We’ve seen some interesting and innovative concepts over the years here at AG, but one thing that we’ve noticed over the last several months is more technology integrated into dining experiences. Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, at the west end of Deep Ellum, is one of those interesting technology-based spots, featuring automats that offer easy ordering and pickup.
What is an Automat?
Automats were first used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They served as a sort of hybrid between a cafeteria and a vending machine. The walls of the Automat were lined with individual, glass-fronted compartments containing a plate of food. Diners would choose something they wanted, and by dropping a coin into the aperture beside the desired dish and pulling a lever, the mechanism starts to work and lets down a sandwich, a piece of pie, or whatever the order may call for. The Automat also offered coin-operated spouts for drinks like coffee and chocolate milk, as well as open, cafeteria-style seating.
There is seating for about 35 in the restaurant at Brooklyn Dumpling, but for the most part, local residents, the late-night crowd or young professionals working in the area can order online or at one of the kiosks inside and take their food to go. It’s a great place to scoop up some flavorful grub and take it back to their apartment, loft or to their office.
Here’s how it works
There are a couple kiosks inside Brooklyn Dumpling Shop. Patrons can select what they want via touchscreen (or the website), then as the order is prepared, they get updates. Once complete, the orders are loaded into one of 18 lockers (14 hot and four cold) for pickup. The customer then scans a barcode coinciding with their order, the locker opens, and the food is ready to grab.
What’s on the menu?
The menu is just as unique as the overall concept at Brooklyn Dumpling Shop. The Dallas location was the sixth opened, and the first outside the New York area. However, there are currently multiple other locations planned in places like Atlanta, Calgary, Philadelphia and Orlando. By mid-2024, there will be close to 30 locations nationwide. So, the menu is clearly well received wherever they choose to open.
If you are looking for more traditional flavor profiles, try the chicken teriyaki or the pork and cabbage potstickers. These Asian flavors meld perfectly and deliver maximum flavor all while being wrapped in a soft, pillowy dumpling. There is also a veggie version for those who aren’t looking for meat in their dumplings.
There are also dumplings in broth, which are absolutely perfect for those chillier winter months. The silky broth and the rib-sticking dumplings are a match made in belly-warming heaven. Take any of the above dumplings and just ask for broth. Boom. Easy.
If you are in the mood for a little Asian-American fusion, then Brooklyn Dumping Shop has several unique flavor combinations that are less traditional Asian. The Buffalo Chicken dumpling was a perfect combo of spice, creamy cheese and a crunchy exterior. They are some of the most unique dumplings I have ever sampled. There are also other non-traditional flavor combos like the bacon cheeseburger, a chicken parmesan, and even a New York-inspired pastrami and Swiss. The two other dumplings we were presented were the mac n’ cheese and a Philly cheesesteak. The mac n’ cheese was everything I could’ve hoped for. Creamy and warm with a nice little added crunch on the dumpling wrap. The cheesesteak was probably my favorite selection, with a nice meaty bite with a solid cheesy ooze factor.
Another couple menu items are the Chop-Chop Bowl, which is your choice of protein (crispy chicken, crispy shrimp or grilled chicken) mixed with sweet and sour, teriyaki or peanut sauce and then served on a base of white rice or lo mein noodles. I tried the sweet and sour grilled chicken on lo mein, and it was a sweet and sticky combo of goodness, with a nice char on the chicken and a host of veggies to add a little extra body to the dish. I should, however, mention the peanut sauce, which not only goes great with any of the traditional style potstickers, but is also a wonderful compliment to the Chop Chop Bowl. I think should I make a return visit, the lo mein with crispy chicken and peanut sauce might be my next order. The sauce is that good.
Sides are simple, but with one curveball. Edamame, white rice or lo mein noodles are available to compliment any dumpling, but they also have waffle fries, which I found to be a bit strange for a dumpling joint. But with some of the non-traditional dumplings like the cheesesteak or the bacon cheeseburger, they are a great addition to make it a meal. The fries are crispy and well-seasoned, just as proper waffle fries should be.
There are also a pair of dessert dumplings you should have your eyes on to wrap up your visit to Brooklyn Dumpling. The Apple Pie dumplings are to die for, with a perfect sweet and sticky filling. There is also a PB&J version that takes your childhood favorite sandwich and elevates it to extraordinary. Some cold and creamy vanilla ice cream is available to scoop over both, which makes a hybrid dumpling sundae dessert that is worth stopping in for if you just happen to catch a late-night sugar craving.
Beer and wine is also available (served in the cold lockers), if you want something adult to accompany your meal. There is also one of the Coca-Cola Freestyle fountains, which offers any number of different combos to drink.
Pro-Tip: Ask for your scoop of vanilla ice cream in a cup and then fountain some orange-cream soda over the top for a creamsicle dessert that’s not on the menu. You’ll thank me later.
Overall, the location of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop is accessible, but more convenient to those living in the neighborhood rather than those driving in from other locations. But it’s worthy of the effort to find parking and walk a couple blocks if necessary. The menu is relatively limited, but the unique dumpling flavors are worth the price of admission, and the unique old-school Automat vibe is fun to see in action. I recommend Brooklyn Dumpling as a fun and different date night spot if you have an evening planned in Deep Ellum, or if you’re looking for something fun and different as a takeout option … but don’t forget the dessert dumplings!