For those of you who haven’t tried Dumpling Inn in San Diego, you’re in for a real treat! My office used to be a few minutes away from this quaint hidden gem and we would frequent here for lunch on a weekly basis. It’s been nearly 8 years since first coming here and there doesn’t seem to be any new competition in sight (in San Diego that is).
As you’ll quickly find out, their small restaurant gets packed quickly. They do not take reservations (except for big groups). Putting your name on their waitlist is easy. Just walk in, look for the clipboard, and pencil yourself in. From there, the wait begins. I assure you though, the wait is well worth it!
Once you take your seat, you’ll notice a handful of condiments on the table.
Start with a small spoon of chili oil, add equal parts soy sauce and clear vinegar, and top it off with a dash of sesame oil. Voila! The perfect dipping sauce for your dumplings. Now on to the good stuff…
I’ll start with my favorite. These special dumplings are steamed with LOVE! In fact, there is a wonderful surprise inside for the unintiated. Soup! Yep, these are know as soup dumplings, or XLB (short for Xiaolongbao). To find them on the menu, look for “Steamed Pork Buns”, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try ordering them in Chinese. Since Xiaolongbao is a bit deceiving on how it’s pronouced, I’m going to give you the Gringo way to saying it… shh-ow-lum-bow. That’s it! Okay, so that’s probably incredibly wrong since it missed all the tones and accents, but I’m guessing they’ll know what you want.WARNING: When these first come out, don’t burn yourself! These are piping hot, but you have proceed with caution. A good trick is to ask in advance for a soup spoon. This will help to catch the leaking soupy goodness if you’re a little shaky with the chopsticks. A quick dip in the sauce is all you need to find dumpling bliss.Dumpling Inn also sells these frozen for about $.50 a piece and you can steam these at home if you wish. My only criticism is that they occasionally overcook the dumplings, or place them too close to each other causing premature rips of the outer bun (worse thing is the soup is lost!). Inconsistent or not, if you’re looking for XLB in San Diego, Dumpling Inn is the place to come.
Next up are the potstickers. These are pan fried dumplings that are carmelized on the bottom. Although these don’t have a soup element like the XLB, the meat inside is quite juicy and flavorful. As you can see I’m partial to the XLB, but these come in a close second place. Another quick dip into the sauce will make send your epicurious taste buds into overdrive.
Potsticker close up (aka. Wo-tee)
Next up, you’ll find a different kind of dumpling. These are the curry beef dumplings. They are packed with a lot of flavor! In fact, you don’t even need to dip these in your sauce since the filling inside these are already salty with wonderful a curry spice. A quick note on this one is that some people love these, and other’s don’t really care for it. I say try it once and decide for yourself.
A final fan favorite has to be the chicken pan fried noodles. It’s a simple but effective combination of chow mein noodles tossed with chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots. The crispy noodles with the gravy give it a balanced texture to match the robust flavors.
Anyhow, the next time you’re craving Chinese food and dumplings, you’ve gotta check this place out. Dumpling Inn is small in size, but HUGE in flavor. Trust me… the XLB are to die for! Oh yeah, their parking can be a little tight, but you can usually score some street parking if required. Just don’t park in the spaces reserved for the Korean Market. They might just tow you. Happy eating!
4619 Convoy St # F
San Diego, CA 92111
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SanDiegoFood.net is designed to chronicle our journey of San Diego Food. We have lived in San Diego for more than 15 years and love finding new restaurants and food to try. We hope this web blog can help give you a little insight, especially if you're new or visiting from San Diego.