Dumpling Daughter, Weston location
There is something particularly comforting about a bowl of buttery noodles and steaming dumplings on a cold winter night. That’s why my family has been turning so often to the reliably good takeout from Dumpling Daughter.
The Weston location is almost 20 minutes from us — there are about a dozen Chinese restaurants closer to home — but the trip feels like a small inconvenience for food that is always full of flavor, never greasy.
Dumplings are a must (they’re part of the restaurant’s identity, after all). The steamed pork and chive are salty goodness, bringing just the right ratio of meat to wrapper. The Sichuan dumplings come in their own spicy sauce; no dipping required.
Vegetable spring rolls are a crunchy treat and don’t feel oily or heavy. The sweet sauce on the side is tangy and fresh, not cloying. These rolls are special enough to be named for Sally Ling, the mother of Dumpling Daughter’s Nadia Liu Spellman, who inspired many of her dishes.
Braised pork belly buns are a small indulgence: tender pork, topped with fresh cucumber and cilantro, tucked inside a pillowy bread.
You could fill up on the small plates, but do yourself a favor and order some noodles. (The leftovers make an easy next-day lunch).
The scallion lo mein is a perfectly respectable choice, but my go-to dish is the butter miso noodles. The flavor is more subtle than some of the other items on the menu, but add chicken and vegetables when you order, and these noodles make a satisfying meal on their own. They’re also toddler-approved and easy for my daughter to feed herself while Mommy goes for another dumpling.
Like the rest of this menu, the veggies are never boring. Try crispy Brussels sprouts with creamy mayonnaise and spicy Sriracha, or kick up the heat with eggplant in yu hsiang garlic sauce. The baby bok choy is simpler but a pleasant complement to the fiery dishes.
There are vegan and gluten-free options, and the restaurant even sells frozen dumplings that you can prepare later at home.
I have never eaten inside Dumpling Daughter; the Weston location has been takeout-only during the pandemic. But unpacking the dishes from little black containers and eating at the kitchen table doesn’t feel like much of a loss. After all, this is comfort food.
Dumpling Daughter, 37 Center St., Weston, 781-216-8989, dumplingdaughter.com. Dumplings, buns, and snacks $6-$10, vegetables $12, noodles $9-$17, rice bowls $11-$22. (There are also locations in Cambridge and Brookline.)
PRIYANKA DAYAL McCLUSKEY
I very clearly remember being a Rhode Island newbie, having moved to Cranston from New Haven in 2003. Some things here became apparent very quickly: any drive more than 3 miles is just plain too far; the Big Blue Bug, and, even more strangely, the Cardi’s Furniture brothers, have celebrity status; you WILL get a parking ticket on your car downtown in the time it takes you to get the change for the meter out of the cup holder. But the most important: This state takes its food very seriously.
If you want to be a real Rhode Islander, you have to eat like one (but I still don’t like you, coffee milk, even if you are the state drink). Thankfully, more than one person gave me the same advice: The first step toward official Ocean State indoctrination is a trip to the Hill. In Providence, that’s Federal Hill, the Rhode Island equivalent of the North End, home to a string of Italian restaurants where red sauce (or what it’s more appropriately called, gravy) is a staple. Options here range from fancy, reservation-required, date-night fare to more approachable locales — places, thankfully, where there’s no need for heels (or even, since COVID took hold of our fashion choices, hard pants). A standout among these for takeout is Caserta, an establishment in Providence since the 1950s, famous for its pizza and the “Wimpy Skippy.” To call this just a spinach pie feels like an understatement: It’s soft, pillowy dough, stuffed with seasoned, but not too garlicky, spinach and melty cheese, with black olives and pepperoni all baked inside the fluffy crust. I ordered one, along with a large pizza and a (decent enough but very forgettable) Caesar salad, to share with my two daughters, and the spinach pie was gone before I even got the plates on the table. That left the pizza, a square pie covered in mozzarella, mushrooms, and pepperoni, with dollops of tomato sauce on top of a chewy, crispy-on-the bottom crust. Make sure to order cheese as a topping — a regular pie here just comes topped with the chunky sauce. Extra sauce is a good call, too. But if, for some inexplicable reason, you don’t feel like eating pizza, you’re out of luck here — not much else is on the menu.
Caserta has one more thing that locals crave: Free, easy parking, which is a rarity on the Hill. The restaurant has its own lot, which makes grabbing takeout from here quick and convenient. In the nicer weather, walk across the street to Pastiche, a European-style café, and pick up a to-go dessert that looks like it belongs in a magazine. We are still wearing stretchy pants, after all.
Caserta Pizzeria, 121 Spruce St., Providence, 401-272-3618, casertapizzeria.com. Pizzas start at $9 for a small cheese, $17.50 for a large; other food items are $3.50 to $5.75.
Seoul Soulongtang, Allston
I’ve always thought of food as a vehicle for new stories or traveling into different cultures. But when I miss home, there are few things I crave more than a steamy, comforting bowl of Korean soulongtang.
There’s something straightforwardly soothing about the signature ox bone broth, meant to be salted heavily and always served with a bowl of rice. Wherever I’ve eaten it — from strip-mall joints in Southern California to my favorite no-frills haunt in Seoul — the thin slices of brisket and glassy noodles always carry a sense of something familiar and grounding.
Allston’s Seoul Soulongtang, thankfully, makes it much easier to remind myself here of that taste of home. The restaurant puts the eponymous broth at the center of its name and menu, though a variety of other offerings mean it’ll also appeal to almost any diner.
Meat lovers can indulge in the LA galbi short ribs or samkyupsal gui pork, staples of any Korean barbecue spread, while the ever-adaptable bibimbap comes with both beef and tofu options for vegetarians. There’s also japchae glass noodles and three different kinds of pajun pancakes, appetizers perfect for sharing family-style.
Our takeout order even came with a generous helping of two kinds of kimchi — the ubiquitous cabbage as well as the kkakdugi cubed radish — which no Korean meal would be complete without.
And the soulongtang itself? It still holds up to my fondest memories of the dish, the cloudy broth packed carefully with sliced green onions for garnish and a thimbleful of salt. The amount of sodium may seem excessive, but don’t fear. The dish is meant to be salted well just before serving, so be generous when you dig in.
Seoul Soulongtang, 1245 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, 617-505-6771, www.seoulsoulongtang.com. Soulongtang $14, appetizers $14-16, entrees $14-30.
Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal. Elizabeth Koh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @elizabethrkoh.