Chapter 1 – The Dumpling
The life of the actor living in New York City is like getting bitten in the face by a large dog – it’s a difficult process in every way. And when finding affordible sustenance can be a task, it’s easy to see why people come and go all too rapidly from the acting profession. What I will offer to do in these following articles, is attempt to make a small but important part of the actors life a bit more manageable by revealing the most affordable and most nourishing eats that I know of in the City. As time goes by, and more of my articles are created, you will soon discover that no matter what part of the city you may find yourself in, you will never be too far away from a haven of affordable nosh to keep you going through these difficult financial times. I begin with a discovery that I made about seven years ago, forgot about, and then re-discovered only very recently, and it is that of The Dumpling.
Now maybe this is just me, but I sometimes like to imagine how I would survive in situations in which I suddenly find myself homeless. Perhaps it has something to do with being part of an industry in which your salary is random, and more often than not, mind-blowingly depressing. Perhaps it’s because I’m creative in ways which are for the most part a huge waste of time. For whatever the reason may be, I have made some impressive finds while playing this little “game,” and once I have gotten past pondering over the best way to cook pigeons over an open flame, there are some real treats to be had. The first of which is the Dumpling. There are many dumpling houses in New York City, and most of them are different in as far as affordability goes, and overall quality of the product. Some dumplings are very small – about as round as a half dollar. These are terrible. You order six dumplings and expect a meal, but what you recieve instead are what appear to be the droppings from a larger dumpling, and quite frankly you wish that you had received that dumpling and not it’s excrement. Some dumplings are clearly not dumplings at all, but pieroges. These will do – but you wish that someone had told you the truth from the very beginning, and not pulled this surpise trick on you. You wouldn’t have even been mad, because the pieroge’s are good and all that – you just don’t like being lied to, okay?
This is crap.
But the place to find the best dumplings for the most affordable price is at “Vanessa’s Dumpling House” on 118A Eldridge st, between Grand and Broome st in Manhattan’s Chinatown. At this wonderful place you can buy four chive and pork fried dumplings for a dollar. A DOLLAR! They do not skimp out on size or flavor either – these dumplings are neither tiny or yucky. For two dollars you will find yourself with EIGHT dumplings which is a meal that will leave you satisfied. Perhaps pork isn’t your thing? No worries – they have others including basil & chicken, vegetable, and shrimp. All the other dumplings are boiled (the healtheir option), though in my humble opinion, aren’t nearly as good as their fried counterparts. Besides dumplings, they have buns, soups, and sesame pancake sandwiches – all of which are incredibly affordable and equally delicious. They will even sell you frozen dumplings in bulk so you can get your fix whenever you want. 50 chive and pork dumplings are only nine bucks. Hell yes!
This is a god damned pieroge.
Though there are seats and tables at Vanessa’s (which is opening another locati on 14th street and 3rd avenue), I reccommend getting your food to go, because the place has all the aesthetic of a violent lobotomy. It’s crammed, people are smelly, people are slurping, people are yelling – I generally find that the time I spend in there waiting for my food is about all I can stand – luckily just a few streets south is a park area with benches and soccer fields and such. Bring your food there and then sit down and relax. Soon you will be bringing home bags of frozen dumplings – I guarantee it.
A bit of warning***
If you are one of those people who only eat grass fed beef or shrimps cought from the freshest part of the sea – this place might not be for you. I cannot guarantee that it’s actually pork in the dumplings and not seagull flesh. I’m pretty sure the shrimp are actually just sea monkeys. If you are picky choosy about food, find another place to eat. If you like cheap yummy wonder, then this place is right up your alley.
Join me next time folks, when I’ll be revealing the most affordable sushi the city has to offer.