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Vanessa’s Dumpling House: So Damn Cheap, So Damn Good!

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Food is absolutely amazing! It can pick you up when you are feeling down, help celebrate life’s Hallmark moments, bridge the gaps between cultures and most of it fuels your body! With that being said, it is obvious we need food…right?! But what if you are strapped for cash? You don’t want to be in a position where you have to choose between food and those coveted Miley Cyrus tickets. To eat or to twerk should not be our situation. So that’s where the Le Chintzy Chef comes in. This blog is going to put you on the fast track to the best spots to eat in the five boroughs on the cheap! And if you don’t live in NYC, NO WORRIES! I am going to supply you with all my bad-ass recipes that can feed an army (or have you eating leftovers for days) for dime store, whore house prices!

This week I’m giving you the skinny on one of my staple joints to get some high quality eats, that won’t break your budget.

Vanessa’s Dumpling House has been a staple at 118 Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan since 1999. The Lower East Side? It has to be pretentious and pricey! Hell no! Not Vanessa’s. This place is all quality without the price tag. It is so good and inexpensive, it is worth the time and money getting there.

I originally stumbled on Vanessa’s during an outing with my sister. We had been running around, knocking out errands and, as always, entertaining ourselves by being a couple of clowns. It was early in the afternoon, so we decided to find something to eat. At this point there was no magical street sherpa that lead us to our destination. Rather, we were walking by and noticed that there were a lot of people eating there, a moderate line and an A rating for sanitation. The front of the building and the dining area is modest, yet clean. (They have an open kitchen as well. Being a culinarian, that’s the first place I looked. Spotless!) As we were hungry, this was enough to win us over. I only had pork and chive dumplings. They cost a whopping $2. This was the first of many trips.

When I came up with the idea of featuring Vanessa’s for my inaugural blog, I took a trip back in order to give you the full experience (I also wanted to immerse myself in all that was dumpling).

I arrived much to the same scene as before. Happy patrons indulging in large amounts of dumplings, a reasonable line at the dumpling disbursement area (cashier), and efficient line cooks browning large varieties of previously mentioned dumplings.

Unlike a standard food critic, I didn’t try one of everything on the menu. I have a dual purpose and besides reviewing the quality of the food, I wanted to show what a normal meal would cost. So this time around I ordered a spicy tuna roll, and fried vegetable dumplings with a salad of mixed greens.


No fancy china here! Paper plates, trays, and great food for mere dollars.

I have never tried the sushi here before, so I took the plunge. No surprise, it was delicious. Properly executed (rolled perfectly with the ingredients consistently distributed through the while roll), and it cost a meager $4.29. If you can find sushi of this quality in Manhattan (or any other borough), let me know. Of course, the dumplings were on point. They were browned perfectly. The outside was nice and crisp, and the vegetables were still full of life (not an easy task after they were blanched then fried). The salad was excellent, too. The ginger-inspired vinaigrette that was tossed in was a great extra. The 8 dumplings and the salad put me back $5.99. So the meal ran me about $11 (and I could have taken 4 dumplings with me and still have been satisfied).

Vanessa’s also has other great selections. My sister swears by the drinks, especially the bubble teas. Their pancake sandwiches are fairly bad-ass as well. But their miso soup is out of this world. I am fairly well traveled and versed in most Asian culinary preparations… and the miso soup here is on par with any I have ever tasted.

Besides being very affordable and being masters of the dumpling, they are fast and efficient. So if you need a quick snack or have a short lunch, this is your ballpark. Vanessa’s also has two other locations at 310 Bedford Ave and 220 East 14th St.

Thanks for reading and I hope this gets you fed well at a broke-ass price. Feel free to leave a comment, I will respond to all that require one.

Next week I’ll be hooking you up with two of my personal recipes that are easy to execute, won’t thin your wallet out and are sure to please.

Vanessa’s Dumpling House
Mon-Sun 7:30 am – 10:30 pm
118 Eldridge St. (between Broome St & Grand St)
[Lower East Side]

Photo Credit: Vanessa’s Dumplings

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Ted Wolfe - Le Chintzy Chef

Ted Wolfe - Le Chintzy Chef

Food! It's my passion and my love. I've been classically trained and spent over 15 years in the culinary industry learning the art of being a Chef. Unfortunately, my commitment to my craft doesn't carry a CEO's salary. There are two things I know: food and being broke! I'm taking all my education, culinary experience, and passion and hooking you up with the best recipes and the best places to eat all on Ebenezer Scrooge's budget!