Review: Dumpling Girls at Goods Local Brews
May 13, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.
Patio season is coming, and with it comes patio-friendly eats. The weather is finally trending in the right direction, but a few weeks ago, I braved a cold and windy afternoon for a meal at the Dumpling Girls food truck at Goods Local Brews on Northwest Avenue.
Starting off with the vegetarian spring rolls, a relative bargain at six for $6, my expectations were high. Spoiler alert: They meet those expectations. These are possibly my favorite spring rolls I’ve had in Bellingham, and it’s apparent they fry these to order. They’re shatteringly crispy and ethereally light — and more, they’re like this every time I visit. The accompanying sauce is a plain Jane sweet-and-sour, which is absolutely the right choice. (Like the day the Cascadia Daily newsroom held its own ranch dressing contest, the time spent making from-scratch recipes for dipping sauces is often wasted.)
With the crab rangoon following up, we kept the crispy train rolling on schedule (and on the rails). Invented at Trader Vic’s in Los Angeles in the mid-1950s, these are a distinctly American dish, but hot dog, do I love them. Dumpling Girls’ are a very classic take on these. While they’re not a standout, they’re as good as any rangoon I’ve had, and as such, are worthy of your consumption. At $8 for five, they’re cleverly numbered so you can’t split them evenly, so you might as well get a second order.
On to the main course, and the main draw — the dumplings. On this occasion, we got beef and vegetable dumplings. Eight dollars for six dumplings provides some cost equity for omnivores and vegetarians alike (for once). The vegetable dumplings were loaded with a slaw-like mixture of crisp vegetables and the vibrant flavor of Chinese five spice. While an excellent vegetarian dumpling, these don't hold a candle to the beef.
Similarly spiced, the primary difference is the absolute mass of beef in the heart of each of these. Too many dumplings feature the barest suggestion of meat — wherein a particle of beef is passed through the vicinity of the dumplings. Not an issue here. You get your money's worth. Dipping in the included spicy dumpling sauce is an amateur move; tear a corner off with your teeth and tip a measure down inside the dumpling.
The next course up was the pork bun. Massive fried bao filled with pork and vegetables, these are arguably the best value on the menu at $12 for four — easily feeding two people of a lightly hungry persuasion. I wasn't terribly fond of these as I found the bun itself to be a bit too greasy. But after a couple beers, I'd see the appeal.
Another course? Another course. The spicy cumin lamb skewers ($16 for five) atop a bed of fried oyster mushrooms is a strangely complex dish to be had at a food truck, but one I was glad to try. While I felt the lamb was a touch overcooked, the spice and cumin came through strong. The real sleeper was the fried oyster mushrooms. These were great finger food, not too greasy, and delightfully crispy. I'd love to be able to purchase an entire bowl of these on their own.
With dessert calling, we popped open the last of our boxes — donuts, drizzled with a condensed milk glaze. Fried to order and served hot, these are crispy on the outside and dripping with the sugary, creamy condensed milk glaze. They’re not like a fresh Krispy Kreme; these have a solid density to them. They are incredibly messy, so using a fork is highly recommended. I spent a decent amount of time removing bits of solidified condensed milk out of my beard. A small price to pay — besides the $6 you’ll shell out for three.
With a stack of empty takeout boxes and red-checkered food boats in front of us, and eyeballing the people lining up at the food truck for sustenance, I went around the table to confirm — yes, Dumpling Girls is a hell of a truck. Food trucks at a brewery or taphouse aren’t uncommon, but earning resident status is indicative of a deeply symbiotic relationship.
Dumpling Girls puts out consistent quality and delicious food, and has been doing so for years. They’re not showing any signs of slowing down, and as the sun starts to stick around a while longer, you owe it to yourself to give them a try. You deserve it.
Dumpling Girls is open from noon to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at Goods Local Brews, 2620 Northwest Ave., Bellingham.