I’ve been getting a number of suggestions from different people in terms of restaurants in the area that I have yet to try. I don’t know why I’ve never tried Mama Lu’s Dumpling House until recently. However, Nelson from noonieandcoonie.com suggested that I try it, specifically for their beef rolls. Normally, I think, I feel reluctant to go to dumpling houses because I don’t usually go out of my way to eat dumplings in a restaurant. It’s one of those things where I’ll either buy a frozen bag of dumplings from the supermarket and make it at home or make homemade dumplings myself. But, I’m a big fan of beef rolls and wanted to know what all of the rave was about.
The restaurant itself is located in the plaza where Cocary used to be located on Garvey. I’ll be honest and say that I actually got lost looking for this place when I went to eat with my friend Calvin. We always have a tendency of getting lost when we try and find a restaurant we’ve never been to before, but we made our way there.
We ordered about 3 dishes which included: beef noodle soup, xiao long bao, and beef rolls. The beef noodle soup was a hefty portion for such a small price. We shared it between the two of us. I thought the beef noodle soup was decent. The meat was well cooked and was falling apart (I really hate it when the meat is tough). The broth was a little salty for my taste, but I tend to eat a little blander than most people when it comes to the salt department. I liked that the noodles weren’t overcooked (pet peeve). Overall, the beef noodle soup was just like any other beef noodle soup I’ve had so far. I know it’s considered a national Taiwanese dish despite its mainland Chinese origins, but I have yet to have a beef noodle soup that really stood out from the rest. It’s just really good comfort food for me.
When it came to the xiao long bao, I was really excited. I don’t normally eat xiao long bao that often, so I feel it’s a treat whenever I do eat it. When I first took a bite of the xiao long bao, I usually let the broth run into my spoon to see how much is inside. I like to compare the contents of the xiao long bao between different establishments. I must say, I was actually disappointed. Why? This xiao long bao was on the drier side. The broth itself was flavorful and the xiao long bao had a nice soft consistency to it, but not overcooked. However, the main characteristic of a good xiao long bao is the broth inside of it. The lack of broth inside the xiao long bao made it overall dry and when it began to cool down, it was almost like eating dumplings. I was really sad. I like a xiao long bao which has so much broth inside it bursts in your mouth. Sadly, I have yet to find good places for this.
So far, this place isn’t looking too hot, but luckily the beef rolls are here to save the day! When Nelson told me that Mama Lu’s was great for their beef rolls, he was not kidding. I was really excited to have beef rolls because I also don’t eat them too often, perhaps even less than xiao long bao. And let me say I was pleasantly surprised. The beef rolls had so much flavor and so many textures, it was like a party in my mouth. The beef was perfectly cooked and was a nice contrast to the pan fried wrap. I was actually really surprised to see that this beef roll was pan fried, and I think that is what made all of the difference.
Sure, the beef roll was a bit on the oily side because it was pan fried, but it made such an impact on the dish, I don’t think I can eat beef rolls the same way ever again. Right when you bite into it, you get a nice crunch before you sink your teeth into the soft beef that melts in your mouth and combines with the sweet flavor of the hoison sauce. I think that pan frying the beef roll also helped keep the roll itself together. Often times, I find that the beef roll will fall apart because of the sheer weight of the contents of the dish. However, I think that with the fried wrap, it helps give some structure to the dish, which made it easier to eat as well.
So what do I think about Mama Lu’s Dumpling House? Awesome beef rolls! It was my favorite thing out of the 3 dishes we ordered. I think the only reason I would go out of my way to eat here is to have the beef rolls. Other than that, you can find similar dishes elsewhere for around the same price and probably similar quality. Would I make this a regular place to go to?
Um…maybe not? As much as I loved the beef rolls, I think that I would need more than that to justify driving 30 minutes away to eat at this restaurant, when there’s a similar restaurant in a closer vicinity. However, if you are ever in the Monterey Park area, it is definitely worth a try!
153 E Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755