[eat] Chinese dumpling at Jonny Dumpling @ Itaewon, Seoul

As much as I like Chinese dumplings never in a decade had I dared to think there would be a decent Chinese dumpling house in Seoul, let alone Itaewon. Chinese food, in the process of being imported to Korean cuisine, has changed and lost most of its specialties in order to suit Korean people’s palate. Mandu – Korean dumpling is not that bad but even the best mandu at Bukchon Mandu can’t compare to the other members of its family. It was merely by chance I discovered Jonny Dumpling but I’m glad I did because now I finally have a place to go to when in need of a good dumpling fill.

Jonny Dumpling is definitely a popular restaurant judging by the number of people waiting in queue in front of the door when we arrived. Being part of the queue itself, we waited half an hour or so before it was our turn to go inside. Queuing in this weather was one hell of an experience let me tell you.

The menu is very on point and pretty self-explanatory which I like sooo much:

At first we only ordered Boiled shrimp&pork (7000 KRW) and Dumpling soup (7000 KRW) (it’s just so cheap I???), consciously ignoring the stars rated next to the dish because we didn’t really believe in opinion leaders lol. But then Semi-fried shrimp&pork is rated so high for a reason and I will get around to explaining why it actually deserves 5/5 later.

The dumpling soup was served first, as if they’d known we were desperate for a sip of warm soup after waiting in the cold for so long. Maybe in other times when I am not so numb and warmth-seeking, this can be just an average soup to me. But at that very moment when the sole source of warmth came from just a bowl full of wontons and mussels and invitingly warm broth, the dumpling soup was heavenly to me. The broth was very light and sophisticated, in a sense you can taste the spiciness, the sweetness, the saltiness and smell the comforting aroma altogether but still be able to tell the spices distinctively apart. You will find yourself taking a large sip after a large sip of broth until the bowl runs dry but still wanting more and more of the delicacy that is the broth. However, there were a couple of things I noticed about the soup (or just the wonton really) that could have been improved to make it an even better dish. As a person who is quite aesthetically picky, the wontons didn’t strike me as the pretty ones. They were very flat and weirdly folded, which made them far cry from looking like a standard wonton. Further than just that, the skin was a bit thick and not thoroughly cooked, thus the wontons were somewhat hard which they really shouldn’t have been. The chef must have rushed, taking them out of the boiling pot maybe a minute or two too early. The mussels were a bit small, but I guess that wasn’t something they could help since my friend told me they were not in the right season.

The folding technique looked amateur to me…

The “similar to Xiao long bao” boiled pork&shrimp dumplings came out just in time we needed something more solid than tiny mussles and wontons. The first bite into the dumpling had me (silently) screech rather embarrassingly because god did I miss it. True to the dish advertisement, it was indeed juicy, wonderfully succulent and for crying out loud the best dumpling I’d ever had in Seoul. The filling was so mellow, flavour efficiently elevated when dipped in soy sauce. The skin was silky, tasted similar to that of Korean noodles kalguksu.Even when the filling was only moderate and the skin was a bit too thick for my liking, for such a quality at such price, this was the closest to the authentic Xiao long bao you could get here in downtown. 

After sitting for a while, I noticed that all of the tables had a plate of semi-fried dumplings on like it was the only thing worth ordering. As I looked around, these fluffy semi-fried pillows of meat seemed to stare through my soul, screaming for me to order one for our table as well. So I did just that out of tremendous curiosity and luckily nothing was killed in the process because that was truly their most amazing dish! While the steamed half tasted similar to that of the (1) dish, the other crisp half was what made the dish a must-try experience. The skin was moist, deliciously crunchy yet soft enough for a pleasant bite.

Even though Jonny Dumpling doesn’t claim itself a Chinese restaurant, the food they serve speaks louder than anything else. Hmm now I feel like catching the subway to Itaewon to grab a bite at Jonny Dumpling…

Dumpling can be a great comfort food for a chilly evening in Itaewon. Definitely a must go.

Jonny Dumpling, Itaewon station, exit 2 OR exit 4 (they have two different franchises). The one I went to is near exit 2.


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