1. Shrimp with Chinese Chive Dumplings at Cafe 88. In our article on Zocalo, co-owner Andrew Silver quipped that the three keys to a restaurant’s success are “location, location, location.” This may explain why the dumplings at Marco and Luca enjoy such an enormous following while those at Cafe 88 remain a bit of a secret. Marco and Luca has a prime location on the Downtown Mall (among other locations) with constant pedestrian traffic. Cafe 88 is off the beaten path in the back corner of the strip mall at Preston Plaza, barely visible from the street. Don’t get us wrong. We enjoy the dumplings at Marco and Luca. But, the handmade dumplings at Cafe 88, filled with their own mixture of shrimp and chives, are outstanding. If you’ve got $5, you can see for yourself.
2. Pork and Leek Bing at Song Song’s Zhou & Bing. We cannot claim to be experts on bing, which the menu of Song Song’s Zhou & Bing describes as “wheat flour based Chinese foods with a flattened or disk-like shape.” But, we know what we like, and we sure like the pork and leek bing at Song Song’s Zhou & Bing. Our prior Bing experience is not extensive, but does include some with cult followings in New York. And, the pork and leek bing at Song Song’s rivals the best we have tried. Like a flat round dumpling, the bing is cooked to order from house-made dough and stuffed with lightly seasoned pork and leeks. Crispy on the outside with a pleasantly chewy interior. $2.50 each.