On the weekend, we were running late to go see a Taipei Fringe Festival performance so stopped by for a quick bite at Zhou Pangzi jiaoxi guan (周胖子餃子館), which rather descriptively translates directly as ‘Fat Zhou’s Dumpling Inn’.
Mr Taiwanxifu loves dumplings. Once upon a time before we were married he used to do shift work. I would fill gow gee skins with pork and chives mixture while I was watching TV, and freeze them in batches so that he would have instant dumplings to come home to. It has been a long time since I have made dumplings! But with everything here in Taiwan being so convenient (方便 — fangbian), I am getting a bit lazy!
The dumplings at Fat Zhou’s are not just big, they are supersized. The restaurant guarantees that each dumpling will be at least 30g; almost double the size of normal dumplings. Pictures on Fat Zhou’s Chinese language website demonstrate that their dumplings are almost as large as a chicken’s egg.
I thought Mr Taiwanxifu knew how big the dumplings were when he ordered twenty pork dumplings (NT$8 each, you choose how many you want). So I was surprised when he also ordered a soup, and selected two plates of appetizers: a simple mung bean salad and a plate of stewed hard-boiled eggs, hard pressed tofu and seaweed. And he was even more surprised when his ginormous plate of dumplings arrived. ‘When didn’t you tell me how big the dumplings are,’ he asked when they arrived. Well, I honestly didn’t know he had ordered twenty of them! Still, he somehow managed to polish them all off. They were, after all, very good.
The staff in our office sometimes order Fat Zhou’s dumplings for lunch, so I knew not to over order. Still, I struggled to finish my bowl of dumplings in beef broth (湯餃, NT$120). The best thing about these dumplings is the thick, homemade skin. The second is the fresh meat filling, which obviously uses high-grade mince (they have three versions: pork, beef and vegetarian). And unlike many Taiwanese style dumplings, the meat is not overly fatty. Nor is it so lean that there is no ‘soup’ within the dumpling case. The beef broth, presumably also used for Fat Zhou’s beef noodle soup, was robust yet not overpowering — and it did not leave me rushing for a sugar fix the way some chemically altered soups do.
Fat Zhou’s Dumpling Inn has twenty branches throughout Taipei, including two on Zhongxiao Road Section 5 (we ate at the shopfront directly across the road from the W Hotel, near the Taipei City Hall MRT — 台北市信義區忠孝東路五段37號, phone 02-3765-5500). The average price for most items costs more than comparable family run dumpling and noodle shops (our meal totalled NT$390), but the large serving sizes and quality of ingredients is worth the extra price.