In 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.
This 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.