Dumpling Man Sign; Photo -- Youngna ParkWe all sang songs about the Muffin Man as kids, but what about the Dumpling Man? With growing fondness for the East Village block of St. Mark’s Place between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, where hoards of cheap eats including Hummus Place, Crif Dogs, Yaffa Café, and the chocolate shop Australian Homemade take residence, Gothamist and friends stopped in to see how the Dumpling Man (100 St. Mark’s Place) stood up to their bargain competitors.

Hit with the pungent smell of hot sauce when walking in, we instantly took note of the steamers and searing pans operating at full force. The hole-in-the wall eatery, with no actual tables, but two long counters with bar stools at varying heights, seats no more than twenty at full capacity. Gothamist decided to try a combination of the seared and steamed dumplings, which come with pork, chicken, veggie, or shrimp fillings, described in glowing colors on the giant-size menu painted on the wall.

Dumpling Man Dumplings -- Photo, Youngna ParkDumpling Man also offers “Marco Polo” and “Red Monster” dumplings. We passed up the Marco Polo variety, the venue’s attempt at ultimate pasta-dumpling fusion, a concoction described as “East meets West – steamed Asian dumplings in homemade Basilico pasta sauce with crushed tomato, fried shallots, extra virgin olive oil, sweet basil and parmesan.” Gothamist did enjoy a taste of the Red Monster dumplings, referring to the sauce they come with made of red pepper, wild pepper, garlic, green onion, rice vinegar, soy sauce, vegetable oil, Chinese pickle, and ground peanuts. The sauce kicked up our taste buds, but was not too spicy to enjoy.

Prices vary slightly from one variety of dumplings to the next, but they can be ordered in batches of 6, 10, or more. Prices range from $3.95 for 6 seared pork dumplings to $7.95 for 10 steamed shrimp dumplings. The dumplings can also be mixed and matched – the price per dumpling is 70 – 90 cents.

Dumpling Man Dumplings -- Photo, Youngna ParkIn the end, Gothamist and our dining companions unanimously enjoyed the seared dumplings over the steamed dumplings. Seared chicken came in first as most flavorful with a nicely textured wrapper and filling, while the steamed veggie was a bit mushy and fell apart. Gothamist noticed the veggie dumplings were seared in the same pan as the meat-filled dumplings, so vegetarians might want to be wary, though if requested, they might cook them for you separately.

Incapable of eating a dinner without dessert afterwards, Gothamist split a green tea flan with dining companions, but was disappointed by the lack of flavor and uneven texture. Made specifically for Dumpling Man by Tia’s Flan (Red bean, Vanilla, and Pumpkin are also available), Gothamist wonders if the subtlety of the green tea flavor is to blame or if we should save dessert for the chocolate bar across the street.

Gothamist has mixed feelings about Dumpling Man: it’s hot food at a bargain price, freshly made, and fast. However, with Chinatown just a hop, skip, and jump away, we’re more likely to head to New Green Bo or Yeah Shanghai Deluxe for dumplings. Or, for a variant, to Veselka on 2nd Ave & 9th Avenue for homemade Ukranian pierogies. Still, filling and kind to the wallet, if you’re in the East Village, drop in and grab a bite at Dumpling Man.

Dumpling Man, 100 St. Mark’s Place, Open Tuesday – Sunday, 12:30 p.m. – midnight
(212)505-2121 with delivery to a limited area