My mother-in-law has had a healthy addiction to dumplings ever since we spotted them on the streets of Xian while touring China in the 90s. Yes, Seattle and Xian are several Great Walls apart culturally but I figured we could get her a dumpling fix at the dumpling house, Dough Zone, near the Crossroads Mall in Bellevue WA. My family left very impressed and our belts were a little more snug by the end of the evening.
Determined to bite into our dumplings quickly after being seated, we filled out our order on the restaurant’s menu during our 30 minute wait outside. Warning: if you come during regular dinner hours and weekends, be prepared to check emails and pass the time with your smartphone during the long wait.
We started with youtiao, Chinese bread sticks fried to a delicate crispiness. They were done just right, slightly crispy and not at all greasy. Unfortunately, we wanted to have congee for dipping our youtiao but they were all sold out for the day.
The dumpling barrage started as soon as the breadsticks were devoured. The first dumplings were wontons in spicy sauce. They were wonderful, firm meaty wontons coated with a tangy, spicy sauce.
Meat potstickers were next to arrive and they did not disappoint. The flavorful meat filling and the crispy brown bottoms provided a great contrast in textures.
We knew that the best was yet to come when we spotted large hot bamboo steamers approaching the table. The first one was filled with steamed pork dumplings. They disappeared quickly after being smothered in a mixture of soy sauce and chili peppers.
And then the grand dumpling finale – xiao long bao. These petite juicy pork soup dumplings come 10 to an order. After savoring the first one, you realize why they are served in groups of 10. Few people have the will power to eat less than 10 of these tasty morsels!
All in all, the Dough Zone was a great place to reminisce about the savory street food we experienced many years ago in Xian, one of the most interesting regions in China. Good food, even better memories.