  We should have chosen the regular noodles instead.  As for the beef, it was okay as it was tender and fairly moist.  

One noodle that I really enjoyed was the Pork Dan Dan Noodles.  Now it didn't look anything close to the picture in the online menu (as there is a brothy sauce).  This was served dry with only the minced meat topping and veggies.  However, when mixed together, the spicy and numbing flavors were super tasty and impactful.  Due to the lack of moisture, the noodles remained al dente and the flavors were more concentrated.

Now the Old Peking Minced Noodles were not as impactful, yet they aren't supposed to be either.  This was more for the kiddies, but it wasn't super popular either.  Not that there was anything particularly wrong with it.  Once again, the noodles were al dente and there was just enough sauce to coat them.  I found the sauce to be not as salty as I would've liked, but there was still flavor.  Maybe there was just a tad too many veggies that watered it down.  Would've just liked the cucumber rather than also including carrots and sprouts.  In the end, the thing we enjoyed the most was the Xiao Long Bao.  Other items were hit and miss.  Prices were on the higher side but portions were generous.  Prepare yourself for some oily lips as things are really greasy here.

The Good:
- Excellent XLBs
- Large portions
- Other dumplings are good too

The Bad:
- Very greasy
- Dishes are hit and miss


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