A Dumpling House to finally rival my beloved Din Tai Fung. Now, if only they’d get the Carolers out of there.
What you just read (above) is no lie.
I’m inside Luscious Dumplings in the San Gabriel Valley. I’ve got my seat. I’ve managed to juuuuuuust beat the lunch rush inside. I’ve handed in my form and I’m waiting for my dumplings to magically arrive. I’m sitting in the restaurant, with anxious anticipation. I can smell those Dumplings coming from the kitchen just ten feet from me…
…and that’s when the Carolers arrive.
Yeah, it’s Christmas Time as I’m reporting and writing this. And…well…I’m not sure what the deal is, but for some reason either the Owner or the Waitstaff allowed these folks (two woman and a male guitarist) to come into the restaurant and belt out two Christmas songs: We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad, all while schilling for some Children’s Charity I’ve never heard of.
I’m just here for my dumplings, yo.
And what dumplings they are.
I am a big fan of Din Tai Fung. It is the place that first introduced me to the sheer unparalleled joy of dumplings. I still love that place and what they serve me.
Man, oh man…
Luscious Dumplings may not give them a run for their money, they may have won the damn race.
It’s not the hippest, sleekest place on the block (sharing the plaza with Vietnam House – review coming soon). So let’s be honest, you’re coming here for some of the best tasting dumpling you’ve had in a while.
Man, what is about L.A.? True dining gems are always hidden away, off the beaten path.
Anyway, the rule book for Luscious Dumplings is simple. You walk in and see if there’s a table. Odds are, there won’t be, and you might find yourself waiting outside for a bit until one comes available. It’s kinda like Golden Deli in that regard, but that’s kind of the thing you have to get used in the San Gabriel Valley.
After that, your Dumplings come and…and…bliss.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Dumplings, and as many as you can eat.
In my case, I started simply, with the Pan Fried Pork Dumplings. Best I’ve ever had. They’re not full-on Xiaolongbao, in the sense that they’re not soup dumplings. You’re not sucking out a sip of soup in every one. You still bite into them carefully to break up the heat bubble that’s been building during cooking, but after that: ambrosia.
I almost can’t describe it (a bad sign for a food writer). As much as I love me some dumplings, the dumpling shells themselves are a fairly dull affair, hiding away a magical treat of the meat at the heart of the creation. But there, the dumpling is actually a bit flavorful, a smoky infusion of the pan and the marinade (?). Either way, it was really delicious.
Again, this is my saying the best I’ve ever had. I’ve been around the San Gabriel Valley a lot, I’ve tried a lot of Dumplings, just not as many as the local. These were amazingly good, at least to little ol’ me. This might become a regular haunt.
I also availed myself of the Pan Fried Chive Pockets with Pork, Egg and Glass Noodle. Also good, but I was still too carried away by those Pan Fried Pork Dumplings.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: So, first things first. It’s cash only establishment, so leave your plastic at home.
Right. What was I saying. It’s probably better you just leave it in your wallet.
Go in knowing that the restaurant is small, and that you might be waiting a bit to get in. Not long. It’s a proud Shanghainese tradition to get you in, get you fed, and get you out. Count on a similar level of service here at Luscious Dumplings.
Like with Vietnam House (which is a neighboring restaurant), it a part of this pink-coralish Commercial complex just off Las Tunas. Most of the businesses based in that complex are…well…a bit hard to see from the street. Luscious Dumplings is no exception.
PARKING: Free. You just gotta wander through the Labyrinth and find a space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be right up next to the restaurant (added to the fact you may not be able to pull it off — Luscious is pretty popular). Just find a space, and walk over to the restaurant. It sits at just about the center of the complex.
704 W. Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 282-8695
Tuesday-Saturday: 11:00am – 2:00pm / 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 2:00pm