Myungin Dumplings makes a big impact in a humble strip mall setting.
The more people you follow on Twitter, the easier it becomes for information to slip through the cracks. However, time it just right (or create enough lists) and that little blue bird is bound to sing sweetly. That was the case on May 31, when the Red Medicine owners tweeted “”R&D” – Myung In Dumplings. Amazing.” The attached photo didn’t look like much, but the next chance I got, I set out for Koreatown, the surprise location for what turned out to be an unusual dumpling house.
Owner Yu Jin opened the first Myungin in Garden Grove and debuted the Koreatown branch three years ago. He also owns a San Diego branch. The Shenyang, China native was behind the counter during my initial visit and was happy to explain his Chinese-Korean concept.
A friend and I devoured dumplings as the restaurant hurtled toward the day’s closing bell.
King Steam Dumpling with Pork and Kimchi ($7.50 for 4) amounted to fluffy baseball-sized bao.
King Steam Dumplings contained minced pork, bits of pungent, chile-infused cabbage kimchi, scallions, glass noodles, mushrooms and more.
Small Steam Dumpling with Pork and Chive ($8) featured whisper-thin noodle wrappers and light fillings.
Most dishes at Myungin satisfied, but Fried Dumpling with Pork ($8) pan-fried to dry.
My second trip was exactly one month later, on July 3, with Matthew “Mattatouille” Kang and Zach “Midtown Lunch” Brooks, and every dish differed from my first visit.
Boiling isn’t my favorite cooking method for dumplings since the texture typically suffers, but Myungin’s beef dumplings were still fairly satisfying, juicy and easily supercharged with chilied soy.
It was interesting to find siu mai in Koreatown, and while fillings were fairly high quality, with minced pork and sweet shrimp, the bunched, bready bundles at the top did the dumplings no favors.
We ordered our steamed King dumplings kimchi-free, and while they were still flavorful, the bao certainly benefit from kimchi’s acidity and punch.
Unlike most Los Angeles dumpling houses, Myungin offers a small Korean banchan selection, , including a bottomless bowl of slap-you-in-the-face Napa cabbage kimchi. During our visit, Myungin also provided fibrous pickled daikon sheets flavored with soy, thin-shaved cucumber and jalapeño.
Since seemingly every dish in Korea incorporates at least a sprinkling of red chile, Myungin sprinkles their soy dipping sauce with chile flakes.
We finished with a version of Matthew Kang’s favorite Korean soup – yukgaejang [yook heh jang] – a fire red chile-infused beef broth loaded with mushrooms, scallions, free form egg and more. The soup was hearty and the spice level wasn’t as ferocious as it looked, which was fine by me.
Nothing was bad, and several dishes were good, but my experiences at Myungin Dumplings were too unbalanced to achieve “amazing” status. Still, considering that each dumpling is handmade on-site, costs very little, and that the restaurant is located right in the City of Los Angeles, that’s a winning combination.
Also located at 8911 Garden Grove Boulevard, Garden Grove, CA 92844; and 4625 Convoy Street, San Diego, CA 92111