The next stop on my Dumpling Hunt I owe to Chowhound Chandavkl who said that this place had the best sole dumplings in LA.
Qing Dao Bread Food is inside a strip mall on Garfield Avenue in Monterey Park. But don’t expect to find parking. The courtyard style mall is home to several busy eateries. Fortunately I found street parking within short walking distance. Qing Dao has a very modest storefront.
Inside it is even simpler, just a narrow strip of floor space running from the door to the back with the kitchen and bakery case dominating the rest of the shop. An electric fan was set up to provide air circulation but I didn’t find it stuffy or hot inside which was surprising. Nearly every one of the tables was occupied and the kitchen was bringing out tray after tray of steaming dumplings. You’d think this place would be a sweatbox in the middle of winter.
Along the wall were large pictures of the food offered. I zeroed in on the boiled fish and leek dumplings and the pork and shrimp pan fried dumplings.
First came the fish dumplings. They were 12 of them fresh out of the pot judging by the cloud of steam that hung over them. They came with a small saucer of sauce with at least two cloves of freshly crushed garlic. The dumpling skins were thick but soft and not too chewy. They had the right amount of filling so you got the right amount of fish to noodle. The filling was no delicate French style fish mousse. The filling was firm, hearty and speckled with green scallions and not overly fishy. Dipped in the garlic sauce and a little vinegar really added to them.
Next came the pan fried dumplings. I order potstickers every time I go out for dim sum, so I was expecting the same here. The first thing I noticed was that these dumplings were much bigger. I got 8 with my order they were enough to easily feed 2 or 3 people. They were at least twice the size of the largest potstickers I’d ever ordered. They were puffed up white pillows on one side and golden brown and crispy on the other. I bit into the first one and seared the roof of my mouth (with only a glass of hot tea to drink!) Inside medley of ground pork and big pieces of whole shrimp. The wrappers were very thick. On the pan fried side where they were seared the dough was cooked through and slightly risen. It was bread, like a bao or a pancake. The tops were they had steamed were like a thick noodle or Western style boiled dumpling. It was a great mix of textures and the stuffing inside was savory and lip smacking good.
I tried a variety of dipping sauces. I mixed some of the chili oil with soy to create a tongue burning dip. That was a little too much. It got in the way of the great texture and flavor of the dumpling. I tried the vinegar which was better. Eventually I settled on a little bit of soy or nothing at all.
Both orders cost $6.95 each. Given the amount of food it was a bargain. Both orders could have easily have been split among friends.
With apologies to Chandavkl, I enjoyed the fish dumplings but the pan fried ones were what really grabbed my attention.
Qing Dao Bread Food
301 N Garfield Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Price Range: $6.95 per dumpling order