There was a line outside the door when I arrived at Luscious Dumplings in San Gabriel. The small shop was located inside a strip mall off of Las Tunas Dr. Outside its doors there were already four groups ahead of me. The waiter handed me an order form and told me it would be 15 to 20 minutes. I waited and mingled with the small crowd. There was pizza parlor completely devoid of customers just next door. But nobody in the group waiting to be seated even gave it a second glance.
I looked over the brief but flavorful menu. It featured familiar items like celery and pork dumplings, stewed pork noodle soup. There were also more adventurous items like beef tendon in hot sour sauce and fried dumplings with chive, pork, egg, and glass noodle filling. I decided on fried pork dumplings. Then I waited for my number to be called.
While I waited I glanced down at the hours of operation sign and saw what accounted for the lines. In addition to having only about 8 tables, Luscious Dumplings was only open for customers a total of 33 hours every week. Tuesday through Saturday it was open from 11AM to 2PM for lunch and then again for dinner from 5PM to 8PM. Sundays it was only open for lunch 11 t o2 and Monday it was closed. If you wandered in looking for a mid afternoon snack or a late dinner, you were out of luck.
Once I got inside the place was bustling and filled with Chinese families and friends out for Saturday lunch.
I sat down to my drink and a small dish of pickled cabbage. It was slightly sweet and had a nice tang.
My dumplings came. These looked like the usually Pot Stickers I’ve had a million times at Dim Sum restaurants. There was one difference. These had some kind of glaze on the fried side, something sweet and sugary that caramelized on the dumplings. The fried side was sticky sweet and a nice surprise. The sweetness was a nice counter to the pickled cabbage or the heat of the chili oil that used as a dipping sauce. The pork filling was juicy. There wasn’t a lot of garlic or ginger covering up the simple pork taste. It was a fine dumpling. The glaze was an added treat though it did cause a few of my dumplings to stick together.
The price for 10 dumplings was $6. It was a good price but there are better deals to be had in the San Gabriel Valley. Mama’s Lu Dumpling House serves 10 Juicy Pork Dumplings (XLB) for $4.99. The 8 monster sized pan fried dumplings at Qing Dao Bread Food are just a dollar more. And $6 can be a feast at Yung Ho Tou Chiang. Still no one was complaining at the busy Luscious Dumplings. I don’t know if the crowds are like that all the time (though I’d love to visit 6 days straight to find out) but if Saturday is any indication, be prepared to wait.
704 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Price Range: $6 for 10 dumplings (or 8 of the “Pork with Soup” XLB) or $6 for a bowl of noodle soup with 5 dumplings.