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Mom Dumpling dim sum in Pleasanton

Uploaded: Jul 17, 2023
The name Mom Dumpling begs the question, who is the namesake? Manager Ryan Wong doesn’t know about a particular Mom. “I think my boss wants customers to feel at home and dine family style with a selection of food to share,” added Wong.

Mom Dumpling is located next to Jim’s, a Pleasanton breakfast and lunch staple in the Raley’s shopping center. Previously a Chinese restaurant, the small space features a wall-sized mural with panels showing the traditional way dim sum bao is made.

Dim sum is the featured menu item. Though dim sum is best known as dumplings from Canton (Guangzhou), many regions in China also serve specialty versions The style of cuisine began in teahouses as small snacks served at tea houses. Now many of us enjoy a dim sum meal.

Mom Dumpling serves steamed and pan-fried dim sum in various shapes, styles and fillings plus traditional Chinese restaurant dishes.

Shanghai-style soup dumplings are the restaurant’s signature dish. The Chinese name for steamed soup dumplings is xiao long bao or XLB, and sheng jian bao are pan-fried soup dumplings.

I’m a latecomer to soup dumplings. My initiation to dim sum occurred years ago at San Francisco’s iconic dim sum house, Yank Sing. Here the dim sum is served from carts circling the room with a revolving set of temptations in bamboo baskets. When I met TV chef Martin Yang several years ago and mentioned my Tri-Valley roots, he encouraged me to frequent Koi Palace in Dublin. I’ve enjoyed Koi Palace dim sum lunches but never ordered their soup dumplings.

My friend Andrea encouraged me to try soup dumplings at Dumpling Time in Berkeley. I found them doughy, soupy and awkward to eat with the broth squirting out. I was a bit more comfortable at the Dumpling Time at City Center San Ramon. But when we lunched at Mom Dumpling, I became a convert.

The soup dumplings in Pleasanton had more meat filling and thinner dough. On my second trip to Mom Dumpling with Janice, another dim sum aficionado, we immediately ordered the soup dumplings.

Wong the manager gave us some tips. Take a small bite first, he said, and savor the soup. I found the top knot of the XLB was not large and tough, as the others were, and easily nibbled off a bit, sipped and then gobbled down the rest. I was hooked.

When the pan-fried sheng jian bao arrived, I did a double take. They looked like donuts without the hole. I now prefer the pan-fried sheng jian bao with the crunchy bottom.

I thought that bao were large white buns filled with barbecued pork common at Asian eateries. Wong explained that bao are rounded dim sum made with flour. My previous favorite dim sum, har gow, rice noodle enwrapped shrimp dumplings, are delicious but not bao.

Beyond dim sum, the menu features several “house” dishes with a mix of chicken, pork and vegetables. The star of the “hot dishes” is the dry cooked green beans. The generous portion of non-greasy green beans was crispy on the outside from a sear in a hot wok.

I liked the lacey-crisp bottom of the pan-fried potstickers. Noodles dishes such as chow mein, Sichuan ( Szechuan) style tan tan noodles, and fried rice options are popular. Sweet and sour or General Tso’s chicken, black pepper beef and vegetarian mapo tofu in a spicy sauce are also menued.

Following the trend for sustainable eating which features not wasting edible foods, my friend and I selected crispy pig ears in a spicy sauce. I had tasted pig’s ears in Italy. Mom Dumpling’s version was thinly sliced and well-seasoned though a few crunchy pieces were enough for me. Wong told us that his Asian customers along with those of Mexican and Italian origin often order them.

Dessert options include crispy fried sesame balls and when available, custard-filled bao. Drinks are limited to hot chrysanthemum or jasmine tea, cold Thai tea and soft drinks. “Our restaurant is a place to come when you’re hungry and not looking to hang out. We seat many large parties, often with multi-generation families,” said Wong.

Mom Dumpling is a mom-and-pop operation. Wong, the manager since early 2023, is often the only server. The original owner opened the restaurant in March 2022, and then San Francisco Mom Dumpling in May, 2022. The Pleasanton location has a new owner, and the website needs a refresh. Only the online order menu reflects current offerings. Wong plans on updating the menu soon and giving discounts for the frozen dim sum.

The location is handy for a grocery run and look-see at the 50 percent off rack at the newly relocated Gypsy Boutique two doors from Raley’s. You may see me post-shopping at Mom Dumpling enjoying XLB, sheng jizn bao and potstickers.

My friend and I concur with the universal saying on the mural wall, “Live for Love and Love for Food.”

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