The storefront sign reads Ping’s Food Mart, but locals now come for steamed dumplings. Six months ago, the store’s owners shuttered half of the grocery shelves and plopped down some dining tables to start Ping’s Dumpling House. So don’t be surprised if you see an occasional grandma with a grocery basket of vermicelli noodles and veggies lining up by the cash register while folks slurp on soup dumplings a table away.
The menu: The lineup includes stir-fry dishes and noodles ($6.50 to $8) with meat skewers and other street-food noshes ($2). But Ping’s Dumpling House focuses on its namesake, an extensive list of doughy, steamed morsels stuffed with some combination of pork, lamb, beef and veggies ($5 to $8). Soup dumplings are now served daily, not just on weekends.
What to write home about: The addicting crispy Green Onion Flatbread ($1.99) is the way to start. It’s a bit greasy, but this is Qingdao style street food. Your healthy dose comes after: plates of steamed dumplings. Most popular are the pork-and-chive dumplings (12 for $5), redolent of aromatic chives with steam rising from the chewy shell. Better, though, are the lamb variation, stuffed with carrot and green onions (12 for $6.99), the gamey morsels cut nicely with the vinegar-soy dipping sauce.
What to skip: Five years ago, we would have been content with a bamboo basket of the pork soup dumplings (10 for $7.99). But Din Tai Fung and a handful of newcomers have raised the bar. The soup dumplings here lack a hearty broth, and their fragile shells break apart easily. There’s no wok-smoke flavor in the stir-fry pork ($7.99 with rice) that’s drowning in soy sauce.
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The setting: It’s like a mini food court, only more charming. The few workers hustle from kitchen to the front to serve the lunch crowd and to the aisles to greet grocery customers.
Summing up: A flatbread appetizer, 32 dumplings and a stir-fry dish with rice totaled $33, enough to feed two to three. It’s nothing fancy, more your typical Chinatown haunt, where the comfort food is cheap and plentiful.
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle