By Evelyn Barge
Forget chicken soup. When I’ve got the aches or blues, Chinese dumplings are what my soul craves.
Trying out new dumpling houses in the San Gabriel Valley has become a favorite pastime of mine. That’s why I was excited to visit Dumpling 10053 in El Monte to check out their offerings.
As it turns out, the mysterious number in the second part of the name is actually a helpful forget-me-not. 10053 is the restaurant’s street address on Valley Boulevard.
Dumpling 10053 has a wonderfully expansive menu. There are nearly 60 separate menu items, which is a lot compared to other dumpling houses in the area that limit their menus to a few specific things.
I knew a couple things I just had to try, before I even set foot through the door.
First up was the steamed dumpling with pumpkin and shrimp ($6.50). I actually first read about this particular specialty in Los Angeles Magazine’s food issue, so I knew it would be stellar – and it was. I love pumpkin-flavored anything, but even my dining companion, who is usually not so inclined, said this was his favorite dish.
My hands-down favorite was the pork, crab and sea cucumber boiled dumplings ($6.95). To paraphrase Red Lobster, the seafood lover is definitely in me, and these savory morsels satisfied my every craving.
Our final order of dumplings were boiled and stuffed with fluffy rock cod ($7.50). These dumplings were remarkably light and airy, the perfect complement to balance out our meal.
Moving on to other parts of the menu, we also ordered a newly available item that our waitress recommended, the homemade cuttlefish ball soup for two ($6.50). It was a simple yet tasty concoction with a hearty serving of fish balls floating in a clear broth.
The green onion pancakes ($3.75) were also delightful and had more flavor than some I’ve sampled in other restaurants, including at a very famous dumpling house in New York City’s Chinatown. (Not to upset fans of Joe’s Shanghai, because I was blown away by the powerful soup dumplings I devoured while visiting the Big Apple.)
Since we were on a roll, my dinner partner and I decided to order a few items to go: shrimp fried rice ($6.25) and crispy fried pork intestines ($4.95), which were saved for a midnight snack.
The wait staff at Dumpling 10053 is refreshingly helpful. During our recent weekend visit, the waitress engaged us as we made our meal selections and she was quick to offer up recommendations and answer questions.
Although we splurged and ordered a veritable dumpling house feast, every single menu item at Dumpling 10053 is reasonably priced under $10. Here, a lunchtime or solo diner could easily get away with a bill totaling $10-$15.
That’s the beauty of dumplings, where each steaming platter arrives with 10 pieces that you can have all to yourself or, if forced to, share with others.
Just don’t be surprised when, instead of lousy chicken broth, your wandering appetite desires dumplings. They are the ultimate comfort food.
Dumpling 10053 is located at 10053 Valley Blvd. #2 in El Monte. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. Call (626) 350-0188 for more information.