Xi’an, China / May 28, 2010 / lunch
Winederlust Rating (details below): 7.7 out of 10 / Winederlust Worthy: Yes
One of the specialties in Xi’an is the dumpling, and one of the best places to sample the dumpling is De Fa Chang, where you can get an 18-course dumpling banquet. (That’s right – 18 courses, though thankfully each course consists of only one dumpling.)
The dumplings arrive in baskets on your table in an endless stream, and you need to gobble them down quickly before they get cold. (The servers suggest that you eat them plain, without soy sauce, to experience the “natural flavors.”) For our lunch, we started with a dumpling soup laced with miniature dumplings. The number of dumplings you’re served in your soup is supposed to determine your fortune, much like fortune cookies (which we were told are an American invention and don’t actually exist in China). Both Jay and I got one dumpling each, which means “good trip.” (Five means lots of money, seven means luck, eight means wealth, and so on.)
Next the dumplings arrived in rapid succession: spicy pork, seafood, duck, pork and pumpkin, mushroom and chicken, ham and corn, vegetables, spicy chicken, fried rice, pork, mushroom and pork, walnut, tomato, veggies in a green wrapper (with tofu, greens, and onions), pork and onions, and sweet dumplings, filled with red bean paste. My favorites were the duck dumplings, shaped like tiny ducks and with a slight gamey duck flavor, and the walnut, an unusual concoction that tasted a little of Christmas cake.
We enjoyed the dumpling lunch but wished the dumplings came out a little more slowly so we could enjoy (and digest) them more. I also wondered why there weren’t any shrimp dumplings, the type I’m most used to having in the US and Canada, and which are my favorite. From some subsequent research, I learned that shrimp dumplings are usually Cantonese, so mainly found in Hong Kong or dim sum and not as common to the rest of China. Who knew?
– by Liz Humphreys, Winederlust Eater in Chief
Winederlust Rating Details (out of 10):
Food: 8.0 (preparation, presentation & taste)
Wine: N/A (selection, recommendations, pairings & taste)
Service: 8.0 (helpfulness, attentiveness, knowledge & pacing)
Place: 7.0 (location, view, decor & vibe)
Price Range: $ (Cheap)
De Fa Chang / Xi Dajie, at the North end of Zhong Gu (between the Clock & Drum Tower), Xi’an China
Direct Line: (029) 8721-4065
Open daily 9am-8pm; reservations recommended and no credit cards accepted.