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Tim Carman Calls Out Top Dim Sum Dumplings

What the critics are saying this week

Honeysuckle
Rey Lopez

The Washington Post’s Tim Carman has dim sum on the brain this week, specifically when it comes to dumplings. He creates a concise list of go-to dumplings, categorizing them by dim sum restaurant and noting price points. Fun gor at Oriental East are fried “until they’re supernaturally crisp and chewy,” and the shell’s “dueling textures provide the first waves of pleasure — until you reach the marinated pork-and-shrimp filling, which supplies the final rush of flavor.”

Rice noodle crepes at Mark’s Duck House “have it all,” he says, while the deep-fried taro dumplings at Da Hong Pao are also not to miss:

“When fresh from the fryer, as they are here, the dumplings are hot and crunchy, but soon reveal their softer side: a taro-and-wheat-starch shell that blurs the line between creamy and starchy, concealing a soy-marinated pork filling that has an almost gravylike consistency.”

Meanwhile, he calls out the steamed pork, shrimp and vermicelli dumplings at Hollywood East Cafe and compliments their golden, translucent purses.

Steamed and pan-fried chive dumplings at Hong Kong Pearl Seafood in Falls Church are also a must (warning: on weekends, the cavernous dining room “fills up fast” with expats anxious for the dim-sum cart service). Also go for har gau at Wong Gee Asian Restaurant in Silver Spring, featuring wheat-and-tapioca-starch wrappers that are thin and elastic enough to allow the shrimp to “speak clearly.” [WaPo]

It’s two stars (“good”) for Honeysuckle in Tom Sietsema’s latest review this week.

The space formerly known as Southern restaurant Vidalia chef has a new owner and chef, Hamilton Johnson, but you can still expect Southern staples from its predecessor like a “great” bread basket and “meaty cracklings sound off in a few dishes.” Johnson “weaves into his repertoire” ingredients and techniques adopted from trips to Iceland and Finland (the creme fraiche on dessert relies on skyr, Iceland’s “creamy answer to yogurt,” while duck breast seasoned with caraway “illustrates another nod” to the Nordic).

“What many dishes share is an unabashed richness, a reliance on butter and cream that borders on overkill and seems out of step with the way a lot of us prefer to eat right now. Don’t get me wrong. I adore sweetbreads and pastry, black truffles and Hollandaise as much as the next food enthusiast. But introducing all those ingredients to one another in the same dish, as Johnson does in a fancy first course, creates an endurance contest for its recipient.”

Portions are heavy, he notes (his amuse-bouche can “feel like a mini-meal”) and a side dish of kale is “as much cream as green and weighted with smoked ham hocks.”

Criticisms aside, Sietsema clearly states that Johnson can cook (his food at Vidalia “was some of the best” in the restaurant’s 23 years, and “enough flashes of that talent alight at Honeysuckle”).

Fish is a highlight, he notes. He applauds the slow-roasted hake, “snappy with chicken cracklings, shimmering with smoked roe and resting on a subtle malted veloutém” and the skate wing with a classic French sauce cardinale is “rich” but “also a keeper.”

The bar’s short menu of small plates are his favorite thing at the restaurant (“they have the advantage of being a few bites as opposed to gut-busters). He calls out the twice-fried, peanut-strewn, sweet and sour chicken wings and rye bread slathered with gribiche.

As for cocktails, go with the potent Black Sabbath. Save room for desserts by pastry chef T.C. Lumbar, such as the “seductive” butterscotch panna cotta. [WaPo]

Tyler Cowen raves about Street Kitchen, a dosa stand in Tysons Corner that’s “not just good for Tysons, it’s really good period. In fact I’ll put it in the top tier of dosa places around.” The Mysore masala dosa is the spiciest dosa he’s had in this area “in years,” and there are “decent” sides. [Ethnic Dining Guide]

FROM THE BLOGS: Bitches Who Brunch check out Oz in Arlington, while BYT gives Hill Prince on H Street a first look.

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