Having eaten over a million dumplings to date, you’d think I’d be sick of them…but I’m not. Forever and always, I’ll be head-over-heels crazy and recklessly in love with those plump curves that fit so perfectly and explode in my mouth. Not to mention the fact that my very existence depends on them the same way other humans need air. Dumplings aren’t my addiction – they’re my life.
Any legit dumpling shop makes dumplings to order, and Fortune Dumpling and Bubble Tea make it clear that they do the moment you step in thanks to the windowless display of staff expertly stuffing and pleating at the front of the restaurant. That should be your cue to take a seat.
There’s a lot to look at on the menu because it’s not exclusively comprised of dumplings, even if there are about 20 variations. Boiling is the only cooking method for now while they wait for their pan-frying equipment to arrive. Prices range from $8.99 to $12.99 per plate of 15 pieces. For lunch, you get more for your money’s worth with the $12.99 special that includes specific dumplings and two appetizers.
When in doubt, order the pork and cabbage dumplings ($9.99). That particular combo is usually fail-safe wherever you go, and here, it was delicious. Think of each one having thick, chewy skin that gives way to a tender pink center that’s both juicy and well-seasoned. They’ll be gone before you know it.
Lamb can sometimes taste gamey, but that strong, off-putting flavor was nowhere to be found in my batch of lamb and coriander dumplings ($12.99). Inside those slippery, doughy wrappers were moist balls of meat, salted just right with a hint of herby freshness.
In between bites, I picked on a few appetizers I appointed as side dishes. My chopsticks kept reaching for the simple and refreshing wakame salad ($3.99) – green, glassy strings of seaweed with an underlying sweetness tossed with a mildly acidic dressing.
I also couldn’t get enough of the very basic potato salad ($3.99). Not one thin, crunchy stick of lightly-pickled potato went to waste.
The pig ears with spicy sauce ($6.99) were misleading. I thought they stewed them in a rich, spicy sauce, but they just boil them, slice them and squirt weak chili oil before serving the dish cold. They’re straight up bland, and the outer later of the ears didn’t swell and soften enough to contrast the crunchy cartilage at the center. I like pig ears, I just wasn't down with their preparation. Next time I’m craving nasty bits, I’ll put the beef tripe with spicy sauce ($6.99) to the test.
I’ll be staying away from this bowl of cold noodles with sesame butter sauce and vegetables ($7.99) at future visits. No surprise there – it’s vegetarian. My biggest issue, however, was with the overload of sesame butter sauce that tasted like equal parts sweet hoisin sauce and salty oyster sauce. It’s potent stuff. Everything got lost in it. A little bit goes a long way.
Finally, I couldn’t leave without trying the jian bing ($4.99) – a popular Chinese street food snack commonly eaten in the morning. Cooked to order on a circular griddle, the batter was spread thinner than a crêpe before the addition of an egg, followed by sesame seeds, green onions and cilantro. Once everything was set, it was flipped onto the other side and brushed with a dark, salty and sweet sauce. A few slim sheets of crisped dough (swapped for Chinese crullers on weekends) were laid down before some serious folding took place. The verdict? With both shattering and soft layers and a little eggy-ness, it’s a savory and simple-tasting treat I’d want to have again and again – and not just for breakfast.
All in all, a good experience despite service being a forgetful about cutlery, sauce bowls and sometimes food. If that happens to you, don’t just sit there with your arms crossed huffing and puffing about terrible service and never coming back again – you were born with hands to wave and the ability to speak (politely, I hope).
Mai Xiang Yuan is still my #1 spot, but that’s not to say I won’t be giving Fortune Dumpling and Bubble Tea any of my attention. Clean place, convenient location, decent prices, down-to-earth dinning and fresh, juicy dumplings – they've got it all.
Fortune Dumpling and Bubble Tea
1629 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest | map