SF Eats: Dumpling Time
I came to Dumpling Time with mixed feelings.
On the one hand, I was super excited to try a dumpling place whose pictures I've seen posted on my friends' Facebook feeds for months now; on the other, I was apprehensive about the quality of Chinese food which is hipsterized, fusionized, and expensified - usually there's an inverse relation of the first with the last three variables.
On the one hand, I was excited that a dumpling place opened up in Potrero Hill; on the other, I was wistful that my old neighborhood was growing up and I wasn't around to be a part of these new developments.
So on the day of my departure back to Spain, I rushed to the restaurant to meet my sister, two large suitcases in tow in order to leave for the airport directly afterwards. The tables on the terrace aren't placed cheek to jowl, and we were lucky to score a corner table with even more space. The servers were friendly, and even engaged in some chit chat at the end about where I was going.
So how was the food?
We started with a couple cold plates. The pickled lotus, carrot, fresno salad was nice and crisp as it should be, but I didn't notice any chili. We also had a celery, yuba, peanut (and carrot) salad. I loved the savory flavor of the celery salad, but it looked just a bit tired when it got to the table.
Next came the shrimp and cilantro har gow. For me, this was the disappointment of the meal, as the wrappers were too thick, and so over-steamed that they fell apart easily.
The lowlight was followed by the highlight: the seafood gyoza were excellent. Whole pieces of scallop and shrimp made for a great chew and juiciness in each bite; none of the seafood mash that you sometimes find.
Next came the Tom Yum Goong xiaolongbao. These were okay; I could get lemongrass and spiciness in the flavors, but I missed the coconut milk (spelled out in the menu) and tanginess that I expected.
Finally came the classic pork xiaolongbao. These were, perhaps unexpectedly, totally legit. The skin was decently thin and had a good bite, while the interior was genuinely filled with soup. I prefer it when the meat inside disintegrates easily when you bite down, while this one was more of a firm meatball, but that is just a personal nit to pick.
So all in all, I thought Dumpling Time made a very good showing. And what about value? Well.... the bill for the two of us ended up being almost $50 including tax and tip - and we just had water. So I don't know if I would personally go there on a regular basis, but perhaps if I had guests or wanted to get together with friends in the neighborhood, it's not a bad choice at all.
11 Division St
San Francisco, CA 94103