The place: Dumpling King is an unassuming dine-in and takeout spot anchoring the east corner of the PK Oriental Mart strip mall on Northeast 167th Street. Menu options are pan-fried, boiled or steamed dumplings; wings, soups and spicy hot dips that are large soups; stir-fries, hot pot for sharing, noodles and fried rice plus flavored bubble teas served iced. Owner Bin Liu does not speak English, but most of the Chinese student servers do.
The history: Bin Liu is from Qingdau in the Shandong province on the peninsula of the same name in northern China bordering the Yellow Sea. It’s famous for the Tsingtao beer brewery, a legacy of German occupation in 1897. He and his wife came to New York 10 years ago, and he did delivery for a Chinatown restaurant. He found New York to be too crowded and came to Miami in 2014 to open Dumpling King, hiring Chinese cooks. He settled in North Miami Beach, whose spate of Asian markets and eateries attract both Asian and American customers.
The food: Be sure to try soup dumplings, brought to the table in a big bamboo steamer. The pagoda-shaped dumplings or xiaolong bao originated in Nanxiang, a suburb of Shanghai where they were sold by an unknown creator next to Guyi Garden. To eat one, pick it up, bite off the pinched tip and drink the pork broth, then eat the remaining wrapping that contains a pork ball or crab and pork ball. They are served with small saucers of soy sauce with black rice vinegar with slivers of ginger. Other dumplings include pan-fried ones with a mix of chives, pork and shrimp; steamed or pan-fried bok choy and glass noodles listed as “vegetable fried dumplings”; and pan-fried dumplings with a mix of string beans and ground pork. Boiled or steamed types include pork and celery and pork and bok choy. Or start with flaky pancakes with scallions made by coiling dough and rolling it out into thin rounds that are oiled and pan fried, cut in wedges and served with house hot sauce with a base of sriracha. Large spicy hot soups (dips) to try are seafood, hot and sour with rice noodles — or for the brave, pork intestines. Accompany a meal or have a bubble tea for dessert.
You didn’t know this: Boba or black pearl tea was created in Taiwan in 1983, sold from tea vendors near elementary schools. To outdo the competition, one vendor added fruity flavors the children would shake to mix — creating bubbles. Another vendor added milk and large chewy tapioca pearls called QQ, meaning chewy. Here there are jasmine, black and green pearl teas and milk pearl teas in flavors such as coffee latte, taro, pudding, honeydew, kiwi and banana.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.
If you go
Place: Dumpling King
Address: 237 NE 167th St. between First and Third avenues, North Miami Beach
Hours: Monday and Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers/soups $1.50-$9.99, dumplings $6.99-$10.99, entrees $5.99-21.99
FYI. Lunch specials Monday and Wednesday-Friday $6.75-$7.99 until 3 p.m.