By Vickie Lewis
It’s a new year, and most of us are making resolutions to make changes in our lives or to boldly try new experiences that will broaden our horizons. If you are among those yearning for new culinary experiences to start your new year, you must make time to visit New Dumpling in El Cerrito.
New Dumpling is a small, family-owned Chinese restaurant located in the heart of El Cerrito on San Pablo Avenue near Central Avenue. It is adjacent to the Rialto Theater and nestled among other small businesses that thrive in this busy downtown area. It opened in the spring of 2019 and has amassed a huge following of customers in the months that have ensued. An article about New Dumpling. published in Berkleyside (an independent news site in Berkeley) within weeks of its opening, enticed its readers to try the new restaurant and experience the unique cuisine offered there. Word spread quickly and soon New Dumpling was teeming with business!
As the name implies, New Dumpling features a variety of homemade Chinese dumplings, which comprise most of its relatively limited menu. Dumplings, also known as jiaozi, are crescent-shaped dough, filled with minced stuffing which can be boiled, steamed, or fried. There are several side dishes and soups also offered at New Dumpling; however, you won’t find some of your traditional Chinese favorites , such as Chow Mein, Sweet and Sour Pork, or Kung Pao Chicken here. Restaurant owners Alex Meng, his wife, Gloria Tan, and Meng’s mother, are originally from Shenyang, China, which is home to a popular restaurant chain, Laobian Dumpling, popular for its huge variety of flavorful jiaozi. This was likely the inspiration for launching New Dumpling last April. In China, dumplings are among the most popular of cuisines, and are especially popular during the Chinese New Year season. They are considered to symbolize longevity and wealth.
My guest and I visited New Dumpling for Saturday lunch between 11:30 and noon. We were fortunate to find parking on the street in front of the restaurant, although this may, at times, be challenging, due to the many businesses on the same block. When we entered the restaurant, there were already several tables of customers enjoying their meals. We were promptly greeted and seated, and