I guess I’m the one who is behind the curve this time. I only just heard about Vanessa’s Dumplings on East 14th Street and that it’s a sister restaurant to the Dumpling House in Chinatown. (thanks, Eater.com) So I rushed over there this weekend to check it out for myself. Very similar, yes, but not the same.
Right off the bat, it’s pretty obvious that the sesame pancake is not at all the same. I mean, it’s small and round, so that’s your first give-away. The taste is pretty similar, but the big difference is that when you order one at Dumpling House, it’s probably so fresh that it came out of the pan just moments earlier. Here at Vanessa’s, well, I’m not sure how long this thing sat around before it was served to me. I tasted a pork & chive dumpling, and it’s pretty tasty, but again there is no way to compare the freshness. At Dumpling House, you have to stand there while they cook your dumplings, and once they’re done, it should only be a minute or two before you devour them all. It’s all about the turnover.
My personal favorite are the boiled vegetable dumplings, and honestly, they’re exactly the same in both places. Yay! They cook them to order at Vanessa’s, so that’s the first good sign. Wait a second, did I say exactly the same? Okay, so they’re sort of green at Vanessa’s, but the color doesn’t seem to change the way they taste one bit. And did I mention that there is ample seating at Vanessa’s? I haven’t been to Dumpling House since the supposed renovation, but how much bigger could it be? I guess I’ll have to check it out.