Rickshaw Dumpling Responds to the Haters

Following yesterdays post about Rickshaw Dumpling Bar possibly opening a Midtown location (and the subsequent complaints that followed), part owner Kenny Lao responded in the comments:

“Hey Guys:

It’s Kenny, Anita’s partner from Rickshaw. Zach, thank you for all of the shout outs regarding the truck. This is my first response to comments on a blog, but I thought I would put in my two cents. I hope I don’t get too ripped up!

Yes, the rent was very high as Anita said on 8th Street and while rents in midtown are pricey, the combination of (1.) our goal of doing a smaller store, (2.) the softening of the real estate market and (3.) a high density of people that support our truck in midtown makes us really want to put in a brick and mortar store up there.

Regarding the truck: we would love to be in midtown all week long, and indeed being on 52nd and Lex on Tuesdays and 45th and 6th on Fridays is very busy (thanks for showing the dumpling love!) but with only one truck (so far!) we like cruising around the city and going to spots that people suggest we should try (email us new spots!) and potentially also using the truck to figure out where we can put new shops.”

And what about the whole Chinatown comparison?

And to the people that do think we are pricey compared to Chinatown, I want to remind them that by locating in the spots we do for customer convenience (23rd Street) we have higher rent costs compared to Chinatown which may be a bit difficult for most customers to get to, and I think we do have great dumplings with awesome recipes by our chef, Anita Lo and we use great ingredients that you may not find down in Chinatown. It really is what’s inside that counts thus we use Bell and Evan’s chicken, locally grown Hudson Valley duck and organic edamame in our dumplings.

Thanks [to Midtown Lunch] for creating a great forum and see you on the truck!”

Well, that settles that.


  • No, the only settled is that Rickshaw is the WORST value proposition in New York City dining.

    Also, I question the popularity of the truck in Midtown. Two or three weeks ago the truck was parked adjacent to the place where I conduct commerce and it was absolutely dead. In fact, a Rickshaw worker was standing outside my b office uilding handing out stickers for free dumpling samples to drum up business.

  • *outside my office building

  • For a $1 a dumpling, I better be getting drunk or it better be tasting like filet mingon. I was fooled once and it doesn’t do either of those things. $3 for 21 pods of edamame? I can order both of these on seamlessweb from any chinese food place for the same price and a ton more food. Richshaw FAIL.

  • Hell hath no fury like a Midtown Luncher overpaying for a meal.

  • Looks like Anita could use some help from Gordo. Vendy Truck Nightmares anyone?

  • I saw the truck parked on 7th Ave. in Park Slope on Saturday afternoon. Looks like they’re trying out new locations everywhere.

  • It is not the price Ken, it is the food. In my experience at the 23rd street local, which admittedly was 3 plus yrs. ago, I was actively wretching, trying to get the dumplings and watermelon juice down. I finally gave up and went to the Blimpie next door (which may or may not still be open). 11 plus dollars for duck dumplings and watermelon juice, both of which I found utterly vile, was not a good way to spend money. Especially for a relatively small amount of product. Unless you hired a new chef or made watermelon juice taste as good as it looks, I can’t imagine going back…

  • It’s just a totally wrong business model. Expensive organic dumplings from a truck – or worse, a storefront – what’s the point? You’re surrounded by cheaper and many would say better options on all sides. The only place the model works is if you’re the only game in town. There’s a pricey fancy-schmancy hot dog cart in Ridgefield CT. He always has a line. Why? He’s the only hot dog guy in town. Not so for you Rickshaw – you had little chance when everyone was rich, even less now.

    Save the pricey stuff for Anissa and get back to us when you drop prices 50%

  • @wayne: Good point–there’s no way NOT to consider the competition, even in midtown. Gyoza at any standard-issue sushi joint in the area are cheaper and sometimes tastier than Ricksaw’s pillows of mediocrity.

    Also, don’t hate on the Ridgfield CT hot dog man–he’s brought hot cart-lovin’ to the suburbs for years.

