Welcome to Mmm-yoso, a food blog. Kirk writes most of the posts. He wrote about Dumpling Inn way back in 2005. Cathy also blogs here alot. But today ed (from Yuma) is posting about Dumpling Inn. Way back in 2010.
In December, Tina and I were driving up Convoy Street heading for a couple bowls of ramen at Yakyudori when I asked her to look for someplace she'd like to lunch the next day. Almost instantly, she said, "Hey, Dumpling Inn, I'd love some dumplings."
By then, Tina had already heard my stories about Dumpling Inn. How the same space used to be occupied by a restaurant named MRSHO's. I never figured it out -- Mr. Sho's or Mrs. Ho's? Or how I once came in and ordered fish dumplings. The waitress asked if I wanted spicy soup with it for a dollar extra, and I said yes. Only when the dumplings showed up, did I realize that the mild-flavored fish dumplings would be swimming in spicy soup. Another time I craved Xiao Long Bao (also called soup dumplings) that I had been reading about at Chowhound, but found nothing by either of those names anywhere on the menu.
Okay, maybe I had some past issues with this restaurant, but when Tina suggested going there, I realized that I hadn't been in Dumpling Inn in at least five years. Overdue for a visit.
They certainly looked right. But I found them slightly disappointing. The mild filling was okay, certainly, but the flavor was not memorable in any way. The moderately thick wrappers seemed slightly understeamed and gummy on the top half and slightly overdone and cardboardy on the bottom. Not terrible, but far from the best potstickers I have eaten.
Chile oil, white vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. No black vinegar, however. I also wished that each set of dumplings had come with separate little mixing plates or small bowls. The way it was, our little plates ended up with a mix of flavors -- as if we wanted all of the dumplings with the same background tastes.
The portion size was excellent. The sweet, tangy, and salty dressing was perfect for the salad. Both Tina and I loved the contrast in textures between the generally crunchy julienne of daikon, celery, and carrot and the unique chewy crunch of the long strips of jellyfish:
The fish and chive dumplings showed up next:
The fillings had a mild fishy flavor, generally pleasant. The wrappers seemed about right, not too thick or chewy. Well steamed. I would have preferred a better filling-to-dumpling ratio. These were certainly not overly stuffed dumplings.
Tina and I warned each other not to pop a scalding hot, soup-filled dumpling into our mouths. But of course, I tried to eat one too soon and then spent a minute or so shoving the dumpling around in my mouth to keep from hurting any one part of it too much. Nicely, Tina didn't laugh at me. Too much.
Once the dumplings had cooled to the proper temperature, we dug in and enjoyed the rest of them. While the wrappers were fairly thick, we felt they contained plenty of filling. The soup/meatball balance also seemed about right. None of the dumplings looked ruptured, and every one I ate (even counting the one I harpooned with a chopstick) contained some soup. Perhaps the flavors in the dumplings are not traditional enough to satisfy an XLB connoisseur like Kirk, but they were certainly good enough for Tina and I.
Overall, except for burning my mouth, I enjoyed the lunch. I'd happily return. And next time, probably try more than just dumplings. And remember to let the XLBs cool down.
Dumpling Inn, 4619 Convoy (in strip mall with Korean Mkt), San Diego, (858) 268-9638