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Vanessa's Dumplings

118A Eldridge Street, New York , NY - (212) 625-8008
Posted By Bill Homan on 12/12/2011 5:05:00 AM
My friend Ian Zaretsky, who first introduced me to Roadfood, is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to good eats in NYC. If he tells me to check out a place, I listen and listen good! So when he told me about Vanessa's Dumplings I made sure it was on my short list. Countless trips later, it is still my "go-to" spot for dumplings and a must visit when I have friends in from out of town.

It's tucked away on a side street on the Lower East Side and has been packed almost every time I have been there. On any given night musicians from area bars, hipsters, neighborhood locals, tourists, college students, and just about anyone else can be found slurping down some good soup, drinking bubble tea, tearing into a sesame pancake, or tucking into a plate of boiled and/or fried dumplings.

Sometimes I can find a table. Other times I stand at a little shelf by the front window and dig into my feast. I've even been known to set up shop on the trash bins outside and dine al fresco.

My standard meal is two orders of fried pork and chive dumplings, a sesame pancake, and an almond bubble tea. There is a controlled chaos to Vanessa's and some may find it a bit overwhelming but I love it. Wait in the longish line, watch the ladies in the back through the window as they make the dumplings, place your order, and pay at the counter. The woman will give you a receipt with your number on it. Listen closely as English is not the primary language spoken here and sometimes it can be difficult to tell when your number is called.

The sesame pancake resembles a slice of pizza and is a gloriously greasy multi-napkin affair. Coated with nutty sesame seeds and studded throughout with scallions, it makes for a great side to the soups, and serves as a base for a variety of sandwiches. The fried pork and chive dumplings are four for a dollar and what a delicious bargain they are: ginger-scented ground pork and scallions enveloped by a dough that is soft on one side, browned and crispy on the other. I like to coat them in soy sauce and Sriracha chili sauce for a salty/spicy mix that wakes up my taste buds. The creamy bubble tea is a nice cooling palate pleaser. The tapioca pearls offer an interesting textural change from the norm for me.

Vanessa's also offers frozen dumplings to go for those who are industrious enough to cook them at home. 50 pork and chive dumplings for $9.00 is quite a steal. There are many inexpensive dumpling houses on the Lower East Side, and in Chinatown, that are quite good, but Vanessa's has got me hooked.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Dumplings
Sesame Pancake
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Fried pork and chive dumplings these have been my go-to dish at Vanessa's for some time.
"Fried pork and chive dumplings these have been my go-to dish at Vanessa's for some time."
Bill Homan





This slice of chewy, nutty goodness will only set you back 75 cents.
"This slice of chewy, nutty goodness will only set you back 75 cents."
Bill Homan


Boiled vegetable dumplings: a satisfying alternative for those times when I need to eat some healthy Roadfood.
"Boiled vegetable dumplings: a satisfying alternative for those times when I need to eat some healthy Roadfood."
Bill Homan


Like the best-tasting, greasiest focaccia bread ever!
"Like the best-tasting, greasiest focaccia bread ever!"
Bill Homan


When there is no room inside the restaurant I sometimes take to dining 'al fresco' right out front.
"When there is no room inside the restaurant I sometimes take to dining 'al fresco' right out front."
Bill Homan


Handmade dumplings every day.
"Handmade dumplings every day."
Bill Homan


The lines can get pretty long but the controlled chaos behind the counter keeps things moving fairly smoothly.
"The lines can get pretty long but the controlled chaos behind the counter keeps things moving fairly smoothly."
Bill Homan


The Vanessa's backstory.  Click on the photo to read.
"The Vanessa's backstory. Click on the photo to read."
Bill Homan


I live just a few subway stops away from a very cheap, good-tasting, and filling meal.
"I live just a few subway stops away from a very cheap, good-tasting, and filling meal."
Bill Homan



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