  • The consensus is overwhelming: These dumplings just aren’t that good. In addition to being mediocre (note: just because you buy bell and evans doesnt mean they’re going to taste good) they’re vastly over priced. Choose one: mediocre or expensive, but not both.

  • Dylan – I actually love the Ridgefield hot dog man – just using him as an example of pricey cart food. Plus, his food is actually tasty AND hi-quality (unlike Rickshaw apparently) – I feel like I’m getting my $ worth there

    (if that’s even possible in Ridgefield)

  • I’m going to have to defend RD here. At 52nd and Lex, at least, there really aren’t any comparable dumpling options nearby. (If there’s one I’m unaware of, please let me know and I’ll love you forever.)

    I could hop on the Downtown 6 and get much, much cheaper, but my time has value. Sometimes, that value is greater than the difference in price. The $9 dumplings and side dish option isn’t the worst Midtown Lunch ever devised.

  • I haven’t tried Rikshaw, but there are some serious drama queens here… Especially “Rikshaw Hater”, ridiculous.

    I am very tired of over priced crap that whines “But we’re better…” in NYC, though.

  • I’ve had them and thought they were just fine.

  • At least we have to give Rickshaw some credit for bringing dumplings to a dumpling-starved area. I would love a Chinatown-style dumpling place in Midtown (not a cart) but don’t think there is one around here.

  • “There’s a pricey fancy-schmancy hot dog cart in Ridgefield CT. He always has a line. Why? He’s the only hot dog guy in town.”

    New York City has a Papaya King or one of its imitators in every neighborhood, a dirty-water dog cart on every corner, and Nathan’s… yet there’s still a thriving market for “fancy dogs”: Hallo Berlin, F&B, Crif Dogs, the former Mandler’s…

    New Yorkers are generally willing to pay more for a better product. Unfortunately for Rickshaw, the consensus seems to be that the greasy pork-and-chive dumplings that for for 5/$1 in Chinatown (or 5/$2 at Vanessa’s on 14th) are a better product than the product Rickshaw offers, regardless of the quality of the ingredients that go into them.

  • I wanna be heard! Reposted from the wrong article thing (read: yesterday’s).

    I think that Rickshaw Dumpling Bar should not be compared to any of those places in Chinatown. It’s not about location, it’s not about cost– it’s about the purpose. RDB is trying to make upscale dumplings, trying to up the profile of dumplings beyond just a simple family operation. You want “high quality dumplings,” go to RDB.

    And that is why I am 100% against RDB. I’ve been to their 8th Street location and the Peking duck dumplings I received were horrendously cooked. Not overcooked–that wouldn’t be correct–but just done very poorly. They were dripping with oil and the skins were hard. Not al dente pleasant, but just… too chewy. The meat filling was skinny and unimpressive. The saving grace, and even then, not that enjoyable, was the sauce which imparted the only flavor to be found. There is no reason to pay $1/dumpling for “quality” ingredients, when a cheaper dumpling using non-specific-origined ingredients tastes many times better– I don’t appreciate the careful calculation of this restaurant in trying to be trendy. I appreciate the locavore movement and its respect of food sources, but I don’t support its rampant misuse or use simply as justification for improbable pricing. Do one thing, do it well, and price appropriately. RDB fails on the latter two counts.

  • My dearest “Johannes Staplebum,”

    If those Rickshaw people are, as you assert, spending their time, money and energy “trying to up the profile of dumplings,” then the world is more fucked up than I had previously assumed.

  • DocChuck: Sarcasm.

  • The price thing is important, but what slammed the shutter down on the place for me was the taste of the dumplings. About twice a year I’d try the one on 23rd, then I would try the one on 8th street, hoping the dumplings were good. They just weren’t. Sort of tasted Food Court-y, like they’d been sitting around all day. Go to any decent Chinese restaurant and they cook the dumplings to order and serve them — hot, fresh, tasty.

    The only thing I ever liked at the place was the Watermelonade.

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