Sunday, July 31, 2011

Perfection and dumplings (Prosperity Dumpling 興旺鍋貼)

Prosperity Dumpling storefront

What constitutes a perfect dumpling? That's a hard question. One I'm clearly not smart enough to answer... but I'll try anyway. Know what I think? It's a tremendously stupid question. Ask 10 different people and you'll probably get 10 different responses (unless you're talking exclusively to food blogging assholes who've developed a formulaic answer based mostly on what #{insert prominent food person's name} says). If you ask someone from Southern China they'd probably tell you that thin, almost translucent, skins are dope as fuck. If you ask someone from Northern China they might say that thicker skins are where it's at. If you ask someone from Taiwan they'd probably tell you that elongated dumplings are the most phallic shape and therefore the best. Of course, then there's the issue of how to cook them... fried, steamed, or boiled? So many choices. Which one is the pinnacle of dumpling technology?

Correct answer: there is none. They're all pretty legit to me. Whether they're doughy and thick, delicate and light, or elongated and greasy... I love them all. There's a time and place for every kind of meat pocket! For that very reason, I refuse to write a post waxing poetic about how one place serves up the best dumplings in the city, because to me that's an utterly dumb statement... one I don't care to defend. Instead, I'll define perfection by another metric - with purchasing power.

5 for a dollar

You can argue all day with people about the characteristics of your favorite corner dumpling place makes the bitchin'est nuggets of pork and dough, but you can't argue with cost. There used to be a time when every place in Chinatown did the five dumps per $1 deal, but that time is long gone. Most places are down to four per $1. That's a whopping 25% more per dumpling. Either that means that those other places make dumplings that are 25% better tasting than Prosperity's or they're a shittier deal. I don't know how anyone could ever quantify the taste of a dumpling on a percentage scale, but I doubt there's that much variance from one shop to another. Infallible logic.

Box of 10

I always feel like such a baller in Chinatown. Layin' down bills and makin' it rain like it ain't no thang... ordering dumplings by the tens. That box right there? Only $2. Truth. Prosperity's dumplings are fried rapidly and on the spot, none of that reheating nonsense. They usually have a line during lunch so the turnover is sufficiently high where you'll never get anything more than a few minutes old. The skins probably aren't going to impress you if you want paper thin wrappers, but they're good enough unless you're a butthole who expects the world from a 20 cent dumpling. Fried just long enough to lightly brown the exterior, they retain the compliance and chewiness of boiled skins while still possessing that carcinogenic deliciousness we've come to associate with fried foods.

Pork and chives

The innards? Well it's pork and chives. Probably some other shit like ginger and garlic to make it smell real good too. You'd probably like it if you like eating pork products. The meat clearly isn't of the finest cut, but truthfully... the coarseness adds textural contrast rather than just having a ball of mush in the center. Flavorwise, nothing is particularly overwhelming i.e. the fact that these use chives isn't offensive to the haters. All in all, they're just... good. The skins are crisp yet chewy and the filling is inoffensive yet still flavorful. There are absolutely no negatives to these babies unless you're an orthodox Jew. Plus they're cheap. Can't forget that.

Sesame pancake

They also do other stuff good too! Like make scallion/sesame pancakes. Theirs aren't like the deep fried ones that I normally rub on my face in Taiwan. Theirs are light, fluffy, and breadlike. To be entirely honest? Don't get the plain ones. They're boring as fuck (although I imagine I'd be singing a different tune if I were drunk). They also make a beef filled variant for 75 cents more. DO THAT. Everything tastes better with beef... unless you're Hindu or vegetarian.

Anyhoo, until they raise prices or someone else makes a dumpling that is better (I probably won't believe it unless the difference is both tangible and proven to be statistically significant), I'm gonna go on thinking that Prosperity Dumpling makes the "best" dumplings in the city. By which I mean they're the cheapest and taste pretty decent.

Prosperity Dumpling‎
46 Eldridge St # 1, New York, NY 10002-5229


Feisty Foodie said...

They do a duck scallion pancake thing too I think. Same price as beef. I remember staring at the sign after eating 15 dumplings and wondering why we didn't come here first (middle of a dumpling tour).

PS I take this as a PERSONAL AFFRONT since I just wrote an article on the best dumpling places around the city! Prosperity won in the $1 dumpling category though. Hehehe. I left out the thick skinned dumplings that I like in Flushing though because I don't know their name and don't have any real pictures.

Kevin said...

Just having returned from Paris, where I spent €15 on breakfast each day, $1 dumplings just seems so ridiculously outlandish.

...Of course, I spent so much because I'm a fat ass and would buy 2 or 3 croissants and/or pastries, but that's besides the point.

Danny said...

dizzam son, i know what you talking about when you say it's hard to call something 'best'. it's a shame that google engineers don't know how to make something that will beat that word, because 'best' comes up on search results ALL THE DAMN TIME. ugh. goog. come on! i love prosperity too, it is the best 5 for $1 right now, and i probably don't want to know what's in there. haha

Nicholas said...

Feisty Foodie - you're right. I AM CALLING YOU OUT AND YOU KNOW IT.

I had their duck scallion pancake thing once, it's just as good as their beef one (which is to say... awesome). I'm glad you agree that there's a time and place for thick skinned dumplings too. It bothers the fuck out of me when people all say "translucent thin skins" as though it were the end all criterion.

Kevin - but it's a reality. You too can have $1 dumplings. Let me know if you're ever gonna head to c-town bro.

Danny - remember? I just make sure ads are running copacetic like. I can't change the world of GOOG. I'd also rather not know what goes into them. I like mysterious things.

Post a Comment

oh snap. I can control the text here?