LaSalle Dumpling Room
As all good stories this starts with a fight. My husband and I were fighting over my insistance we go on a date. He was tired from working all day and I was bored and restless and wanted food. So we went. We live approx. 90 mins from Midtown & of course I wanted to go all the way into Chinatown to go to Joe's Shanghai which has the best soup dumplings in NYC (or so I thought). We were both in the beginning stages of hangry & in stand-still traffic, when I decided to plot twist this and yelp somewhere closer (anytime something goes wrong I literally yell out plot twist, I'm a walking cartoon.) We were near 125th and Harlem has everything delish, so I knew we wouldn't be disappointed. LaSalle Dumpling Room has 4 stars on yelp. It was crowded, there was no bar area to wait, but it smelled soooo good. As soon as we opened the door, I knew.
We waited about 15 mins, and got sat at a really small table. It could barely hold all the food but the waitress was really great about clearing away things we didn't need to make room for the feast. We've now been back twice. Here's everything we've eaten.
What we ordered:
Xao Long Bao - pork soup dumplings- These are A+. Some of the best I've ever had. Juicy, super hot, a nice thin skin with a thicker nipple. If you haven't had soup dumplings, get them ASAP. They are beautiful little pouches of meat, broth and dough. Usually handmade, a broth is made, then solidified with gelatin. Once steamed the broth melts and becomes a soup that you slurp up before eating the meat and dough left over. First time eating them? To eat them you scoop one into a soup spoon. I tend to just pick them up and put them on the spoon. Then bite off the top and eat the doughy goodness. A really good dumpling place will have a yummy dough. Then you blow. Blow. Then blow some more. The soup inside is hot. Pour some sauce inside if you like, these are often served with a vinegary ginger sauce. I go unadorned. Slurp up the soup. Slowly. I'm not joking it's really hot. Then once you've sucked up all the soup, eat the dumpling itself. These are an experience and the one's at LaSalle Dumpling Room is worth having.
Dry Sauteed String Beans- OMG. Perfection. At first I thought they might be salty and they are but its the perfect salty. Salty, fresh, with big slivers & chunks of garlic and little brown crispy pieces I swore were anchovies or pork but no. They were actually caramelized crispy onions. I started eating them with my fingers. Just plopping them in my mouth like candy. We got an additional order to go.
Chicken with Broccoli, General Tso's Chicken & Hot & Spicy Chicken. The chicken & broccoli was served in brown sauce and was amazing. Big chunks of broccoli, a yummy gingery oyster sauce, tender chicken. My only complaint was that the broccoli was so large it makes the serving seem larger than it is. We finished this promptly. General Tso's was yummy as well, not too sweet. The hubs finished this dish quickly. The hot & spicy chicken is ehh. It wasn't something I would order again. Good. Solid but not amazingly good. I wouldn't travel for it.
Pork Pan Fried Dumplings- Know how I said the hot & spicy chicken wasn't something I would travel for. I would travel for these. These pork dumplings are just as yummy as regular dumplings but instead they are long and pan seared on one side. They look like baby manicotti. Plus you get 6. Everything is family style and meant to be shared & these dumplings are no exception.
Chicken Dumplings with Spicy Vinaigrette - The chicken dumplings? THE CHICKEN DUMPLINGS? The vinaigrette? THE SPICY VINAIGRETTE? All I can say is we were having trouble deciding when we 1. heard the table behind us talking about the dumplings and 2. we asked the waitress and her face lit up. "You have to get them" So we did. They were so good we split the last dumpling in half using a chopstick then poured the viniagrette into a soy sauce dish to spoon over everything later. Damn. Reading this is making me want them again.
They serve bubble tea and slushies but we've only had the beer Tsingsao. It's the only beer they serve and goes great with all the food. All the mains are served with white rice and yes, they bring out a bowl for each dish.
This place is a great reminder of how great meals & experiences can be found anywhere and anytime, especially when you give yourself permission to yell, plot twist!, and change the plan.
Have you ever found a favorite spot by accident?