Hui Tou Xiang Part 2: The Self-Titled Dumpling

Part 1 of Hui Tou Xiang can be found here

I went back to Hui Tou Xiang for lunch today to try their self-titled dumpling. You could say that I hui tou-ed before even trying their hui tou dumpling. Was it worth the return trip? Yes, yes it was.

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These pan fried rectangular pork dumplings, known as hui tou zhu rou, came out innocently, not steaming, not sizzling, and with no hint of the inferno inside.  Yes boys and girls, the filling is hot. It’s hot and juicy and will likely squirt an oily broth down your shirt.  Better double-up that napkin bib.  The filling was tender and flavorful with a savory pork taste complimented by a slight crunch of onion. It took me a while to put my finger on it, but the filling tastes like a refined version of a White Castle hamburger with its grilled onions cooked directly in the patty.

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My fearless (unless in the face of meat) dining companion ordered a special that was advertised in a plastic stand on the table: cold sesame noodles.  Cold sesame noodles never excite me, but these were pretty good.  The noodles were the flat wheat noodle kind and cooked perfectly.  The sauce came out separately: a dish of soy sauce, a dish of soy & garlic sauce, and a dish of sesame paste.  You were free to mix them in any ratio you wanted. The lao ban niang even offered white vinegar to make the dish more vinegary if you so choose.

While I was eating lunch, I mentally laughed at the line of people outside waiting for a table at Luscious Dumplings.  Then I felt bad because here I was eating dumplings that were just as good, if not better, and these poor ignorant people didn’t know any better. I saw a few potential customers looking at the menu pasted outside, but none came in.  Oh well, their loss.

 

Hui Tou Xiang Noodle House
704 W Las Tunas Dr
Ste 5
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 281-9888

Hui Tou Xiang

Part 2 of Hui Tou Xiang, where I actually eat the Hui Tou dumplings can be found here

Living in the Chinese food mecca that is San Gabriel tends to make you jaded to some things.  “Oh, another restaurant that has dumplings and xiao long bao? Been there, done that.”  At least, that’s what I thought the first time I got wind of Hui Tou Xiang, a dumpling and noodle restaurant near my house.  They must have opened next to Luscious Dumplings thinking they could grab up some of the people waiting in line for the dumplings at Luscious. For those people waiting out in the sun for a table at Luscious Dumpling: You’re missing out if you’re not eating at this restaurant next door.

Hui Tou Xiang’s signature dish is the hui tou pan fried dumpling which looked like a rectangular gyoza with an almost bready skin.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get it the first time I got there because I was lured away by the crab xiao long baos.  The waiter assured me that they made them in house, so I ordered a steamer of these soupy dumplings.

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While waiting for the dumplings, the lao ban niang brought out a complementary dish of northern-style kimchi and sweet and sour soup. The sweet and sour soup was actually not bad — its tangy flavor went well with the warming back-of-the-throat spice of white pepper. The slivers of wood ear mushroom and egg drops lent some texture diversity to each slurp of soup.  The spicy cabbage kimchi was surprisingly sweet, but still delicious and pungent.

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The xiao long bao arrived in all its steaming glory and I was glad to see none had broken open during transit.  I poured vinegar into a boat full of slivered ginger and had my first bite.  It was wonderful. The juice was hot and savory and just shy of “burn a hole in my mouth” hot.  There was lots of crab meat inside as well as flavorful pork.  The wrapper was the perfect thickness because it was substantial enough to hold the juice but thin enough not to overwhelm the flavor of the filling. It was probably the best xiao long bao I’d had in a long time.

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Luckily for will, there is a handful of vegetarian options on the menu. He ordered the tofu-skin appetizer, which was layers of tofu skin pressed together and then braised in a sweet-ish soy sauce liquid.  It was refreshing, especially with a leaf or two of cilantro.

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Hui Tou Xiang also offers steamed vegetarian dumplings, which were pretty good. The wrapper was nice and chewy and while the filling was a bit under-salted, the rest of the flavor was good.

I will definitely hui tou to try the restaurant’s hui tou pan fried dumpling. (Get it? Because hui tou also means return.)

Hui Tou Xiang Noodle House
704 W Las Tunas Dr
Ste 5
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 281-9888

New Year Money Bags

For New Years Eve, Will and I went to my parents and cooked dinner. His contribution was a traditional New Years dumpling called money bags. Here’s what he has to say about it:

I just got this cookbook for Christmas, and decided to adapt this recipe (which usually is made with pork) for dinner, in honor of the New Year. I omitted the shrimp, replaced the pork with wheat gluten, and added some extra oil and seasoning to replace the salt and fat that would otherwise be in the filling. The recipe called for 3 cups of sweet-potato starch, which I think must be a typo.

New Year Money Bags (Jin Yuan Bao)?

Adapted from Cooking From China’s Fujian Province by Jacqueline M. Newman.

Ingredients:

8 dried Chinese style shittake mushrooms, soaked stems down, stems removed.
8 oz wheat gluten or other meat substitute (I used ‘mian chang’ — wheat gluten intestine, and mine was made with some soy as well).
4 scallions, green and white parts
4 cloves garlic, or 2 cloves of garlic and 2 stalks fresh garlic if available
4 slices fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 C fresh cilantro, with some stems, washed and dried
salted mustard stem or other salted Chinese vegetable
4 tsp regular soy sauce
4 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp vegetable oil
4 tsp Fujian / Fukien rice wine (probably can substitute Shaoxing if not available)
pinch or two of salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
pinch vegetarian bouillon or seasoning (optional)
3 Tbsp sweet-potato flour (note: this is not the same as potato flour / potato starch, though you could probably sub potato starch or cornstarch)
1 package square wonton wrappers (eggless if you’re trying to make vegan)
1 egg, beaten, ener-g egg replacer or corn / potato starch mixed with water vegetable oil, for frying.

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Directions:

Wring out the wheat gluten and shittakes so that they’ll soak up as much of the liquids as possible.

Finely mince the mushrooms, wheat gluten, scallions, garlic / fresh garlic stalks, ginger, and cilantro. Chop the salted vegetable a little more coarsely. Mix together.

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Mix the wet ingredients along with the salt, white pepper, and vegetarian boullion or seasoning.

Add the sweet-potato flour and wet ingredients to the mushroom / wheat gluten mixture, and combine. Let set for a little for the liquid ingredients to get absorbed.

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The recipe’s directions for folding the pouches are pretty unhelpful. I mostly just followed my father-in-law, but this is one of those times where a picture is worth 1000 words. Basically like a normal wonton, but you try not to leave much space in the middle, and you push the points down and square off the ends to try and form roughly an “ingot” shape. Use the egg or water / starch slurry to seal.

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Deep-fry in vegetable oil until golden and crispy, and let drain on a rack. Serve with any kind of dipping sauce (we had a simple sauce with lemon, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sugar, but I bet a thick sweet / sour type sauce or Chinese mustard would be good too).

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