Vanessa’s Dumplings

Review by: billyboy

My friend Ian Zaretsky, who first introduced me to Roadfood, is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to good eats in NYC. If he tells me to check out a place, I listen and listen good! So when he told me about Vanessa’s Dumplings I made sure it was on my short list. Countless trips later, it is still my “go-to” spot for dumplings and a must visit when I have friends in from out of town.

It’s tucked away on a side street on the Lower East Side and has been packed almost every time I have been there. On any given night musicians from area bars, hipsters, neighborhood locals, tourists, college students, and just about anyone else can be found slurping down some good soup, drinking bubble tea, tearing into a sesame pancake, or tucking into a plate of boiled and/or fried dumplings.

Sometimes I can find a table. Other times I stand at a little shelf by the front window and dig into my feast. I’ve even been known to set up shop on the trash bins outside and dine al fresco.

My standard meal is two orders of fried pork and chive dumplings, a sesame pancake, and an almond bubble tea. There is a controlled chaos to Vanessa’s and some may find it a bit overwhelming but I love it. Wait in the longish line, watch the ladies in the back through the window as they make the dumplings, place your order, and pay at the counter. The woman will give you a receipt with your number on it. Listen closely as English is not the primary language spoken here and sometimes it can be difficult to tell when your number is called.

The sesame pancake resembles a slice of pizza and is a gloriously greasy multi-napkin affair. Coated with nutty sesame seeds and studded throughout with scallions, it makes for a great side to the soups, and serves as a base for a variety of sandwiches. The fried pork and chive dumplings are four for a dollar and what a delicious bargain they are: ginger-scented ground pork and scallions enveloped by a dough that is soft on one side, browned and crispy on the other. I like to coat them in soy sauce and Sriracha chili sauce for a salty/spicy mix that wakes up my taste buds. The creamy bubble tea is a nice cooling palate pleaser. The tapioca pearls offer an interesting textural change from the norm for me.

Vanessa’s also offers frozen dumplings to go for those who are industrious enough to cook them at home. 50 pork and chive dumplings for $9.00 is quite a steal. There are many inexpensive dumpling houses on the Lower East Side, and in Chinatown, that are quite good, but Vanessa’s has got me hooked.

Directions & Hours

118A Eldridge Street, New York , NY , (Get Directions)

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What To Eat


Sesame Pancake


Vanessa’s Dumplings Recipes


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