As you enter, things don't get that much better. For the most part, it's clean - but we're talking about plastic chairs and a layout typical of a Chinese takeout joint. But that's OK - because it's all about the dumplings here.
They are handmade - Shanghai style - also known as Xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings.
Not to mention - they're incredibly affordable - I got all this for $17! Just a note though, they don't take credit cards unless your order is at least $20.
Shanghai Steamed Pork Juicy Buns ($4.50)
These are clearly the star. A gossamer thin wrapper surrounds juicy pork and a broth that envelops your mouth (or your plate if you're not careful!) as soon as you bite in.
What a revelation - a savory, yet sweet broth fills your mouth along with juicy pork. How good are they exactly? As soon as I was finished them, I wanted to go back for more. I thought about them the next day. These are all signs that I've found something worth repeating.
Napa and Pork Pan Fried Dumplings ($5.75)
I had to try some pan fried dumplings as well. These were slightly greasy, yet delicious. The dumpling is gluttonous, filled with juicy pork and Napa cabbage.
Mapo Tofu ($5.50)
I saw mapo tofu on the menu and knew I had to get one of my favorite dishes. They provided the tofu sauce and rice separately when asked, which was appreciated. This was certainly one of the spicier iterations I've tried. The chilies are moderated by the fresh tofu and scallions, with the ginger coming through on the finish.
The tofu used here is a bit more toothsome (brick tofu perhaps?) than the ones I'm used to at Korean-Chinese restaurants, which are silken. Still, this was a hearty dish and delicious. Beware of the spice though - the heat fills the inside of your mouth and lingers on the tip of your tongue.
It's easy to see why Iron Chef Jose Garces brings his family here and considers this his favorite place for dumplings. In fact, he sources a few items for his newly opened Yuboka at the Revel Casino! The food is delicious, yet simple and humble. It's uncomplicated, yet unique. And better yet - it's incredibly affordable! You'd be completely remiss if you didn't check out what's right behind RTM.