Man Food: Suburban Dumplings at Szechuan’s Dumpling in Arlington
OK, we get it. For those of us who live in Boston, there are but few reasons to venture anywhere beyond city limits for a restaurant when they’re all right here. But newcomer Szechuan’s Dumpling in Arlington is making a strong case for heading to suburbia—and after all, it’s got a fairly classic menu that’s highlighted by dumplings.
The dumpling list is short but sweet, a combination of pan-fried, steamed, and filled with different combinations of meat, seafood, and vegetables. Of course, we ordered most of them—which resulted in the arrival of a glistening platter of pork “mini juicy dumplings” (a.k.a. soup dumplings, 6.75), Shanghai fried pork buns ($6.25), and shrimp and vegetable dumplings ($7.25) at our table.
The juicy dumplings are filled with a rich, complex broth that’s highlighted with ginger, scallions, and a hunk of pork. The dough wrappers on these are thick, easily containing the soup, but much like the pork filling, it ends up on the chewier side of the spectrum. Together, the dumpling size becomes a detriment, more chewy and dense than it needs to be.
The pork buns are essentially giant Peking raviolis: lush dough gives way to a generous helping of ground pork, formed together like a sharp Asian meatball. They’re large enough to pick up like a slider and more succulent and umami-packed than your typical mini-burger. Szechuan’s Dumpling’s version is a treat, even though the filling doesn’t quite reach the outer limits of the bun.
Finally, the shrimp and vegetable dumplings are steamed-to-order and come out so light and airy that they practically melt in your mouth. The shrimp is spiked by a mélange of vegetables and is supple bite after bite. Ultimately, these dumplings benefit the most from a hefty dip in the soy dipping sauce, pungent with vinegar and ginger, and in a blink they’re gone.
Despite a few challenges with texture and dumplings that veer toward chewy and not melt-in-your-mouth tender, the flavors put Szechuan’s Dumpling right up there with some of the better dumplings in town—or, at least, near town.