Monday, April 11, 2011

Lumi Empanada & Dumpling Kitchen - Dallas, TX

Had a chance to break out the skin tight black shirt today, as I had a scheduled lunch at this trendy new place in Uptown.

Actually, I can't knock this place.  It's one of three places which have been developed on a stretch of McKinney that I always thought was a terrible waste.  Old houses between Hall and Lemmon, which for years have housed worthless retail ventures, have long been ripe for being turned into a series of restaurants to complement the Quarter, Primos, and those in West Village.  I'm extremely glad to see that it's been done, and am sorry that it has taken me this long to get over there.  With these in place, it's easy to make an evening of just this block.

Destination.  Lumi.

You're right.  I didn't take this picture, though I do take most of mine.  Dark = night.  Light = day.  Simple rule of thumb.

I had lunch there.

So remember this picture, and I'm going to ask you all to close your eyes.  I want you to listen to me.  I want you to listen to yourselves.  Go ahead.  Close your eyes, please.

This is a story about a little restaurant on a previously underdeveloped piece of land.  I want you to picture this little restaurant.

Suddenly, a car races up.  A six foot white guy jumps out and walks up to the porch.

He looks around.

No one is there.

But it's only 11:20.

He sits down on the porch.  He's given a menu.  He's given silverware.

Now comes the ice water.  It's cool.  It's refreshing.  It's everything that the guys in the street jackhammering are not.

His friend shows up.  She sits down.  They just can't handle the jackhammering.

So they stand.  They walk into the dining room.  They sit down.

They're given menus.  They order.

Can you see them?  Their stomachs pained with hunger?  The expressions on their faces yearning for the savory tastes of the dumplings they just ordered?

Can you see them?

I want you to picture those two people, sitting in that dining room.  Sitting.  Waiting.  Waiting for their dumplings.

Can you see them?

Now imagine it's light.

Thank you, Counselor.

Anyway sorry, this place has had a decent amount of fanfare when it opened which, in Dallas, always makes me a little skeptical that it will overpromise and underdeliver, becoming one of those places that is more see and be seen than eat and be ea...well, eat and be satisfied anyway.  I will say though, more of these places have surprised me to the positive in the last couple of years, so I need to quash those fears, because Dallas seems to be evolving to the good.

This place is exactly what it needs to be for the location.  Great porch, great little bar, spacious dining room, and food that isn't going to make you uncomfortably full as you start an evening of social drinking nearby.

The menu looks great, and after taking a look at their website, I understand it's supposed to be Vietnamese South American fusion.  Several good looking soups and salads, a couple of sandwiches, and a focus on homemade dumplings and empanadas.

I decided to try a couple of their dumplings, and my dining companion tried one of the ones I didn't.  With six to an order and nothing accompanying them, I figured two orders was the way to go, and think I was right.  I walked away satisfied, but not too full.  And I probably could have comfortably gone with one more order, or a salad or soup to start.

Classic Pork and Chive Dumplings, served with house sauce, and Chinese 5 Spice Duck and Leek Dumplings, served with spicy plum sauce.

Both excellent.

I'm not sure which was my favorite.  The duck had more aggressive flavors, the pork was mild, and both went perfectly with each of the sauces they were served with.  I recommend both.

The other one shown here was the Shrimp, Cilantro, and Jicama Dumplings, served with sweet and sour sauce.  I'm told it was great, but as much as it pains me to say it, I don't do shrimp.

As long as I'm in Dallas, I'll be back here.  It's a great spot for lunch but I think an even better spot to grab a drink, some food, and then head down the street to the Quarter for the evening.


Atmosphere:  old house converted to restaurant, bar to sit at, plenty of outdoor seating, good for a group, great for a date, great for a start to the night, good place to see, good place to be seen

Food:  dumplings and empanadas

Dog Friendly:  doubtful, despite outdoor seating, Dallas sucks

When to Go:  lunch, happy hour, dinner

Crowd:  typical Uptowners, hotchicks, businesslunchers, 20somethings, 30somethings, trendsters, Dallasites

What to Order for the First Timer:  Duck Dumplings, Pork Dumplings

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