I usually like variety, but sometimes, you want just one thing, done perfectly. And Qingdao Garden, a northern-style Chinese restaurant in North Cambridge, does handmade steamed dumplings perfectly.
I was in the mood to celebrate. My companion and I strode into Qingdao Garden and ordered 48 dumplings. The waitress laughed at us, but we were unashamed. Behold the glorious bounty:
We managed some diversity in our all-dumpling diet by trying four different fillings. Here’s the rundown:
- Pork and cabbage: Juicy pork and tender cabbage make for classic simplicity.
- Pork and leek: If forced to choose one of the pork fillings, I preferred the sweetness of the cabbage to the harsher onion flavor of the pork and leek. But I’d happily eat a passel of either. Also, for the precise among you, these “leeks” seem to actually be scallions or possibly Chinese chives.
- Green bean (vegetarian): I’d never heard of a green bean dumpling before, but it turned out to be a mixture of minced green beans, finely chopped thin rice noodles, and a hint of ginger. Delicious and unique. Excellent way to get your vegetables!
- Three treasures: I believe the three treasures are pork, shrimp, and Chinese chives. The shrimp flavor was inconsistent. Some dumplings had a lovely big chunk of shrimp inside, while others were less distinguishable from a plain pork (which, let’s face it, is still very tasty).
Each dumpling encases a nice bite of filling and a drizzle of rich broth that keeps everything juicy. The skins were substantial, toothsome and doughy. No tearing, no stickiness, no sogginess. What’s more, they’re cheap. $5.95 gets you 12(!!) smallish, but plump and delectable bundles. I was tempted to try some of the other fillings – Qingdao offers 7 types – but I sadly ran out of intestinal real estate. And that’s not even mentioning the 200+ non-dumpling delights they serve. Guess we’ll have to go back with a bigger group.
The only hilariously imperfect element of Qingdao Garden is its fortune cookie supplier. One cookie’s fortune was missing entirely. The other one…well…see for yourself.
2382 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140