Dumplings of the Lower East Side
The Lower East Side is known for its culture and clubs. It's also known for its dumpling shops. Within a six-block radius of Ludlow, eight eateries specialize in dumplings. Here they are, ordered closest to farthest: Right on 123 Ludlow sits the Hi Thai Restaurant. It’s a bit on the pricey range ($4.95 for vegetable dumplings and $5.95 for shrimp dumplings) but offers a wide range of Thai meals with fried rice, noodles or curries.
Fried Dumplings sits at 99 Allen St. A picture menu lines the window. Eight boiled vegetable dumplings cost $3.00 and a bowl of fish ball soup goes for $3.50. (Don’t worry – it’s fish rolled in a ball of dough.)
Still less than half a mile away is Vanessa’s Dumpling House, by far the most famous dumpling place in the neighborhood. There are seven varieties of dumplings available for purchase in increments of four. For a new meal, try a sesame pancake sandwich with duck for only $2.50. The shop itself is certainly the most inviting, albeit the most crowded. Vanessa’s accepts credit cards and has menu brochures.
Not to be outdone by the well-known Vanessa’s, Prosperity Dumpling has two locations. One is at 69 Clinton Street, and the other at 46 Eldridge Street. For five dumplings it is only $1.00, which is the largest amount of grub for a single dollar on the Lower East Side. A vast menu sits above the counters. If you want an item that can easily be stored in the fridge, “Noodles with Duck” is an appetizing $4.00 meal.
If you exit the F train and walk south on Essex you will hit North Dumpling before you come to Hester St. This bare-bones shop spares nothing for taste or affordability. Have a sesame pancake for 75¢ as a side and ten boiled dumplings for $2.00. The service is fast and the owners are friendly, while somewhat lacking in their English vocabulary. But with only two crammed tables and a small booth, there isn’t much room to socialize anyway.
Hua Du Dumpling Shop Inc. sounds fancy, but only is if you’re bi-lingual. The menu is just in Chinese with the exception of “Frozen Dumplings” scribbled on it. There are no tables and only a cash register separates the kitchen from the front door.
Yi Ding Hao Dumpling Inc. also sounds fancy and also lacks tables, chairs, English and quantities to match prices on the menu. Located at 143 Division Street it seems to cater to only frozen dumplings and bulk quantities.
Here is a map with each eatery listed: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=209222485638641371233.0004ad531b7707ac83505&msa=0&ll=40.718705,-73.989766&spn=0.005521,0.009463
Go therefore, and eat!