Recently, S and I were in LA for a friend’s wedding, so we took the chance to hit a few restaurants/spots on our LA “to-do” list. One of them is Mama Lu’s Dumpling House (Chinese name: 一口福), which serves what in Chinese is called mian shi (literally, “flour food” – noodles, dumplings, pancakes, etc – non-rice starchy items). I am a huge fan of rice normally, but I do also love dumplings and am always down to try a new place, hehe. So, when I came across reviews for Mama Lu’s Dumpling House, located in Monterey Park, I added it to my list.
There are actually two locations down the street from each other – one on West Garvey Ave, and the other on East Garvey. I believe we visited the East one. Also, I forgot to take pictures of the place because I was super hungry and too excited. Haha. But it was a pretty clean restaurant, a bit cramped in terms of space, and there wasn’t much of a wait around 1:30PM on a Saturday.
We were brought some complimentary pickled cucumbers and roasted peanuts, which I really appreciated since I mentioned that I was quite hungry, haha. The roasted peanuts were quite good – they were sprinkled with sugar, so you get a nice savory-sweet taste.
S and I had a really hard time deciding what we wanted, and in the end, we probably ordered way too much food, but here goes…This, the green onion pancake, was the reason that I really wanted to come here. I absolutely love green onion pancakes – a good version is crispy and flaky, with plenty of chopped green onions scattered throughout. The one here really lives up to its fame, as it was one of the best green onion pancakes I’ve had in a long time. (My mom’s version is still better, though, haha – nothing can beat that probably.)
The pan-fried dumplings, or potstickers, were really yummy. I loved the crispy bottom and the flavor of the pork filling.This dish, commonly seen in Sichuan restaurants, was a little different from what I had expected. Instead of the wontons being soaked in a chili oil sauce, there was very little sauce at the bottom. Instead, the wontons were topped with a mix of chopped green onions, cilantro, and a chili garlic sauce. S really liked this; I missed the chili oil sauce a bit, but I still agreed that these wontons were quite good. The wrappers were tender and “bouncy”, and the filling was a mix of pork and shrimp – here’s a sign to how much S liked these: he DETESTS shrimp and will not touch it under normal circumstances, yet he ate probably 4 or 5 of these wontons! I was super shocked since I’ve never seen him eat shrimp before.
Finally, we also had to try the “juicy pork dumplings”, or xiaolongbao (XLB). I had heard that the XLB here was comparable to (or even better than) the famous soup dumplings from Din Tai Fung, but alas, these did not live up to the hype. I found the wrapper too thick and slightly overcooked, so they were a bit gummy. The filling was also not too spectacular, and did not have enough soup for my liking.
Overall, though, I had a wonderful meal here and would definitely return. As you might have noticed, we didn’t get any actual dumplings – the thing is, S is not very picky about his dumplings, and I was worried that after coming all this way to LA for dumplings, he’d say something like they taste just like frozen ones. But S has convinced me that he will be more discerning next time, so we should come back (or buy some frozen dumplings to go next time). Other than the XLB, I enjoyed everything and look forward to trying some more items next time – we will definitely bring friends here so that we can order more stuff!
Mama Lu’s Dumpling House (一口福)
153 East Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755
Hours: Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun 10:30AM-3PM, 5PM-9PM