I never eat in Chinatown. I’m in that neighbourhood a lot, but I just never do. I think that the truth is that I don’t really like Chinese food. I know: *gasp* *shock*. Doesn’t everyone like Chinese food? I like it just fine, but I don’t love it. I grew up in a small town where the only “ethnic” food we had was Chinese food and one Greek restaurant. Those are the two cuisines that I eat the least now that I live in Toronot. There are so many other amazing types of cuisine here that Chinese never really gets high enough on my “must eat it NOW” list.
So when my friend Nadine was visiting from Austin, TX and she wanted to have lunch before we headed into Kensington Market for an afternoon of vintage shopping, I was a bit stumped. We were in Chinatown, after all, and she wanted to try some Chinese food. So where to go? Then I remembered that bright red sign for Mother’s Dumplings and decided to give it a try.
The menu at Mother’s Dumplings is 75% dumplings. There’s little else on the menu to entice you, and that’s quite alright. You don’t need anything else. You don’t want anything else! The dumplings here are so delicious that it would be silly to fill your stomach with anything else.
They make all of the dumplings here by hand. You can see into their kitchen through a window that they’ve set up (I love that they just have a regular residental fridge). It looks like this woman is making our pork and chive dumplings, or maybe the pork and bak choy? There were about 5 of them in the kitchen, all working on different types of dumplings. The fact that the dumplings are made fresh makes a huge difference in their taste and texture. The texture of the dough is so much nicer here than it is at places where they use frozen dumplings. You can’t even compare!
Our first dumplings were the pan fried pork and bak choy. When these arrived we knew that we were in for a good meal. They had a little bit of sauce on the inside that dripped out onto our plates when we bit into them. We mopped it up with the rest of the dumpling and made lots of enthusiastic exclaimations about how great they tasted. The bok choy wasn’t really very obvious and I would have liked it if there were more of it, but who could complain about juicy pork?
The steamed pork and chive dumplings were just as good, with just as much flavour and a little bit of saucy goodness sealed in. I had started out with a dish of soy sauce and chili sauce for dipping, but I found that once I tasted the dumplings there was little need for it. These didn’t need any flavour enhancements.
The last basket to arrive was full of these little beauties: Lamb sui mai. They were my favourites. The dough was different – It probably had more egg in it than the other ones. The result was a really soft, slightly chewy dough that held a moist flavourful lamb. The lamb definitely had a slight gamey taste to it, but I didn’t mind that at all. I like my lamb gamey.
For two of us to eat until we were stuffed it was a little more than $25, plus tip. This is a great place to go for lunch and I can’t wait for the next time I find myself in Chinatown at lunch time.
421 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M5T 2A8