Vanessa’s Cheap Dumplings
4 dumplings for $1 isn’t a miracle to anyone who spends time in Chinatown on days they aren’t catching the Fung-Wah. Same goes for pork buns, 3 of $1; and sesame pancake, $0.75. However, Vanessa’s warrants a special shout out for a number of reasons, the least of which is the woman who shouts out order numbers: sometimes she gets creative and “2o” comes out “45-C”.
The food here is solid. It makes me a grinning jackass. But for that to mean anything, you need a point of reference. If I’m getting 4 dumplings for $1, I’m expecting atrophied sacks that could just as well hold the deteriorated gonad spindles of an old cat. Well, not expecting, otherwise I wouldn’t pay, but I certainly wouldn’t be shocked. These dumplings, however, are tightly packed, plumped juicers – like a fried or steamed pimple. Anyway, gross. Let’s talk pancakes – or anything cooked in a pan. Under the price circumstances, I wouldn’t blink even once if it arrived perspiring grease from every pore because frying in voluminous amounts of oil is a tried and true method to mask low-quality, hence my crispy Hanes “factory irregulars” boxer briefs. So, just imagine my big, fat, stupid smile then when I get fresh, fluffy sesame pancakes.
This place got a face lift a little while ago and apparently the decorator was not a prescription drug addict, nor a fraud who attended Vet school, because the place doesn’t look like this. Nope, in fact, it looks pretty damn good. It is noticeably well-lit, noticeably street level, noticeably big, and noticeably clean. The assembly-line is well-tuned to quickly meet the high demand, with a bonus of minimal shouting and grease explosions, which is good because the place has a bunch of tables and is inviting to eat in compared to many a forlorn dumpling house.
At Vanessa’s you are just an epic, unsliced tee shot from the Delancey stop and, if you got the connections or are an attractive girl (or in the company of one), you are a block away from Chloe. Don’t get me wrong, I love going into Chinatown, but only if I have a few days cleared on my schedule. Otherwise, it just isn’t prudent.
For the squeamish, you are safe from the olfactory assault of deep Chinatown. However, on my two particular visits, the sidewalk outside of the only Romaniote Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, just down the street, did smell like concentrated cat shit. Seriously, it was like cat shit had been collected and then “decanted” to remove any non-reeking elements. Then, someone must’ve loaded this highly potent “reduction” compound into a fog machine and hidden it behind the scaffolding, because there was certainly no shrubbery. But, it was undetectable from Vanessa’s.
If you combine all of the above features (minus the cat poop) you get what I’ll call a high bang-ability quotient. That means, you could come here with someone really impress them. Maybe so much so that they bang you, or at least let you bang them. Everything here is cheap, even fancier orders with the works. You can also buy unsteamed/unfried dumplings starting at 50 for $8 if you want to half-ass DIY.
Vanessa’s is located at 118 Eldridge between Broome and Grand.