Pop-Up Dumpling House
The menu is very short, consisting mainly of the namesake dumplings, which are made to order and filled with your choice of lamb, rib eye, shrimp, traditional pork, vegetarian or wild coho salmon. An order comes with your choice of hot and sour or egg drop soup, and a choice of traditional, spicy or Sichuan-style dipping sauces.
Most notably, it came in the form of tender, sweet pork belly slabs folded into a slice of the kind of dough from which Chinese bao dumplings are made. It’s an elegant, tiny sandwich with slices of green apple and green onion, which add fresh, crispy, spicy and sweet elements to this unique dish. And it will only set you back three bucks.
The Sichuan sauce is characterized by an odd spice that is found in many parts of Southern China and some other South Asian countries. The pinkish kernels resemble peppercorns but aren’t. The flavor is hard to describe. It has a definite mouth-numbing quality and an aromatic whiff that reminds me of cilantro, while being completely not at all like cilantro, if you know what I mean.
Being boiled, the dumpling wrappers are soft, chewy and delicate. A plate of dumplings is a simple dish but fully satisfying. And if your attention span is a bit short, you can split an order of eight dumplings into two different fillings. The salmon dumpling doesn’t have much in the way of seasonings but delivers a big mouthful of salmon, making it one of my favorites even if it comes off as less than traditional. The lamb doesn’t taste very lamby, thanks to the inscrutable seasonings. The rib eye is ground and mixed with carrots and scallion. We didn’t get around to trying the pork, instead choosing to get our pork meats elsewhere.
Most notably, it came in the form of tender, sweet pork belly slabs folded into a slice of the kind of dough from which Chinese bao dumplings are made. It’s an elegant, tiny sandwich with slices of green apple and green onion, which add fresh, crispy, spicy and sweet elements to this unique dish. And it will only set you back three bucks. Another version substitutes duck for the pork in the little sandwich, but it isn’t as glorious—partly because the duck is cold, and partly because ... pork belly.
The best bowl of soup to be had at the Pop-Up Dumpling House, by far, is the hot and sour soup that comes with an order of dumplings. Not overly thickened with cornstarch, it’s spicy with ground black pepper and flecks of red chile, and sour with vinegar. I thought I detected some Sichuan pepper too. It’s not vastly different from any other bowl of hot and sour soup, but the flavors seemed heightened. It really engaged the senses. The egg drop soup, however, was bland by comparison.
Also noteworthy is a side salad called spicy cucumber, seasoned with oil, red chile flakes and—you guessed it—Sichuan pepper.
at Talin Market
88 Louisiana SE
Hours: Thursday and Friday: 11am-6pm
Ambiance: Carved out of a cluttered corner
FYI: The Pop-Up Dumpling House sets up shop at the Santa Fe Talin on Mondays
Important: Pop-up Dumpling will be closed Thursday, Jan. 1, and Friday, Jan. 2, due to a family emergency.
The Alibi recommends: Pork belly sandwich, salmon dumplings and the green tea mojito.