A Proper +/- of the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck
After a few days down on Wall Street, the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck is back in Midtown today- parked on 52nd and Lexington Ave. Ever since it was announced that the Rickshaw Dumpling Bar (which has two brick and mortar locations in the lower of half of Manhattan) would be opening a truck, there has been a lot of criticism in the comments. And a lot of it is is warranted. The place is freakin’ expensive. And it’s fancy pants Asian food, not the sort of cheap, authentic Hing Won/Ying Du’ish chinese food we normally praise here on Midtown Lunch. Who the hell would spend $6 on 6 dumplings, when you can go to Chinatown and get 5 better dumplings for the price of 1 dumpling at the Rickshaw truck. Even with the subway ride there and back it would still be cheaper!
All of this 100% true. And yet, it doesn’t mean that nobody will like the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck. And that’s why we do the +/-
The biggest key to Rickshaw is not comparing it to Chinatown. It’s two different foods for two different eaters. One is for people who would be willing to trek 20 mins out of their way to get the cheapest dumplings, in the dirtiest place imagineable. The other is made for most of the people who work in Midtown. And while this blog usually rails against the laziness of those who refuse to travel for better food, there is a little party of me that likes Rickshaw. It kind of tastes good. Sort of like Boi to Go, the Vietnamese sandwich shop on the east side. Is it better than the $3.50 Banh Mi in Chinatown? Fuck no. Is $8 too much money to spend for a sandwich? Hell yeah. But if you’re going to spend $8 on a sandwich, is Boi to Go one of your best Midtown options? Yes. Why? Because it tastes good. It may not be a great “banh mi”. Maybe it shouldn’t have avocado. But it’s a good freakin’ sandwich.
And there’s the rub with Rickshaw. Are they good “dumplings” when matched head to head with our favorite cheap spots in Chinatown? Not even close. But if you are going to spend $9 on an overpriced lunch in Midtown, you could do a lot worse than one of the combos at Rickshaw. And truth be told, as far as dumplings go, it’s one of our only choices. It’s thoughtful food, made by a good chef (Anita Lo from Annisa, which is a kick ass restaurant), from the best ingredients possible (organic meat, etc.) If you like gussied up Asian food, the dipping sauces are delicious (I’m partial to the thai one) and the noodle salad that comes in the $9 combo is a tasty accompaniment to the dumplings (and the only way you could be remotely full after a lunch at the truck). I haven’t tried the salad, but I’ve heard it’s very popular with the ladies.
So there it is. Will I be going to the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck very often? Probably not. There is too much great, cheap Asian food to be had in Midtown. But if I was an office worker, looking for a healthier Asian flavored lunch, and Rickshaw was parked near my office- I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it.
THE + (What the person who loves this place would say)
- High quality ingredients
- Tasty dipping sauces
- Healthier than most Asian food in Midtown (dumplings are steamed)
- There’s a vegetarian dumpling option
- It’s from a truck. I love trucks.
THE – (What the person who hates this place would say about it)
- Too freaking expensive
- The dumplings are steamed! When I dumpling it up, I want fried dumplings
- The wrappers are too thin.
- The food is too dainty
- Not nearly enough food… especially for $9!
- Did I mention that it’s TOO FREAKING EXPENSIVE!
Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, Various Locations (sign up for their Twitter to get daily updates)