When it comes to eating in New York’s Chinatown, dim sum reigns supreme. Whether you’d prefer to wait hours in line outside of Joe’s Shanghai, or feast on lo mein in the subterranean dining room of an unmarked Canal Street venue, the cuisine is not in short order. But chef Dale Talde (of Top Chef fame) is bringing something new to New York’s Asian food scene with the recent opening of his eighth restaurant, Rice & Gold: pho soup dumplings.
“We’re in iconic Chinatown. There’s some phenomenal soup dumplings here,” Talde tells Thrillist. “I wanted to make something that set us apart.”
The long-awaited restaurant, stationed on the ground floor of Hotel 50 Bowery, serves a full spread of innovative Asian dishes centered around Talde’s new-wave take on classic dim sum. Most prominently featured are Talde’s update on traditional soup dumplings -- ground beef and pork stuffed dumplings brimming with pho broth. “Pho is like soul food. Real soul food,” says Talde. “It warms you through and through.”
To prepare the popular dish, Talde stirs seasoned ground beef, pork, cinnamon, garlic, scallions, and fish sauce into his famous pho broth, before clarifying the stuff into gelatinous cubes. He stuffs these cubes inside rounds of house-made dough, twists them off at the top, and steams them to order -- which ultimately returns the broth to its original soupy form. Finally, he tops each dumpling with basil, shaved red onion, and pickled chili, before arranging them on a traditional bamboo serving platter.
While Talde’s menu is often tagged as Asian fusion, he resents the term. “My parents are from the Philippines, I grew up in Chicago, and now I live in Brooklyn,” he claims “It’s like, I can’t get any more fusion than that.” Rather than borrow from the best of separate cuisines and meld them together, Talde argues he’s far more interested in finding a respectful way to honor the glorious tradition of shared meals, without diminishing or overriding any one set of cultural flavors. “We’re in Chinatown -- one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City,” he explains. “And we’re trying to say that Chinatown isn’t just $5 plate lunches and knock off Louis Vuitton bags -- it’s a premier neighborhood. Just like Chelsea, just like Meatpacking, just like Gramercy: We are a destination in New York City that is premier.”
Beyond simple soul food, it seems that what Talde is creating is more accurately an ode to New York’s Chinatown and the spectrum of food cultures housed within. Pho soup dumplings are the start to that very ode.