I headed back East to Monterey Park for some more dumplings. I’d heard of a place that served excellent soup dumplings. Having already gorged myself on the soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung, I wanted to see how these stack up.
The place is called Mama's Lu Dumpling House and it’s located off Garvey Ave. Garvey is the main drag of Monterey Park and it is crammed to the gills with some of the best Chinese restaurants to be found anywhere. I was quite sure where it was but found it just a short distance East of Garfield.
It’s a pretty modest when viewed from the sidewalk. And inside it wasn’t crowded when I arrived. There wasn’t anything like the crush of people at Din Tai Fung. That maybe because Mama's Lu doesn’t open their doors until 10:30AM. At that time Din Tai Fung is already in full swing.
I sat down and took a gander at the menu. First thing that caught me was the prices. 10 juicy pork dumplings for $4.99. That was about the same price as a Happy Meal. Din Tai Fung sells 20 dumplings for around $10 so it’s the same per dumpling price of 50 cents. (But don’t go in and ask for just one dumpling like Chris Rock in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.) Still there’s something about a $5 price tag. It just makes you feel as if you’re spending less money.
My dumplings arrived after a 15 minute wait. The first thing I noticed is they were slightly bigger than the ones at Din Tai Fung, a little bit bigger than a golf ball. They also had thicker skins so they held their shape better. It still tasted like just the right amount of noodle. Inside there was more meat filling and a little less rich soup surrounding it.
The dumpling filled up the entire spoon so it was a little hard to take a bite out of it and spill the broth into the spoon. I ended up dipping the dumplings in vinegar then holding them over my spoon with chopsticks while I nibbled a hole in them for the soup to drain out.
As for taste, they were incredible. The meat filling had ginger and garlic. The broth around was seasoned. The vinegar complimented them even better than the ones at Din Tai Fung which were more delicate. These were more robust. Ten pieces was plenty for a hearty lunch.
In this economy I don’t understand why the place isn’t swamped. With their super low prices and excellent quality food, Mama's Lu should be serving a billion people as well.
Mama's Lu Dumpling House
153 E Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755-2954
Price Range: All items under $10, 10 dumplings for $4.99