In the annals of cheap eats, it’s hard to beat dumpling houses for sheer value. Two new dumpling specialists have just opened on the delicious Eighth Avenue corridor in Sunset Park–Prosperity Dumpling (a branch of the one in Manhattan) and XSG Dumpling House. Both offer homemade fried or boiled dumplings, noodle soups, and sesame pancake sandwiches.
The two places are about ten blocks away from each other, so you can easily do a dumpling-sesame pancake crawl to compare the two. (You might also want to include Kai Feng Fu on this jaunt.)
While you wait for your order at XSG Dumpling House, marvel at the female proprietor’s speedy hands, as she rolls out dough and assembles dumplings on a large, floured table behind the counter. The pork and Chinese vegetable fried dumplings (four for $1), taste pleasantly of cabbage and pork fat (you can also opt for pork-chive). The dumpling skins are slightly thicker than the ideal, but still delicate, chewy, and tender. Once bitten, the dumplings ooze porky juice.
Instead of cutting a wedge from a large sesame pancake for each order, XSG Dumpling House makes its pancakes in individual rounds. The woman behind the counter split open the still-steaming disk and piled on carrot, cucumber, lettuce and a few slices of cold, roasted beef, which tasted of five-spice powder. The bread itself could have had a lighter texture, but it was deliciously rich and full-flavored, elevated by a squirt of what was probably black vinegar. The sandwich costs $2.
Prosperity Dumpling is doing a much brisker business than XSG–behind the counter, dumplings are being fashioned assembly-line-style. Prosperity also offers four chive-pork fried dumplings for the standard $1. Here, the dumpling skins are thinner and browned to a crisper state, but the pork inside isn’t as juicy and tasty as that at XSG.
Prosperity’s scallion pancake with beef goes for the low price of $1.75. The pancake is flaky and light, piled with cilantro and carrots, and augmented with a few slices of roasted beef.
XSG Dumpling House
5301 Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn
4317 Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2009