Wontons w/Red Chili Oil
Burp Bowl Cafe
134 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016
As an inveterate New Yorker, I have pondered the difference between dumplings and wontons for a very long time. Dough (thick or thinly wound), intimately engaged in a relationship with meat and broth. Well, at the incongruously named Burp Bowl Cafe, don't ponder too long. They're out of the dumplings. So wontons it is. And let me tell you, whatever the difference, these are sublime!
Allow me to set the stage. Burp Bowl Cafe is one of those ubiquitous East Side, Curry Hill, mainly window shop takeout joints. There is a counter. There are two tables. There is something in plain sight resembling a kitchen where the alchemy takes place. The menu is scratched in chalk, in Chinese (!!) on a chalkboard in the front. There are also the traditional photos of the six dishes, photographed sometime after the Chinese Revolution and laminated ever since. Six dishes. One out.
The joyful news is served in a standard ceramic/plastic decorated Chinatown knick knack. It is so full of wispy thin dumplings that you can barely see the bottom of the bowl. The diaphanous packets swim in a rich beef broth laced and colored with a healthy, but not overpowering dose of tawny red, not oily oil. Ask and ye shall receive an extra dollop of chili paste. I asked. I sweated. As each dumpling disappeared in a fragrant pork-filled gulp, it seemed like more materialized. And miraculously swimming amidst the noodle goodness were several delicate bok choys.
Through a translator I learned that Burp has been taken over by the congenial Mr. Lo. He has been there only a month and a half. Based on the two million apartment units that fill this popular Kip's Bay neighborhood, I trust he will be there for a good while longer.