- 1828 West 11th Street, Wilmington, DE, 19805
- Overall User Rating:
- (29 ratings)
- Tue.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
- Official Web Site:
When chef Eileen Chao came to our table on one of her regular rounds of the dining room of The Dumpling House and saw a small pile of mushrooms left on one of our plates, she was worried that she didn't accommodate us. Were the mushrooms bad? Or did we just not like mushrooms? If we didn't like mushrooms, why didn't we just order the dish without mushrooms? She'd be happy to make it however we wanted it.
That care for her food, and her customers, is evident in every dish our group tried at lunch at this little gem, tucked on 11th Street just off of Lincoln Street, in Wilmington.
My group of diners arrived at the restaurant famished, and pounced on the first thing to arrive at the table, the scallion pancake ($1.95). The pancake was crisp on the outside, tender inside with a flavor of scallion that wasn't overwhelming. The crispy five-spice chicken ($3.95) disappeared so quickly, we barely got my fork on a piece of the thin chicken, seasoned with five-spice and fresh herbs, then fried until it's crispy, but not greasy.
We expected to get good dumplings at a place called The Dumpling House, and we weren't disappointed. The house dumplings ($4.95 for an order of four boiled, $5.95 for an order of four, pan-fried) are filled with a blend of pork, shrimp, veggies and traditional seasoning. We got them boiled, and the dough was soft, not gummy.
The chicken dumplings, we ordered pan-fried. The crisp exterior gave way to a tender dough, and a filling that was unexpectedly spiced with curry, for an exciting change.
Our group ordered both the chicken and the beef fried rice ($10.95 each), expecting them to be the same except for the beef in one and chicken in the other. Instead, the two dishes were seasoned completely differently, with traditional seasonings providing an expected flavor to the chicken fried rice, while cilantro and pepper gave the beef fried rice a fresh and welcome reinvention. There were so many fresh herbs in the various dishes, we spent a good deal of our time playing a game of "name that taste I can't quite place."
Like the fried rice dishes, the fried noodles ($13.95) were filled with fresh mushrooms, and colorful bell peppers that still had their crunch. In a lunch this good, it's unusual to find one dish that stands out, but that's exactly what the spicy eggplant ($15.95) did.
Chunks of eggplant were deep-fried, tossed in a garlic sauce, and served with huge, fresh sliced jalapenos that Eileen grows herself. With each bite, the crisp outside dissolved to give way to a chunk of eggplant that almost melted in your mouth, and then the heat of the jalapeno kicked in, jump-starting the party in my mouth. Next time, we might even order it a little bit spicier. Because Eileen just wants her diners to be happy.
Make a reservation
If you are planning on eating at the Dumpling House, call and make a reservation. It's small, and as word gets out, you'll likely need a reservation to guarantee yourself a table. We suggest asking for the booth next to the front window.
Take your vegetarian friends
This is one of the most veggie-friendly restaurants we've been to for quite some time, so whether you're just looking to cut some red meat out of your diet or have a veggie friend, this is a good spot.