Mahjong Dumpling

Eater NY alerted me to this new spot from the Cascabel Taqueria people, and the menu here was even more fascinating than at Cascabel, so I made making it out to the UES for Mahjong Dumpling a priority!  In fact, it's wound up meaning that I didn't have time to get my library books turned in, which will lead to me paying fifty cents or so.  Worth it?  Oh yes.

Check out the menu here.  Menupages has wrong and/or old information as far as the hours go.  I got scared when I saw 5 P.M. to 11 P.M. listed there, but then I called and learned they open at 11:30 A.M. every day.  Whew.

After passing about a dozen of the cutest dogs I've ever seen, I made it to Mahjong Dumpling, where I was greeted by a very friendly waitress.  It was mid-afternoon, so the place wasn't crowded, but they were getting consistent business even at that time, so I think they're probably doing well.

FYI: The food is nut free, mostly organic, and vegan-friendly.

I feel like whoever made this menu is my soul mate.  The awesome, fusioned-up dishes, the whimsical names.. For instance, the first thing I had to try was the Vietnamese Something Soup:

$4 Thai Something: orange split pea, coconut milk, cilantro, red chili
Wow!  I have never enjoyed split peas so much!  I confirmed with the kitchen that it's dairy-free by the way, so dig right in.  It's creamy and delicious, with a good depth of flavor.  They put a chili sauce in a tube on the tables, and it packs a little heat but is also sweet.  Eat half your soup as it comes and then swirl some of the sweet chili sauce in for the second half.  Yumsies.  The waitress also highly recommended the Drunken Carrot Soup, by which I'd already drawn a little star on my paper menu, so I hope to come back for that one day.

I had narrowed my dumpling selection down to three that I wanted to try the most, but I knew I only had stomach room for two, so I let my waitress choose for me between A La Farm, Red Lantern, and Boardwalk Crab.  She easily selected the latter 2:

All dumplings are 3 for $4.25 - Boardwalk Crab: crispy Maryland style peekytoe crab, light mustard aioli
This was nice.  I mean, it's a fried crab dumpling, so you're sort of gettin' what you ordered, y'know?  But you ordered it 'cause a fried crab dumpling is delicious!  Or if you're like me, you ordered it because you wanted the light mustard aioli, which was the star of that show in my opinion.

Red Lantern: chorizo, paprika, sweet roasted yellow pepper sauce, charred corn salsa
This was my favorite of the two (well of course it was, there's more going on).  I loved the chorizo as it was the ground up kind rather than those cubes you sometimes get.  It could've been a note spicier for me, but I was armed with the sweet chili sauce on the table.  The sweet roasted yellow pepper sauce was delightful, and I enjoyed the corn, but I wished there'd been more of it.  I had a lot of fun playing around with dipping the two different dumpling sets into each other's salsas.

I know there are purists who poo poo this place as well as Cascabel.  I've seen reviews saying these combos don't "work", are "to de-constructed" (sic) or are "too international," and that they could just go to Chinatown for cheap, "authentic," delicious dumplings.  Well, yeah.  You go to Chinatown when you want good, cheap Chinese food.  You go spend extra money when you go to restaurants with trained chefs and interesting, inventive, self-proclaimed "mischievous" food.

If you're into rejoicing in the orgies of eclecticism our ever-flattening world makes possible the way I am, then queue up the latest Girl Talk Album*, and make your way up to this remixing fun fest of a restaurant and dig in.  And if you're up for $9 cocktails, they have a ridiculously fun menu for those.

Mahjong Dumplings on Urbanspoon

*You haven't downloaded it yet?  What the hell is wrong with you?  It's free!  And it's the best one yet.  And the ending... I was actually tearing up at the gym on the treadmill, but I realize I'm a huge dork.

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