$5 Lunch: Kuai Dumplings & Soups

img_0088In a few months, D Magazine is moving downtown. While this is very exciting news, we’ve all been a little sad about leaving our favorite lunch (and happy hour) spots behind, like Al Biernat’s, La Duni, and Mint.

This is all to say that when I was looking for my $5 lunch, I decided on Kuai Dumplings & Soups partly because of their downtown location. The restaurant is just a short walk from our new building, so I thought I would scope out a future lunch spot. I’ve also been craving dumplings lately and had heard pretty good things about theirs.

The dumplings were good. Here is a picture of the 8 pack of pork dumplings my friend ordered. They were hot, soft, and the pork filling had a nice bite of ginger. They cost $5.50. This is what I should have ordered. Jump for what I had (insert ominous sound here).

Kuai is very small and built for take-out business. They are located in the Republic Tower downtown (there’s another location on Elm Street) and you have to go down an escalator to find it. There is also a Dickey’s barbeque and a Quiznos down there. There was only one table, so we took our food to one of the tables that are located under the escalator.

I ordered a large wonton soup for $5.50. This might seem random to some of you, but here’s the thing. When I lived in New York I ate at a restaurant called Kelley and Ping many days for lunch. Their version of wonton soup with chicken was heavenly. They served it in an enormous white bowl almost as big as the table, and the broth was so chicken-y and hot and flavorful I can still taste it. The wontons were plump and round and fit right into the white soup spoons we were given (I’m not sure of their exact name but they look like this). The soup was also filled with bok choy and roasted chicken, and we were given sriracha sauce and soy sauce to add to it. So, that’s what I had in mind when I ordered this soup.

img_0087This is what I got. The broth in this soup was practically devoid of flavor. No salt. On top were small pieces chopped bok choy. They added crunch, but no flavor. The wontons in the soup were leaden, especially in comparison to the light ones my friend ordered. There were about eight of them in the soup. They were triangle shaped and filled with pork (they are supposed to be mixed, but mine weren’t). I’ve read that wontons for soup are usually only filled with meat (no ginger, scallions, etc) so that wasn’t a surprise, but the wrapper was so doughy and overpowering, it was all we could taste.It was also served with two packets of fried wontons, as you can see in the picture.

My friend said it was the worst soup he had ever had. Now, that’s harsh…but this was not good soup. It was $5.50.We got a free iced tea because it was our first time at the restaurant (it’s a deal they give all first-timers) and I tried the unsweetened peach mango, and I liked it a lot. The service was extremely quick and everyone was very nice at Kuai. If you order anything over $7.50, you get a free yogurt too, so there’s another reason to try it out. And the prices are really quite good for lunch (many choices for under $5 or $6). But please stick with the dumplings.

I probably will return to Kuai when we move offices if I’m craving a dumpling. But I’ve got to find a new place for my soup fix.

16 comments on “$5 Lunch: Kuai Dumplings & Soups

  1. I had a freelance job in that office building a few months ago and ate at Kaui at least 3 times a week. I LOVEd the Summer Roll Soup–if you dare the soup again–try this one. Tons of shrimp, flavor, vermicelli-basically the inside of a spring roll in a great broth. Also, MUST NOTE, you can buy their delish dumplings frozen and they are so easy to cook at home. Great and inexpensive for small dinner parties too! Enjoy.

  2. Sarah,

    Sorry you did not enjoy our wonton soup. Just so you know, we have a money back guarantee on all of our menu items. If you’re not satisfied, just let us know. We’d love it if you came down and tried another one of our dishes. The Summer Roll Soup mentioned above uses the same pork broth that we use in our wonton soup, so if you didn’t like the wonton, that may not be the best option for you. Also, if you ask, the staff is happy to give you a free taste of the different rice bowl options that we have.

    I hope you give us another shot and thanks for the feedback.

    Chris

  3. Thanks Chris. I’ve also heard good things about the rice bowls, so I’ll be back for a second try once we make the move.

  4. If you’re looking for a good won ton soup, you may want to try First Chinese BBQ.

  5. The hot and sour soup is delicious. The ginger salad is great, the egg drop soup is good and the dumplings are wonderful. You should give it another try.

  6. I wasn’t impressed with the wonton soup at First Chinese BBQ. I recall the broth having a canned/boxed taste and the wontons themselves were not memorable. Although not Chinese, Royal Thai does a very nice, more fresh-tasting version with shrimp, roast pork, and bok choy.

  7. I eat at Kuai with a coworker probably 2 to 3 times a week. The rice bowls are delicious…I alternate between the Thai bowl and the Bombay bowl. Oh yeah, the new fish dish is fantastic as well. Seriously the most flavorful healthy eats around. If you like ginger, the ginger tea is absolutely addicting.

  8. The rice bowls are very good. I always get the tokyo bowl with white rice and edamame. I don’t like steamed dumplings, but I haven’t heard any complaints from those that do. I thought they were better than the ones at Doozu or whatver that place is called that everyone loves in downtown Houston.

  9. I work in DTD and eat at Kuai about once a month or so and it’s a great place to get a healthy tasty lunch. I enjoy the fresh brown rice with either a Thai or Tokyo bowl or chicken dumplings and edamame. The dipping sauces are also very tasty. My first visit there I received a free drink (and so did Hunter to took me there). Kuai is definitely an awesome place to lunch.

  10. When I worked downtown, I must’ve eaten at Kuai 3 times a week (my co-workers were a little concerned about my obsession to be honest).

    When I left that job, the saddest part was not being able to eat at Kuai so often. Seriously!

    It’s great food. The owners are great guys. I miss that place like crazy.

    Oh, and their ginger tea–I want it at my wedding.

  11. I’d rather have Sonny B’s BBQ next door, with the free ice cream! But that’s just me….

  12. The wonton soup is not the best. But, I love their miso soup. The seaweed salad and the spring rolls (summer rolls?) are very good as well. I eat there quite often. And that iced tea is delicious. They have a lot of flavors, but I like the regular unsweetened best. Excellent. And they are soooo nice there! The frozen yogurt with the mango puree is delicious. Go back once you move downtown. You’ll find your perfect little lunch. I didn’t even know they had a new fish dish. I’ll be in on Monday for that!

  13. Oh, and once you’re downtown, go up the ramp by Sonny B’s and take a right to check out Poblano’s. It’s a little more than $5. But, they’ve got real grilled beef and chicken fajita meat. There’s a Taco Bell in the food court, too. But, it’s hard to pass up Poblano’s when you’re really hungry. It’s so much better than other Mexican fast food. You should try it.

  14. Comparing a $5 bowl of soup from a carryout only place in the downtown Dallas tunnel with a $10 bowl of soup from a full service restaurant in SoHO is unfair – like comparing the cheeseburger at Al Bernat’s with a burger from Steak and Shake. They both serve their purpose but are not in the same league. Kuai Dumplings and Soup has plenty of good things to write about.