Hunan Dumplings at the Oriental House Restaurant in Ottawa
I believe that the Oriental House Restaurant may be the very first Chinese restaurant I ever visited in Ottawa, which would put that visit at some twenty years ago. Since the establishment is in an area I stay in less frequently than others when visiting the capital, I have only eaten there three, or possibly four times over that whole period. Generally, the food has been pretty good though, and the Dumpling dish you see pictured above, while not quite as expected, was both interesting and tasty.
The Dumplings were simply advertised on the online menu as ‘Hunan Dumplings’ with no other details provided other than a little graphic of a single chili pepper, indicating the dish was mildly hot. Now, being a Hunan style dish, I was expecting the Dumplings to be Jiaozi style, in a pool of Red Chili Oil. I was partly right on the first count, and way off base on the second.
The Boiled Dumplings at the Oriental House turned out to be served in a Peanut Sauce. I was a little dismayed by this at first as I have had many, many versions of the stuff over the years, and, in the main, I do not really like it. Still, I soldiered on, and ended up being actually liking it.
The dumplings themselves were a bit underwhelming in the visual sense, being haphazardly folded into rounded shapes with the vague suggestion of some irregular pleating here and there. They were well boiled, though, and the texture of the wrapper was pleasantly al dente. As for the filling, this was pork and it was not especially remarkable, but was nicely textured, lightly seasoned, and generally tasty.
Returning once more to the Sauce, it clearly was a Peanut Sauce, but it also clearly did have some chili oil added. Not as much as I would have preferred, mind you, but enough to give the dish a faint hint of fire. The one thing that was a little different about this sauce was something I really couldn’t identify. For all the world, it rather seemed as though a little butter had been stirred in. This would hardly be a traditional ingredient, certainly, but, whatever it was, the effect was very nice. As I say, I generally dislike peanut sauces, but the overall effect made the Hunan Dumplings at the Oriental House novel, interesting, and enjoyable.