You may recall that when I put out a call for info on soup dumping in Humboldt, one of our wonderful readers posted that we should check out the Szechuan Garden in Arcata, so we did. The obsession with soup dumplings started lsat October where we were traveling in NYC and visited the fabled Joe’s Shanghai in Flushing, home and ground zero to the to the soup dumpling movement in the US.
What is a soup dumpling? A little bit of heaven. At Joe’s they’re BIG and it takes two or three bites to devour one. They’re made by taking broth and refrigerating it till it’s more or less a gel, then constructing the dumpling , which looks kind of like a shu mai around the broth with innumerable tiny folds in a circle. If I had to make one you’d be waiting for years.
I’m not going to pretend that the Szechuan Gardens will put Joe’s out of business but they ARE soup dumplings and well worth the drive to Arcata. They’re about half the size of the Joe’s version but very pleasantly flavored. They don’t show up on the menu- they’re listed as “A6- Juicy Pork Dumplings (6) $6.95” . So now you know.
The rest of the menu is pretty conventional. I tried the chicken curry and didn’t think it had much flavor. I took the fried rice home and found that by dinner time it had developed a lot more flavor than at lunch. It happens. My friend, who is not an adventurous eater, had the chicken teriyaki. I didn’t try it. I took home an order of the Black Pepper Beef (($10.50) and I really liked it. Although it had a little black chili pepper next to it on the menu, I wouldn’t describe it as spicy. Good flavor, though.
The restaurant is on that little spur of 18th Street that veers off left from the freeway ramp. Parking is somewhat difficult but the good news is that you can drive behind the building and go around for a second shot. The menu is HERE. Give them a try.
And thanks, Glenn, for the tip!