Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Po's Dumpling Bar: 1715 West 39th Street

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The dumplings at Po's Dumpling Bar are definitely homemade, but they won't knock your socks off. What will knock your socks off is the marinated cabbage and pork soup. Seriously, this was one of the most interesting and delicious things I've put in my mouth all year. I think they should change the name to "Po's Marinated Cabbage and Pork Soup Bar." You don't like cabbage, you say? Well, there's no hope for you. May I suggest the Orange Beef?

Po's Dumpling Bar

Anyway, I like the vibe of Po's Dumpling Bar. It is very casual without the design and pomp of nearby Asian powerhouse Blue Koi. Po's is a little more DIY in its decor and a tad less pompous than Blue Koi in terms of its menu, ambiance and service. Of course these are things that May pointed out a long time ago.

Po's

Po's is basically a Chinese restaurant, and they have the menu to prove it. They offer a few typical Chinese-American staples like Cashew Chicken, Beef with Broccoli and Sweet and Sour Chicken under the somewhat misleading menu heading "Traditional Lunches." Though I don't often order these sorts of things it is nice to know that there are options for...uh, people who like that kind of food. You know, like your parents.

The menu also features a number of noodles, soups, and noodle soups. I ordered something called "pan-fried noodle" with beef which was a little bit of a surprise. It was a rather pedestrian stir-fry on a bed of crunchy noodles.

Pan-fried noodles

I have always been mystified by the crunchy chow mein style noodles, and I remained mystified. I just did not find it to be a pleasant texture component, particularly when some of the vegetables were crunchy as well. Even had the noodles been soft, i would not have been thrilled with the dish, though. The beef was on the tough side and had a minerally undertone that I found unpleasant. The preponderance of baby corn was likewise a disappointment. Between the baby corn, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, most of the vegetables came from cans.

The lunch entree aside, my experience was actually quite good at Po's. The real action seems to be on the appetizer section of the menu. They offer steamed dumplings, pan fried dumplings, shrimp dumplings, several kinds of buns, seaweed salad, and these delightful lettuce wraps with minced chicken and hoisin sauce.

lettuce wraps

They also have a ton of soups available. If they are all as delicious as the cabbage and pork soup, I'm going to be a regular customer. The bowl size ($4.95) is easily enough for two people to have their fill before a meal or one person as his meal. I couldn't tell what kind of broth they used but it was as strong as a beef broth. It contained delectable, floating bits of shitake mushroom, green onions, cabbage and pork. I can't adequately describe the flavor for you, just go try it.

Marinated Cabbage and Pork Soup

Po's will not compete with Blue Koi for the yuppie dinnertime crowd, but for those looking for a quick, cheap lunch, it can be very good indeed. If you have visited and had something you enjoyed, let me know in the comments. I think once you know what you like, you'll be a repeat customer. I'll be back for that soup.

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10 comments:

Lucas said...

They also have super cheap wine by the bottle specials Tues-Thurs!

Bring on the hooch....

Pensive Girl said...

the pork and cabbage soup is the ONLY thing i've ever ordered. got it once and get it every time. my boyfriend always tries something new though, so i've tried a lot of their food.

the buns are good. but the soup...oh, the soup!

m.v. said...

I need to try the soup

Owen said...

You're right, they're dumplings are so-so. Do you know of any place in town that has killer dumplings? Every KC place I've been to has been okay to disappointing.

The DLC said...

Owen-- a friend of mine who is new in town went in search of great dumplings and her favorite thus far is PF Changs. Sigh. So clearly this is a problem. Some of the dim sum offerings at Bo Lings are good, particularly the seafood dumplings. But I have yet to find anything truly outstanding.

Faith said...

What are we talking about when we say "dumplings?" Like the Blue Koi type of stuff? Because I loooove those. I've had the same type of thing in a steamed version from PF Changs, and didn't find it to be anything worth writing home about. I'd rather get their wok seared lamb when I'm there. That stuff is beyond awesome. BEYOND. So good.

Shit, now I want Asian food of some sort for dinner. Damn you DLC!

drawer queen said...

I have been to Taste and to Po's and had almost the exact same food and the exact reaction to the food as you. It's like reading the diary I didn't write! Where have I been that you are going next!!?

hbrown said...

And one of the best parts...They are open on Sundays, unlike every other spot on 39th!

The DLC said...

As both a drunkard and a heathen I truly appreciate wine specials and being open on Sunday. It's insane how hard it is to satisfy a craving on the lord's day in this town.

Sustainable said...

Their sesame Balls are killer! Get them for an appetizer or even better as a semi-sweet desert!

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