I’ve been here many times and through the years I’ve managed to weed out what I don’t like and stick with what I like.
I don’t know why it has such bad reviews on Yelp, but I figure if you go to a Korean joint and order “Japanese” food and then complain about it not being good — well, I don’t know what to say.
Dumplings & Noodles is a Korean establishment and serves predominantly Korean style dishes but there is also ramen, udon, Japanese curry, katsu, teriyaki and tempura on the menu. I pretty much stick to what I like and that means the Korean offerings.
I usually come here with my friends Lena and Jenny, both Korean, and we always order steamed dumplings, #1 on the menu ($5.52). I’m really picky when it comes to dumpling — well, maybe not only dumplings — and the wrapper and filling has to be just right or else it ruins the entire eating experience.
These are in my top three Korean-style dumplings in Orange County, and that says a lot. The filling has a good vegetable to meat ratio and that is very important to me. I loathe dumplings that are filled with mostly meat because the inside becomes a hard lump. The moisture from the vegetables help keep it a good consistency.
Generally, steamed dumplings tend to be drier than boiled dumplings but these are so good with no sign of dryness at all.
You can create your own dipping sauce from the condiments available on the table — soy, vinegar and a sprinkle of chili powder is what I like.
Chewy cold noodles and vegetables with chili sauce #44 ($7.36) are indeed chewy and so refreshing on a hot day.
The sauce is made from gojujang (Korean red chili paste), vinegar and sugar, so the end result is tart, slightly sweet noodle dish with a kick to it. Julienned cucumbers, soybean sprouts and shredded lettuce are mixed in and half a boiled egg lends a little protein to the dish. It is quite delicious.
I make kimchi fried rice at home with very fermented kimchi. The version here — stir fried rice with kimchi #90 ($8.28) — is milder than what I’m used to which means fresher kimchi is used.
Kimchi dumplings are good too if you are a fan of kimchi. If you are not, well I don’t know why you would even go eat Korean food — just kidding! There are so many different things to eat in Korean cuisine that you can bypass kimchi altogether if you wanted to.
They do give you three types of banchan — kimchi, vinegared daikon cubes and Japanese pickled daikon called takuan, but they are lame.
There is a reason why the name of the place is Dumplings & Noodles. My advice is to stick with the Korean fare — namely, dumplings and noodles — and stay away from the items they borrow from other cuisines.
Dumpling & Noodle House
13256 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92602