I'd been following the progress of Great Wow, from the first time I saw the handwritten cardboard sign in March, to actually seeing the sign go up in early July, to reading that the place was going to specialize in Northern Chinese Dumplings and Noodles. Wow. While I was somewhat excited, it was tempered a bit since the last jiaozi place that opened in san Diego was a disappointment. For some strange reason, more so than the Missus who was born and raised in Qingdao and we often joke that "dough is your destiny", I often think of jiaozi as true comfort food for me. It's important, the small things matter, it is almost a birthright. This was probably cemented by eating a ton of jiaozi while living in the SGV, having watched my MIL make it many times, even watching the Missus's Aunts make it during a family reunion in Qingdao.
So for me this means; you don't come to Great Wow for Kung Pao Chicken, nor the XLB......it's about the noodles and dumplings they make in the glass room.....
Last week Candice and I were free for lunch, so we met up at Great Wow. The interior is fairly simple, plain wooden tables, and super hard and rather uncomfortable wooden chairs.
The menus are basically paper pinned together and even though they've been open only a short time looks worn. There's a ton of marks and writing on the menu. But my basic favorites were easily found....though they were out of the pork and celery jioazi.
Candice and I started with two of the liang cai; cold dishes.
Both were a bit disappointing.
There should be a crunch that leads to a bit of meatiness.
The Bean Curd Skin was very bland at first, until we realized that we had to mix it with the pool of sauce on the bottom.
All of this would be forgiven if the jiaozi was any good. And would you believe it; these were pretty good!
The jioazi were on the large side, if this were Beijing where you order jiaozi by batches of 25 at some places, you'd be lying on the floor after one order!
The Pork, Shrimp, and Chive came out first. The wrapper was good, quite thin, though I think the dough has been over-worked a bit as it didn't quite have the tenderness and stretch I like. But that's really splitting hairs. Lot's of meat in the filling, I mean lots of pork. The filling in these were a bit heavy handed with regards to the salt/msg, but were far from bland.
I preferred the Egg, Shrimp, and Chive, which were a bit lighter and you could make out the shrimp flavor.
You could tell that while the dough was perhaps worked by machine, that the final rolling was done by hand...the seal where the wrappers came together were as thick as the rest of the dumpling skin. Overall, these were quite good; probably the best I've had in San Diego.
Funny thing, after getting back to the office, I received a text from Xiāngjiāo....guess what she was having? Then PeterL sent out a text, he was also eating at Great Wow...but of course, in the typical PeterL way, he ordered XLB.....sigh.....
Of course, I rarely do just one visit if doing a post, so I soon returned to Great Wow. The young man working remembered me!
I placed my order and sat back. Remember how rather tattered the menu looks? Well, check out the soy sauce and vinegar dispensers? Only open a week or two and the place already looks like it's in the SGV......are sticky tables around the corner?
I started with the pork hock. The nice young man told me I could do half an order.
This was quite good, not too salty, with decent pork flavor, and rather tender. Nice on a day where the temps were peaking in the low 90's.
This time they had the pork and celery jiaozi.
The wrappers were even better this time around. The filling was nicely seasoned, edging on a bit too salty, but very plump and moist. Lot's of pork; it could have used more celery in my opinion, but hey, it's a meat eater's world these days. The jiaozi here are quite large; I was stuffed.
The free dessert is the typical White Fungus Sweet Soup (冰糖雪耳糖水) with dates. On my first visit it was way to sweet...this time around it was a nice end to a meal on a hot day.
Do you notice something missing? The first thing both "YZ" and the Missus said when they saw this was "where's the lotus seeds"?
Later that day I found out that Candice had returned the day before! Then later in the day Xiāngjiāo sent me photos....she had ended up back at Great Wow. Having spent half a year in Beijing, I think she misses a lot of these type of dishes.
I found the service, at least from the young man with glasses and the young girl working to be very nice. There are quite a few grand opening kinks to work out, but I'm sure they'll get things in line. I'm also hoping they add some additional dishes....not kung pao ji or Xiao long bao, that have true roots in the region to the menu.
Oh and I got 20% off on each of my visits too.....grand opening discount perhaps?
And yes, the dumplings are good. But not as good as my MIL's....so at least we won't have her calling the place doing the "La Guan Xi" thing to find their secrets!
3860 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111