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East Dumpling House opens in Rockville

20131023 133259Dumplings come in all shapes, sizes, textures and flavors depending on what part of the world in which you are dining. 

Each culture prepares their own form of a dumpling—the Polish will serve potato-stuffed pierogi, Italians cover gnocchi and ravioli in tomato sauce, and Indians serve complex spices stuffed into a samosa—but perhaps the first image to come to mind in any native Rockvillian’s mind is that of a chewy noodle stuffed with meat and vegetables that is either steamed or fried and served with soy dipping sauce.   These traditional Chinese dumplings are the namesake behind Rockville Town Center’s newest Chinese establishment, struggling to compete with nearby competition.

East Dumpling House features more than two dozen different types of homemade dumplings on a menu that boasts traditional northeastern Chinese dim sum alongside classic Chinese-American cuisine.  Unless you order a single lunch special, dishes come out as they are prepared. 

My meal began with hot-and-sour soup, a concoction of tofu skins, bamboo shoots and mushrooms swirling in a sweet vinegary broth thickened with egg and a bit too-much cornstarch that left an unpleasant coating on my tongue. 

Lamb kabobs were flavorful and tender, their pleasantly charred crust speckled with crunchy sesame seeds.  As for the lo mein, it is difficult to discern any flavor or texture aside from the oil, which left a greasy taste in my mouth throughout the rest of the meal. 

My dumplings arrived as little pockets of steamed-then-pan-seared dough scattered across a white plate.  My palate enjoyed the pleasant contrast between the crunchy exterior and the pleasant chewy noodle, but was disappointed by an otherwise watery filling of chicken and mushrooms.  I would probably choose a heartier filling such as pork and shrimp if I were to order them again. 

The cold cucumber salad was the biggest disappointment of the meal—its slimy texture was difficult enough to get past, but the fishy taste kept me from taking a second piece.  Our server was quick to appease her customers, however, and she immediately returned with a replacement cold offering of sliced carrots, celery and peanuts.  While salty, the celery salad was much more palatable and I appreciated its cool contrast to the heavier food.

Unfortunately, the food at East Dumpling House falls into the same grease-trap that befalls many other could-have-been-good Chinese restaurants.  I enjoyed a few flavors here and there, particularly the lamb kabob, yet most of the time I could not help but think, “I’ve had better.”

If you do wish to check out the variety of offerings at East Dumpling House, be sure to bring a few friends and come during off-hours.  The small plates that signify dim-sum are meant to be ordered in abundance and shared around the table, and you will only be seated at this said table before or after the lunch and dinner rush when they tend to get busy.  Expect to spend between $2.00 and $6.00 for small plates, and upwards of $9.00 for a plate of 12 dumplings.  East Dumpling House is located at 12 N Washington Ave Ste 14G, Rockville.


Final Verdict:  So-So

 By Courtney Shay

MoCoVox food critic

The ratings:

Must Go:  I will go out of my way to seek out this restaurant

Go:  I will eat here again

So-So:  I guess I can eat here, if I am starving and I’m standing in front of the restaurant

No-Go:  I don’t care how hungry I am, I will not eat here

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