Dumplings Galore at Jeng Chi

21 Oct

I’ve been craving dumplings for a while now.  After the race today, it was the perfect time to get 4 hungry participants together for a family style lunch at Jeng Chi, the closest thing to a dumpling house in Dallas.  Located in the Chinatown strip mall off of Greenville Ave in Richardson, Jeng Chi is an extremely popular, no frills spot due to its low prices and quick service.  Though the menu offers a diverse selection of traditional Chinese cuisine (and I’ve had several notable Szechuan style dishes here), today it was all about the dumplings.  I think a group of 4 was just perfect for this outing, we got to sample a variety of items and not over gorge on any one item.  We decided on a steamer of little juicy buns (xiaolongbao), pot-stickers (pan fried dumplings), boiled chicken and zucchini dumplings, green onion pancakes, and noodles topped with ground pork sauce (zha jiang mian). 

First came the eight little juicy buns in their steamer, served with a ginger vinegar dipping sauce.  This is a very popular item at Jeng Chi, almost every table today had an order.  Following Shanghai tradition, the waitress brought us Chinese soup spoons so we could follow the correct procedure to enjoy our xiaolongbao.  Pick up your bun from the steamer (careful to not break the thin skin, otherwise the juice inside will be lost!) and carefully place on your soup spoon.  Spoon a little ginger-vinegar sauce over the top (the vinegar cuts down on the rich feel of the juicy filling and the ginger helps digestion), bite a small opening on the side of your juicy bun and suck out the piping hot savory broth.  Now pop the rest of the juicy bun in your mouth (now that the messy but delicious broth is mostly out) and enjoy the meaty filling with a bite from the ginger-vinegar sauce.

jengchi-xiaolongbao.jpg

The little juicy buns at Jeng Chi today came out piping hot.  The broth was a tad blander that the ones at Shanghai Restaurant (which I believe is the only other place in the DFW area that serves these), but I liked that they were small and thin-skinned (small xiaolongbao are the style in Shanghai whereas the popularized American style soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai or New Green Bo in New York City are larger and can’t be eaten in a single bite).

Then came the green onion pancakes.  Thick and mildly onion-flavored, this flaky fried concoction was wonderful with a little mixed sauce of soy, hot sauce, and ginger.  I think it could’ve used a touch more salt, but at only $2.00 for 6 pieces, it’s definitely a bargain!

The boiled chicken and zucchini dumplings came out quickly after that.  Though chicken and zucchini isn’t the most traditional filling, these were wonderful with chewy wrappers and a mildly flavored filling.  I think Jeng Chi should start offering these in a chicken broth with a few leaves of spinach or other leafy green.  Though the dumplings were good with some soy sauce, they were too bland to stand on their own.

jengchi-dumplings.jpg

While we were munching down on the boiled dumplings, the ground pork sauce noodles came out.  The flour noodles looked freshly made on-site, chewy, soft, and thick.  The noodles were also topped with strips of carrots and celery.  Mix the toppings and the noodles all together, and you end up with very traditional northern Chinese home cooking.  The ground pork and tofu in brown sauce was thick and flavorful, like almost pan gravy for your noodles!

jengchi-noodles.jpg

Last out were the pot-stickers.  These were downright disappointing.  I’ve yet to find a place in DFW that serves pot-stickers as good as those at Lai Lai Dumpling House in Houston.  The ones at Jeng Chi today came out with broken thin skin, and were overly greasy.  They tasted as if they had been boiled first before pan fried (or maybe it was just because the skin was so thin).  Pot-stickers should have a chewy, slightly thick wrapper that is pan-fried from raw until the skin is medium brown on the bottom and lightly golden on top. 

jengchi-potstickers.jpg

Being that Jeng Chi is the only place in the area that serves up such a variety of dumplings, I’m definitely bound for a revisit.  Most of the items were above average to excellent (with the exception of the pan fried dumplings, which may have been just especially bad today).  But like I said before, the menu is large and I can’t wait to try some of the other items.  As we walked up to the cashier to pay ($26.00 after tax and tip for all four of us), I noticed several items in the bakery/deli counter that I would love to try including roasted eggs, kao fu (Shanghai style fried gluten), boiled peanuts, smoked fish, and various fruity baked items.

Rating: 3 / 5

Jeng Chi
400 N. Greenville Ave
Richardson, TX 75081

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4 Responses to “Dumplings Galore at Jeng Chi”

  1. Jeff Oestreich 11/06/2007 at 12:10 pm #

    Donna,

    I love Jeng Chi. I’m guessing you got a bad day for the fried pot-stickers. Usually they are great – and that’s not just me talking but a friend of mine’s Chinese mother who prides in her own technique for making them!

    I go there every two months or so and about a year ago I had an onion pancake that was one of the most horrible things I ever tasted. They clearly used old stale oil on what is normally a very tasty item.

    It’s a great restaurant – but sometimes they seem to pull bonehead moves in the kitchen…

  2. donnaaries 08/21/2008 at 8:47 am #

    With all the new Asian places opening in town, I’d almost forgotten about Jeng Chi. Went there to pick up a bag of their housemade frozen pork and napa cabbage dumplings to bring home. Just place the dumplings in a sauce pan, cover with water (about an inch above the dumplings) , bring to a boil, and when the dumplings float to the top, you’re done! A simple dipping sauce of black vinegar and soy sauce and grated ginger on top of these chewey delights brought back memories of eating in a back alley restaurant in Beijing. A perfect quick meal.

  3. luniz 08/21/2008 at 3:03 pm #

    black vinegar?

  4. donnaaries 08/21/2008 at 6:01 pm #

    Luniz, rice vinegar comes in two forms, white and black. The white rice vinegar is usually labeled as simply “rice vinegar”, whereas the black rice vinegar is usually labeled “black vinegar.” White rice vinegar has a higher vinegar content (similar to Western distilled white vinegars), whereas black rice vinegar is not as acidic and has a more complex taste (think Balsamic vinegar, but not as sweet).

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