My husband loves dumplings. He is very particular, and knows what he likes: big, fat dumplings with lots of juice encased in thick, homemade dumpling skins.
Years ago back in Australia when Mr Taiwanxifu was a Police Constable working shifts on the beat in the middle of winter, I used to make dumplings for him. They were a quick and easy snack he could boil in the middle of the night when he returned home after his shift (and we never knew when that would be — he used to do lots of overtime). He didn’t mind the dumplings I made, but they weren’t exactly right. The problem was the pork mince I was using was too lean (probably better for his cholesterol levels, though, than what is sold in Chinese butchers) and also the pre-made dumpling skins were too smooth and not thick enough.
But Tongke Dumpling Inn (同客餃子館) makes exactly what he likes. You can find bigger dumplings in Taipei elsewhere (for example the egg-sized orbs at Fat Zhou’s), and there are probably more exotic varieties at high-end restaurants. But these dumplings are just right, which explains why our freezer is always full with bags of take-home frozen Tongke Dumplings.
Tongke makes four types of dumplings: pork and cabbage (NT$5 each), pork and Chinese chives (NT$5 each), pork and pickled vegetables (NT$8 each) and pork with Chinese chives and prawns (NT$10 each). You can also have dumplings in hot and sour soup, or in a stewed meat broth (NT$75 for 10 dumplings). You must order a minimum of ten dumplings if you dine in, and they caution you to wait a little while because the dumplings are cooked to order. You will not need to wait too long, though!
They also make a range of simple fried noodles, fried rice and other stir-fries and side dishes. On a recent visit to their shop in the bustling Wushingjie area, we ordered soups (hot and sour, and a simple vegetable, egg and tofu) and a plate of red-braised items (tofu, egg and seaweed). But it is the dumplings that we — and most people — come for.
Tongke is situated at No 406 Zhuangjing Rd, Xinyi (110台北市信義區莊敬路406號, not far from Taipei 101, phone 2722 5312). The restaurant is often full, but the owner also runs a hot-pot store next door and sometimes seats dumpling diners there. So don’t be dissuaded from ordering if there are no seats. Or else take home a pack or two of frozen dumplings and enjoy at home at your leisure.