The search for elusive $1 food brought me to Chinatown last week to decide, once and for all (or for that day at least), who has the best deal on fried dumplings. My first stop: Columbus Park.
The woman at Fried Dumpling (106 Mosco St., Manhattan—map) didn’t exactly make me feel at home. When I asked for an order of dumplings, she grabbed a handful, stuffed them in a container and said, “Two dollars.” I pointed out that the sign on the window said $1, and she said, “No, two dollars.” We went back and forth like that for a while, until she opened the carton and pulled out two of the dumplings, then handed the rest to me, snatched my one dollar and waved me out of the store. When I sat down to enjoy my quarry, I found that it wasn’t worth the hassle. I did end up with five dumplings as advertised, but they were thin as string beans with very little meat inside. The wrappers were chewy rather than crispy, and the interior was dry.
I left my park bench and headed to Tasty Dumpling (54 Mulberry St., Manhattan—map). Tasty had a few tables and many more customers, but there was an immediate downside. An order of dumplings cost (gasp) $1.25, $1.35 with tax. I sucked it up for the sake of research. They served me my dumplings quickly and with a smile, and they were decidedly tastier. They were stuffed with more, and juicier, pork and chive. The wrappers were crispy, if a little over-fried. There was a bit of residue from the deep-fryer lingering on the exterior, which hurt the appearance of the dumplings more than the taste.
Conclusion: Pay the extra 35 cents. I know, it hurts, and it’s not technically Tuck for a Buck, but it’s worth it for the attitude if not for the significant advantage in taste.