Once upon a time, three little tweeps named @demandycom, @thegourmez, and @BCwritr decided to meet up for dinner at a new restaurant by the locally famed David Mao. This was fated, because all three loved food and hanging out with others who also loved food. A date was set and other tweeps of the same persuasion were invited along. Lo and behold, the anointed time and place came to pass and food and fellowship were had. Thus began the Social Media Supper Club. The moral of the story, I have been told, is “It’s not your corner Darryl’s anymore.”
David’s Dumpling and Noodle Bar
1900 Hillsborough Road, Raleigh
A rainbow joined us at the entrance to David’s Dumpling and Noodle Bar. A good sign, no?
Inside, a group of fifteen of us hung out at the bar while waiting for a table, which was amazingly fast considering they don’t take reservations and just sat another large group right before us.
I blame my bad focus for this set of photos on my camera being on the fritz. Sure, its problems have nothing to do with focusing, but I’m blaming it anyway. One must not admit their own shortcomings. As you can see, the space is quite open, with two rows of tables around the bar, leading into a larger room where we were sat. Large pictures of Chef Mao making dumplings and noodles are hung all around the green, blue, and brick walls. He has the most gigantic hands we’ve ever seen, though they seemed strangely normal-sized as he made the rounds at various table, saying hello to guests. A trick of the eye, I’m sure. I thought the background music was a great choice: good beats at a volume just high enough to make the restaurant feel more happening than it was.
As for libations, I tried the Kikusui sake, which was a tad sweet, really good, and tasted of caramel and orange water. The beer drinkers all enjoyed the Great Divide Samurai rice ale. No full bar for the present at least. As for food, nearly all of us opted to try a few of the appetizers ($2.50–$6.00), noodle plates ($5.50–$9.00), and “Quick Stir” dishes ($10)—stir-fry is so passé—rather than the entrees ($16) to see if the dumplings and noodles were worthy of claiming the restaurant’s name. The small plates, soups, and apps are a great deal, especially the noodles that were plenty large enough to be a full meal on their own.
For dumplings, the crispy, spicy ones were declared the hands-down winners. I didn’t try them, but their sauce was especially exclaimed over. My dumplings came by way of a chinese greens, dumplings, and noodle soup.
Those bowls were totally fun. I thought the broth tasted very simple and clean, and it was made a million times more interesting with the addition of that fantastic house sriracha sauce on the little plate in front. The cut of pork was great, as were the crisp green onions. For some of the other diners, the broth was too simple.
I also had the Singapore chicken noodles, which came with carrots, bean sprouts, and broccoli.
It was less greasy than you might find elsewhere and thus seemed healthier, but otherwise, I’d call it a fairly standard Chinese noodle dish. My husband’s Hunan beef was much the same, in that it tasted fine but nothing stood out.
He gave it an “Ok,” which is what he gives most everything, so make of that what you will.
My favorite dish, though the memory of that sriracha still lingers, was the stuffed eggplant with shrimp.
The shrimp was missing in action. If I had to guess, I’d say it was chopped up and layered in the eggplant breading, but if so, it had very little flavor. That didn’t matter, though, because the eggplant was divine. I love when that purple veggie gets fried to delicious, mushy, warm goodness. The thick sauce complemented it well.
Reactions to the other dishes ranged greatly. The beef with black bean sauce was delicious, though the beef in other dishes was thought to be overcooked. “Fabulous,” was the word on the hot and sour soup while the shrimp in the sautéed thai basil shrimp entrée were overpowered by the other ingredients. The red bean ice cream had a wonderful sweetness and texture combination.
Overall impressions went from “awesome” to “nothing blew me away.” I fall in the middle and would describe David’s Dumpling and Noodle Bar just as its name advertises: simple comfort food and preparations done in a healthier manner than a Chinese take-out. If I lived in Raleigh, it would easily be my choice for Chinese food out, and the atmosphere was welcoming and soothing. Just don’t expect fancy, inventive preparations like Chef Mao created at the Duck and Dumpling.
As for the tale of the Social Media Supper Club, it ended well with full bellies, pleasant conversations, and enough rice beer for all!
Will there be a sequel? Only time and the mellow, lax decision-making process of the organizers will tell. Let us know if you’d like to come to the next one, and what restaurants you’d like to check out if so. If anyone has more pictures to share, please link to them in the comments.
Posted: Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 @ 12:07 pm
Categories: Discussion, Restaurants, sake.
Tags: chef mao, chinese comfort food, chinese food, david mao, david's dumpling and noodle bar, dumplings, noodles, rice beer, sake, social media supper club.
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