Journey To The Dumpling is one of my new favorite restaurants in Elk Grove and I for one am thrilled to have a great dumpling and noodle restaurant in the neighborhood. First of all, you should know I’m a harsh critic of Chinese food because my family is from Hong Kong. I grew up eating dumplings, noodles, and Cantonese food in Hong Kong. Journey To The Dumpling, quite simply, has the best dumplings in town. You can argue the same about their noodles.
Journey To The Dumpling is known for it’s Xiao Long Bao, the soup dumplings, which ingeniously have a mouthful of flavorful soup inside. However, as I have come to discover, you can’t really have a meal at Journey To The Dumpling without also indulging in flavorful noodle options such as Garlic Noodles, Beef Chow Fun, or Beef Noodle Soup.
Journey To The Dumpling opened on October 14, 2016. Located in the same shopping center as DSW, Pinkberry, and Noodles & Co and across the parking lot from Target and Buy Buy Baby, they get a lot of foot traffic. The restaurant is in a really central location, which also means it’s usually packed full of hungry customers.
Journey To The Dumpling is owned by Chris Tan, Yvonne Nguyen, and Justin Yang. Chris Tan is the restaurant manager. Yvonne runs the front of the house. Justin is Executive Chef. The three of them worked together at another restaurant Tan co-owned, Chason’s Crab Stadium. From chatting with the owners, you can really tell they have a passion for what they do. The restaurant just wouldn’t be the same without Yvonne greeting the customers and both her and Chris doing their part to make sure your experience is spot on. Justin, originally from Guangzhou, learned to craft xiao long bao from his mentor, a Master Chef from Shanghai.
Because the menu of Journey To The Dumpling is quite extensive, it is quite difficult to figure out what to eat. I always want to order more than I can eat. To assist anyone who hasn’t had the privilege of partaking in Journey To The Dumpling cuisine before, I’ve compiled a list of my personal favorite menu items, along with a few tips for eating.
Xiao Long Bao
Xiao Long Bao is one of Journey To The Dumpling’s signature menu items. With mouthful of delicious soup inside, it’s always a challenge to figure out how to eat it without spilling the soup. Many people put the whole dumpling in their mouth. Others eat it in an Asian spoon to catch the drips. Most of all, the Xiao Long Bao is definitely one of my top favorite items on the Journey To The Dumpling menu.
Sheng Jian Bao
Sheng Jian Bao is also a signature menu item. It’s basically a fried soup dumpling. I’m still trying to figure out how you actually get soup inside the dumpling and fry it, without all the soup spilling out. It’s perfect because there is a crispy outside but when you bite in, you get a mouthful of love in soup. Hence, the Sheng Jian Bao is also one of top favorite items on the Journey To The Dumpling menu.
Wonton In Chili Oil
I had never had Wonton In Chili Oil before my first visit to Journey To The Dumpling. But this is actually a great dish. You get the flavor and texture of classic wonton enhanced with bit of spicy chili oil. In fact their chili oil is made in house and is available for sale.
These potstickers are phenomenal. They serve it with a crispy fun lattice on it that you can eat. It’s fun to eat and delicious with the crispy lattice on it. You can get them with pork and cabbage or with shrimp, eggs, and zucchini.
I love the noodles at Journey To The Dumpling. Recently they started making their own egg noodles and let me tell you, I can tell the difference! Their house made noodles are made with love and you can tell it as you eat their noodle dishes.
The Garlic Noodles are buttery, garlicky, and tasty with just the right chewy texture. You can have them plain or served with Chicken, Beef, or Shrimp. I love their Garlic Noodles with Shrimp.
Journey To The Dumpling’s Beef Chow Fun is top notch. You can get it with beef, chicken, or shrimp. I highly recommend getting it with their black bean sauce. It has a really nice flavor and is very satisfying.
Beef Soup Noodles
You can’t go wrong with their Beef Soup Noodles. Braised beef and bok choy are served in a hearty beef broth with house made egg noodles. It’s comforting, yummy, and essentially everything you want in a noodle soup.
Other Noteworthy Items
The Beef Roll is one of my husband’s favorite dishes at Journey To The Dumpling. He’s a carnivore and gravitates towards anything with meat. He loves this Beef Roll and so do I. They make it with slow simmer beef, red onions, scallions, and cucumber. It’s a little bit crispy, meaty, and you can taste the fresh scallions and cucumber.
Green Onion Pancake
The Green Onion Pancake is thin and crispy. It’s also completely vegetarian and delicious. Often sold as a snack in China, Hong Kong, and other Asian countries like Taiwan, they are very popular. It’s simple but tasty. The sauce that comes with the Green Onion Pancake is delicious.
I call these “Poto Tarts.” They have a special place in my heart. Because my maternal grandfather was born in and raised in Macau, a former Portuguese colony, I am particular about my egg tarts. Especially relevant, Portuguese egg tarts are different from the traditional Chinese “Dan Tat” in that they are slightly burnt on top, not unlike creme brulee. Journey To The Dumpling really has the best Egg Tarts in town and I love that they have the Portuguese version. Trust me, they are phenomenal!
If you’re wondering why I’m bothering to mention tea when all Asian restaurants serve it, it’s because at Journey To The Dumpling they serve the teapot over a candle to keep it hot. It’s awesome and adds a nice touch. They have green tea, black tea, jasmine, chrysanthemum tea and roasted rice tea. I recommend their chrysanthemum tea.
Especially relevant, I should note that these are NOT all the menu items. There are plenty more to choose from. They also have some vegetarian options available such as the Vegetarian Dumplings made with tofu, egg, and black mushroom, and cilantro. In addition, if you fancy your noodle dishes without meat, just ask. They also have plenty of rice dishes.
The Atmosphere & Customer Service
First of all, the atmosphere inside Journey To The Dumpling is modern and upscale. They have tasteful decorations, including a giant ship made of exquisite jade, and flat screen televisions on the wall. Furthermore, everything is very clean, even the bathroom, which is rare for a Chinese restaurant.
Due to the fact that the staff is well trained, the customer service is spot on. Hence, the waiters and waitresses are attentive and will be happy to give you suggestions if you’re having trouble figuring out what to order. During one visit, my baby girl knocked over a glass of water and it went crashing to the floor. Most noteworthy, without me having to ask, 2 waiters arrived with towels and replacement napkins. They even brought me a new glass of water without my asking. That’s what I call good service. If I walk in with my family and a stroller, they make sure to seat me somewhere where we can stash our stroller.
Consequently, I’ve visited many times and I never have any issues with customer service. Yvonne and Chris, really handle the front of the restaurant and the management well. Furthermore, the awesome customer service combined with the high quality fare really makes the whole experience enjoyable.
To be clear, I think that Journey To The Dumpling is BETTER than any other place serving dumplings in the Sacramento area. More importantly, it surpasses many places in the Bay Area in terms of food quality and because of their impeccable customer service. Din Tai Fung in the Bay Area loses points for me because of the long wait and hit or miss customer service. Therefore, Journey To The Dumpling is on par with the Din Tai Fung in Toronto, Hong Kong, and within Asia. In conclusion, I have no reservations whatsoever about recommending Journey To The Dumpling. They have awesome dumplings, good noodles, and excellent customer service in a modern, upscale atmosphere. I recommend showing up early because they are not taking reservations. JAX APPROVED!