Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon

Xiaolongbao
A before and after picture of the xiaolongbao (Dumpling Inn vs. Dumpling Inn + Shanghai Saloon). To be fair, the lighting in the new restaurant is terrible.

Rating: Two sideways thumbs
Date: 10/9/2015
Time in: 12:05 PM
Time out: 1:17 PM
Servers’ recommendations: Mule in a china shop (cocktail).  (We didn’t ask for food recommendations because we wanted to see how our favorite dishes compared to the old location.)
What we ordered: Cold vegetable plate, sliced stewed bean curd, vegetable chow mein with homemade noodle, stewed egg, sautéed greens, xiaolongbao, mapo tofu, honey shrimp, black bean and sea bass, fish and chive dumplings, vegetable dumplings

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Number in our party: 6 (with Beston, Andrew, Kris, Dave)
Final check amount: $132.90
Price per person: $22.15

A MOURNFUL FAREWELL TO OUR BELOVED DUMPLING INN

We’d had our doubts from the moment we read this article, informing us that Dumpling Inn was to “relocate and join new craft beer concept.”  Cringey face.  Was this yet another sign of Convoy’s transformation from a low-key holes-in-the-wall neighborhood into hipster central?

Jenne and I are obviously die-hard fans of the old Dumpling Inn.  It was our favorite before we started this project and remained so after we had tried 80 restaurants along Convoy.  We didn’t love it just for the food, but the unusual combination of coziness and businessy briskness that was probably the product of the tiny no-frills space.  And they let you bring your own drinks!  There was such a feeling of contentment as I sat with my young coconut juice from The Fruit Shop, waiting in line for my plate of xiaolongbao.

Convoy Day 10
On Convoy Day 2014.

Shanghai Saloon is just not our scene.  It’s dimly lit and fancy, with a sports bar.  (Ugh, sports.)  All this would be forgivable, perhaps, if the food had stayed the same.  I’ve heard friends declare that it is, but I have to disagree.  Example: xiaolongbao, their greatest dish, used to be steamed with cabbage lining underneath.  Now it’s in a plain metal basket, the same as anywhere else.  Not a big deal, you might say.  Well, it just doesn’t taste the same either, and I suspect it’s because they changed the recipe — peanut sauce is now listed as an ingredient in the filling, giving the xiaolongbao a sweeter flavor.  But the real indicator is that we didn’t get the indescribable “happy stomach feeling” that we would get after a meal at the previous location.

The food isn’t terrible, of course.  If someone wanted to have their birthday dinner here, we would still come and eat.  Maybe we would think it was good if we hadn’t known and loved the previous location with all our hearts and souls.  It’s hard to say.

P.S. The mule in a china shop cocktail was so bad that we couldn’t even get a group of six to finish it.

Dumpling Inn 5
I look happy in this picture but it’s because I haven’t tasted it yet.

P.P.S. But the shredded cabbage on the cold vegetable plate was good, Jenne says.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION
Address:
4625 Convoy St
Phone number:
858.268.9638
Noise level: 3
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Shared lot, fairly crowded
Ideal group size: 2-6,
Available vegetarian options: Cold vegetables, sauteed greens, vegetarian dumplings, mapo tofu without pork, and many more
Whom not to bring: People who don’t like to wait, people who have too strong of an attachment to the old Dumpling Inn

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