Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dumpling Hunt Part 3

After Focus plaza I head South and West towards Monterey Park. If this is a dumpling hunt there’s one spot I have to hit before it’s all over, Dumpling Master. I can’t really say I’ve been on a dumpling hunt and not visit a place called Dumpling Master.

The trip from Focus Plaza to Monterey Park is a lot easier. I just catch Walnut Grove and head South until I reach Garvey Ave then head West.

When I first started exploring the Chinese food of the SGV, Monterey Park was the first neighborhood I scouted. It’s the first neighborhood you hit traveling East on the 10. Over the years I’ve gotten to know the area pretty well. Atlantic and Garvey are like a crossroads full of great restaurants. Along Atlantic there’s Ocean Star Seafood and NBC Seafood two of the best Dim Sum places in the city, Little Fat Sheep for spicy hot pot, and Shiang Garden for real Hunan cooking (try the preserved duck!). Along Garvey there’s Pearl Restaurant for pancake soup, JJ Café for a crazy mashup of Chinese and Western “coffee house” cooking, and Kim Tar for Southeast Asian inspired Chaozhao food. Just off Garvey going South on Garfield is the justly famous Sichuan Chung King with its brilliant hot-numbing dishes. Head North on Garfield and you find Hua Garden for out of this world Crossing Bridge Noodles. So I’ve eaten my way across a wide swath of Monterey Park.

But until now I’d never sampled the wares at Dumpling Master. Nothing like a blog theme to fill in the gaps. Dumpling Master is located inside the same plaza as the huge Shun Fat supermarket. I decide to take walk around Shun Fat. The first thing that greets you when you walk through the doors is their dried fish market. Now you know you’re in foreign territory. When I was there they were even offering samples of dried fish cake. I took one but refused the others. Not because of the taste which was pleasantly fishy and savory but because I was pretty darn thirsty just then. That’s what I get for heading to the broiling hot valley instead of the beach. I grab a drink inside and look around. Now after touring the markets in Koreatown, Little Tokyo and having a 99 Ranch Market real close to home in Van Nuys, I thought there wasn’t anything in here that was really going to catch my eye. Boy was I wrong. I found a jar labeled “Fish Sauce” that clearly had the fish in it. As you can see from the photo, it’s fish fillets packed in a jar with a little bit of liquid.

Now that’s fish sauce!
Fish sauce

After that I walked over to Dumpling Master. It’s a modest spot. Located at the corner of the plaza.

Dumpling Master Ext

But then you examine the menu and find offerings you’ll see at Panda Express. They offer Sole dumplings, lamb dumplings, and , I couldn’t believe it, venison! I walked in knowing what I was going to order. Alas the Dumpling Master had recently stopped making venison. The staff told me they couldn’t find venison meat that was up to their standards. Sad. Oh well, I have other things to get done so I decide on an order of lamb dumplings to go and head back to Van Nuys.

Sadly, no venison at this time
Dumpling Master Menu

The great things about dumplings is they reheat wonderfully. I take the dumplings and their chili oil dipping sauce back to my place. Later that night they make a hardy dinner.

A nice 4th of July dinner
Lamb Dumplings

You can really taste the lamb in the lamb filling. This isn’t a frenched rack of lamb. This is fatty and gamey and perfect inside a boiled dumpling. Lamb stands up beautifully to hot spice and the chili oil makes a perfect dipping sauce. It’s a terrific end to my dumpling hunt. I just hope the Dumpling Master finds a new source for his venison!

And that brings my dumpling hunt to an end. There’s still plenty more out there in SGV, but unlike a bovine I only have one stomach. But I’ll be back and soon.

Dumpling Master
423 N Atlantic Blvd
Ste 106
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 458-8689

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