My love of Chinese food goes all the way back to early childhood. When I was a little girl we used to eat with my grandparents at a place called South Pacific in Newton, MA. I have such happy memories of all of us sitting around a big table, passing plates and stuffing our faces. At the end of the meal, when the check would arrive, my grandfather would grab all the fortune cookies. He would open them one at a time and read a single fortune to each person. Somehow they all managed to say things like, "You will hug your grandfather every time you see him."
As an adult, I grew to love the scallion pancakes and tofu with broccoli and garlic sauce at Jumbo Seafood in Newton, and then I began an intense love affair with Wagamama in Faneuil Hall. Their dumplings, yaki soba and ramen warm me from the inside out.
When a friend texted me to say she had uncovered a new Chinese place in Weston, I was immediately interested in planning a trip. Though Weston isn't considered a dining hot spot, her rave review made it feel worth driving outside of our usual routes.
The restaurant is called Dumpling Daughter and it's located in a strip mall. You can't see it from the street, so you definitely have to know about it.
Due to its strip mall location, parking is very easy (and free!).
The restaurant is owned by Nadia Liu Spellman, daughter of Sally Ling and Edward Nan Liu, who used to run Sally Liang's in Boston. The name "Dumpling Daughter" is a nod to her family's history in the restaurant business.
As you walk toward the front door, you're greeted by a chalkboard menu. Since Dumpling Daughter is still so new, they are currently listing their offerings, rather than any particular specials.
Once inside, you peruse the menu and place your order at the counter. Their speciality, dumplings, are listed front and center and in larger font that all the other items. You can't miss 'em!
After you place your order, you are handed a number to bring to your table. Once the food is ready, it's brought right to you.
While you wait, you can watch the Dumpling Daughter team make the food in the open kitchen.
There is plenty of seating. While we were there we saw lots of families with young children, as well as people out for a quiet evening, just the grownups.
We were seated at a table along the bookshelf which showcases some of their press, as well as houses cookbooks and books for kids (I spotted "The Lorax" right away).
The first of our dishes to arrive was the mixed vegetable dumplings. Immediately I noticed their soft green shell. Dumplings typically have a white-ish casing, so this was a fun change.
The dumplings were delicious. They tasted even better after going for a swim in the salty soy sauce. We shared this dish, but I could have easily eaten all of them myself.
We also split an order of the vegetable spring rolls, which is a family recipe from Sally Ling's. These were fantastic. They had a nice crisp to the outside, without tasting greasy from the frying. They were stuffed with crisp veggies and tasted nice and rich when topped with some duck sauce.
For dinner, we both decided on ramen. At the counter, you can grab a pair of chopsticks, wrapped in Dumpling Daughter's adorable logo.
My dinner date went with the three day pork ramen. It was a large portion of pork belly, a soft egg, pork broth, ramen noodles, bamboo, red pickled ginger, kombu seaweed and scallions.
She said, "Look at this! The pork falls apart with just the touch of this spoon."
When I asked how she'd describe the dish, she explained, "The broth is smoky. The pork really gives it that flavor. If you don't like a strong meat flavor to your food, this would not be the dish for you."
I opted for the vegetable ramen, which was a vegetarian broth with ramen noodles, cucumber, carrots, bamboo, tomato and kombu seaweed.
For me, this dish was a disappointment. The broth was pretty flavorless and for some reason the tomatoes and cucumbers really felt out of place here. Almost like salad leftovers were wiped off a cutting board and into this dish. I really love the veggie ramen at Wagamama and this just couldn't compete.
As we were wrapping up, we noticed that the Dumpling Daughter team seemed to be cleaning up. Apparently they close at 8:00pm! Ahhh, suburban life.
Before scooting, I was seriously tempted to buy one of Dumpling Daughter's lipstick red coffee mugs. I am obsessed with their logo. I kind of feel it looks like if the Pop.Bop.Shop. girl was a dumpling!
I could so easily see myself curled up on the couch, under my fleece blanket, sipping hot cocoa from this mug.
If you are a meat eater, it's definitely worth the drive to Weston to experience the three day pork ramen. Be sure to also order the veggie spring rolls. If you like bubble tea, they have over a dozen flavors.
Visit Dumpling Daughter at 37 Center Street, Weston, MA 02493.