This dumpling thing is really getting a little out of control but I'm not working now anyway so it's fun to have a hobby. I just have to make sure I don't turn into one!
Yesterday I met up with my friend Robyn on the very Lower East Side to check out Prosperity Dumpling. It was listed on NYMag's Cheap Eats and I wanted to see how good it could be for $1.00.
I got a little lost coming off the B train at Grand and finally got my bearings. It was freezing out and I trudged over to Eldridge Street amidst the chaos of Grand Street, full of fish markets, pungent and shiny with gleaming fresh fish, wriggling lobsters and dancing crabs. Eventually I found the little yellow brimmed storefront at 46 Eldridge and pushed my way in.
There were three pre-teen Asian American kids in there, goofing around and eating soup and dumplings. It was about 3pm and I was pretty hungry so I got the Pork and Chive Pan Fried Dumplings, 5 for a $1.oo and the Pork Dumpling Soup for a $1 while I waited for Robyn. She got lost too and I ordered her the Steamed Vegetable Dumplings while I dove into the pork dumplings. They were a bit disappointing... The texture was great but the taste was lacking, the pork tasted of old freezer burn and mothballs and I wound up burping them up until late in the evening as a gross reminder. The soup was better, the dumplings in there were plump and tasty and the broth was accented by ribbons of green seaweed.
Robyn's Vegetable Dumplings were the best choice, full of green vegetables and carrots, they were delicious and even though they scalded her mouth, she grinned all the way through the pain!
By the time she got there, the place was full of pint sized kids, snacking on dumplings, chattering and teasing each other in Chinese and English. At one point a delivery came in bearing oil and supplies for more dumplings and more cold air and I laughed trying to figure out how it was going to get through the crowd and I had to hold my stool up to let it in the kitchen, after which we quickly high tailed it out of there.
Up the street at 69A, we found a much quieter, warmer dumpling environment run by a sweet little woman who didn't speak much English but took our order through sign language and menu pointing. We liked her cloth sleeve protectors, I'd like something like that while working but couldn't figure out how to ask where she got them.
I got some more Pork and Chive Dumplings for the sake of comparison and Robyn got more Vegetable Dumplings. The Pork and Chive were much better here, still 5 for a $1 but Robyn didn't like the doughiness of her Vegetable dumplings, 6 for $2.50, they were filled with rice noodles and mushrooms, which she's not a big fan of. We also shared a scallion pancake, which was a little greasy and not very tasty but somehow satisfying anyway. It was light and flakey and not too heavy once we soaked up the grease with a napkin.
There were several ladies in the back, making pan sheets full of dumplings by scooping out the ingredients with a knife from plates piled high with a mountain of ground pork and vegetables and then pressing them onto half of a dough circle and sealing them with their fingers into plump packages. I wanted to take a photo but didn’t want to freak them out so we moved on.
We wound up going in and out of shops like visitors in a foreign country, it was fun to see the toys and kitchen supplies and try to figure out what certain mysterious objects were used for. My feet were freezing and all I wanted was a warm place to sit and defrost but it wasn’t forthcoming. We found ourselves in a bakery, drawn in by a beatific guy grinning from ear to ear, chomping down an Asian version of a glazed donut and talking about NY and the Art scene and trying to figure out what he was on because he seemed a little too far out of orbit for a sober person. Eventually we parted ways, she had to go give a massage and I had to get home to defrost my feet and take a nap from all the dumplings!