As a follow up to last week's interview with Allan Tea, we are excited to post that the formal grand opening of his new concept is ready to serve starting
Tuesday today. A busy soft open over the weekend gave the kitchen some much needed practice as friends, family and the public lined up for awesomely affordable dumplings and other Chinese savories. Coincidentally, it's also National Dumpling Day! Those first 50 in line when they open are eligible to receive an order of their choice of dumplings and a snazzy dumpling pin.
We stopped in on Friday and Monday to check out the goods and learn more about Paper Lantern Dumpling House. Here's a quick run down of our visits.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, Paper Lantern occupies the former Guppy House spot at Irvine's Diamond Jamboree plaza. While nothing on the menu is over $10 (Black Truffle Xiao Long Bao being the most expensive), chances are they'll run out of dumplings the later you go, so call ahead for availability or phone in an order to make sure. Printing their menu in both Chinese and English, this quick service establishment offers a casual and familiar selection to the Irvine set. Diners old and young will feel welcome inside this modest space.
Countertop dining is what you can expect for seating, unless you can snag one of the few sidewalk tables. Meals are prepared to-order, meaning a wait for your food is normal. And everything is packed in to-go containers, saving time when you're in a rush. Housemade sauce with essence of ginger is their condiment of choice, unless you reach for that familiar, silver-lidded container of heat. Long noodles packing mild spice, plus a handful of vegetarian options provide choices for those opting for such a diet. However, we were down with Northern Chinese flavors of beef rolls, pork chop bowls and scallion pancakes.
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You're likely here for the dumplings, though. While not as freaking adorable as what Honey & Butter posted yesterday, they're pretty tasty. Once you decide on whether you want steamed or pan fried ones, as well as which fillings sound good, it's time to order. A quick dumpling "tutorial" posted by the cash register explains how to get that XLB (the meat and soup-filled ones) goodness in your belly. First, you dip a dumpling into house sauce or your own concoction. You'll then want to take a small bite from one side and slurp up the steaming juice. Lastly, take a few slivers of ginger and top your dumpling for maximum flavor. That's it. If you can score an order with black truffle, do it.
Honorable shout outs to the blossoming "dumpling" tea served hot, custom-flavored iced tea drinks that aren't overly sweet and their sole dessert of deep fried red bean buns. Simple, comforting and affordable. Doors will be opening at 11 a.m. Current operating hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. daily.
Paper Lantern Dumpling House is open at 2730 Alton Pkwy, Ste #101, (949) 748-8064; www.paperlanterndumpling.com.