Downtown Lunch: Tasty Dumpling
Something shocking has happened since I started doing this blog almost two years ago. People from all over the city are actually allowing these words to exit their mouth (without laughing hysterically)… “I wish I worked in Midtown”. As good as some of the food that gets written about on this site looks, nobody should feel that way (have you walked through Time Square lately?). In order to help alleviate the pangs of jealousy felt in other parts of the city (especially Downtown), I have tried to occasionally post lunches from other areas, like Feisty Foodie’s write-up of the Mobile Fried Chicken Truck on Water St. Well, I’m extremely excited to introduce our newest Downtown correspondent, Daniel Krieger- an amazing photographer (you may have seen his stuff on Eater) and lover of all Midtown Lunch’ish foods. He starts off strong, with the quickest way to make me jealous- a Chinatown lunch for under $5…
I remember back in the old days (that’d be about six months ago) when you could get 5 dumplings for a dollar. For two bucks a normal person would be full; for me it was more like $2.75 (I would round out the meal with a 75 cent Golden Pancake). But those days are behind us: Tasty Dumpling, (“The Real Tasty D” in Chinatown Lunch parlance), Mulberry Street’s battle-tested Chinatown lunch hole has recently upped its prices: a five-spot of pan-fried dumplings will now set you back an additional quarter, ringing in at a budget-stretching $1.25.
Small-framed gals and fancy belt-conscious boys can still do dim sum for under 3 bucks…For the rest (and notably, for your Downtown lunch correspondent) we’re feeling the pinch. But that doesn’t mean we’re skipping out.
What I ate (and some serious downtown lunch porn), after the jump…
Fried Chive & Pork Dumplings ($1.25 for 5): Stuffed into a white styrofoam container are five hot, greasy reasons to visit Tasty D. The best part is the audible crunch you get when biting into each handcrafted, soy and sriracha drenched, golden-greased-wedge. The fried cabbage and pork dumplings are equally heavenly, but the cabbage stinks something fierce. Less heathen lunchersâ€”let’s call them sissiesâ€”can opt for one of the many boiled options.
Pork Wonton Soup ($1.25 for small pint size): The soup is floating with silky noodles, shreds of spinach, scallion, and minuscule baby shrimp with gross pinhead sized black eyes. The wontons themselves look like little translucent brains bobbing in the broth. It’s all rather nasty, but don’t be deterredâ€”the dumplings are surprisingly delicate and the soup flavorful enough to warrant the extra twenty-five cent price hike (you cheap bastard).
Pancake with Beef ($2.00): This high-rolling two-buck snack features penny-thin slices of beef stacked generously between two fried pieces of doughy sesame bread. The chef (or what have you) then stuffs the sandwich with shredded carrots and cilantro, bahn mi-style. Some soy and hot sauce are needed to resuscitate the flavor of the too-fatty beef (at least it looks like beef, but what’s to be expected for two dollars?).
Total cost of Chinatown lunch: 4.50
Boiled vegetable dumplings (8 for $3)
Golden Pancake ($1)
Chicken and Corn Soup (1 pint for $1.25)
Spicy Cabbage ($2)
Don’t torture your coworkers by bringing this food back to the office, especially if you go the cabbage route. Adventurous lunch’ers should try to squeeze into one of the clean-it-yourself tables at Tasty D. Don’t get too close to the natives when they’re eating soup as it can be a very loud, and sometimes splashy experience. Or eat it outside in Columbus Park where you can take in a game of Xiangqi (Chinese chess) or watch a local bum urinate on the bench you were about to sit on.
Tasty Dumpling, 54 Mulberry St. (btw. Bayard & Mosco), 212-349-0070
Post & Photos by Daniel Krieger