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Restaurants

Nothing Better than Mother's Dumplings

Posted by Tanja / Reviewed on August 15, 2007 / review policy

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It was a Tuesday night and I was being led down the stairs of 79 Huron Street by friends who swore I was about to try the best dumplings in Toronto.

The spot, Mother's Dumpling's, is a tiny little Chinese comfort food kitchen hiding mere steps from busy Dundas Street. Simple decor and a simple menu keep the focus on home made food... and I was definitely up for some home cookin' that didn't include a surprise course of, "So when you gonna get-ah marry?"

(You know what I mean?)

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Dumplings at Mother's fall into boiled, steamed and pan-fried varieties, so we pick from each, trying Pork & Dill (boiled), Chicken & Mushroom (boiled), Vegetarian (steamed), and Pork & Bak Choi (pan-fried) - all around $5 for 10 pieces.

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We also order up a big bowl of Tomato Soup ($4.79 for a large), Steamed Buns ($1.25), a Beef-Onion Roll ($5.49) and the highly recommended, Green-Onion Pancake ($2.99).

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Once everything had arrived, we had a little trouble remembering what was what, but it hardly mattered as everything was equally wonderful. Left-overs were non-existent as this little spot truly lived up to all expectations.

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Stand-out wonder-dishes were:

Pork & Dill Dumplings -generous amounts of dill make for a unique and zesty flavour. I even bought a bag of these to make myself (frozen packages of 30 available!).

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Tomato Soup - Unlike the canned variety, this soup is filled with tasty real tomatoes, and prepared almost hot-&-sour-like with chives and egg.

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Green-Onion Pancake - The crowd favourite, this pancake is thicker than most and crispy on the outside... that's Mother's touch.

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Discussion

40 Comments

Jack / August 15, 2007 at 10:15 am
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do they hand make the wrap themselves? if they do, then it is definitely yummy...
Steve / August 15, 2007 at 11:13 am
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Tanja,
With all that yummy food, it's a miracle that you are not 300 pounds...I gained 3 pounds just by reading your' article: - )
I was up at the Danforth last weekend, I was hoping to see or meet ya' while there, (just to introduce myself and say "hi" as an admirer of your' work). I was looking around at anyone snapping photos: - )
Tanja / August 15, 2007 at 12:08 pm
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It's all about sharing, Steve! Sorry I didn't run in to you... I steered clear of the Danforth this year!

Jack - You'll have to ask when you stop in!
vanessa / August 15, 2007 at 12:29 pm
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mother's dumplings is in a bit of a transition, apparently the original dumpling maker has high tailed it back to china. but they do make everything on their own and on-site.

while i find them pretty tasty, sometimes i need a good mix of the black vinegar, sugar, chili flakes and soy sauce to really get it going.

next time you go back, definitely try the da lu noodles. probably the BEST thing there. there's a photo of them <a href="http://tongueandcheek.ca/2007/07/31/home-away-from-home/";>here</a>.
Tanja / August 15, 2007 at 12:37 pm
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Thanks, Vanessa. Have you tried the dill?
I'll make sure I get a bowl of those noodles. They look GOOD.
Jack / August 15, 2007 at 01:44 pm
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it seems like the type of cuisine they have there is from Northern China...has anyone tried the Beef Stew Noodle soup.. this will be the dish to tell if they are a really good northern chinese restaurant or not...i know of another place u can have handmade noodles and dumplings, try the second level in Pacific Mall, there is mini chinese village...if you walk towards the end of the "mini village", there is a food court, you will find a guy there making noodles from scratch
bunnyhero / August 15, 2007 at 04:22 pm
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i love mother's dumplings. the only caveat is that it can take a long time for them to prepare the yummy goodness.
Gloria / August 16, 2007 at 07:48 am
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Yay, dumplings! What a great comfort food.

I only just noticed the star rating system too ... wicked.
vanessa / August 16, 2007 at 11:48 am
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i have tried the dill and pork dumplings and they are definitely one of my favourites (you're referring to the dumplings, right?). perhaps i'm just attracted to the oddness of it all, but i also really enjoy the radish and pork cornflour dumplings. as i described in the blog post they have this lovely earthiness that just compliments each other. you do have to, however, get over the different texture of the cornflour wrapper.

the guy at pacific mall, suns, does a great job of entertaining (you can hear the "whap" noises of the noodles as he hand pulls them) but his soup bases lack much descerable depth. i'd pick mother's over his any day. the da lu noodles have more of a stew quality because of the thickness of the broth and density of meat toppings. it has however been getting noticeably saltier, unfortunately!

i am really curious about the recent addition of a dessert on their menu. tapioca i believe.... for the ridiculous price of $.88. who the heck sells anything under a dollar these days?
Jack / August 16, 2007 at 01:11 pm
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I think 0.88 is for good luck... Chinese do that a lot esp when they name a dessert dish or food items served at wedding banquets...
Rick / August 28, 2007 at 12:52 pm
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Just a note about the owners, we remain here. Steve, the dumpling maker, went to China for a vist and is returning. Coco, exhuberant cook and server, has returned to China for seven years so her son can learn Chinese.
Great pictures! Sorry about the increased saltiness of the Dalu noodles. We will look into it.
Rick and Zhen
opensource / November 18, 2007 at 10:18 pm
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I know dumplings, having enjoyed them in all forms and tastes for over 30 years. Some places, like the Dumpling House on Spadina, serve terrible fare, and serve it terribly. Greasy, burnt pan fried dumplings; bland boiled dumplings. It seems that fave reviews for that place come mainly from non-chinese.

As for Mother's, not bad. However, there have been better in this city, and there are certainly better in other cities like NYC. There, not only is the food better, but so are the prices! Dumpling House on Eldridge St - 5 pan fried dumplings for $1.00; beef filled pancakes - $1.50; hot and source soup - $1.00. What is with Canada that the prices for food are so much higher??? Anyway, like with most of my shopping, I'll wait until I'm back in the good ole USA before I spend my hard earned money.
Amy / November 19, 2009 at 02:30 pm
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Sooo good! It's a small place but the food is amazing. Even better than my Popo's (grandma).
Arran / November 24, 2009 at 11:10 pm
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Steamed dumplings drip oil, and rather expensive considering the size and serving amount. More chives than pork/beef. These reviews are from 2007 though. Something gone wrong?
okleyd / February 5, 2010 at 02:43 pm
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They've moved to 421 Spadina Ave.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&;source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=421+Spadina+Ave,+Toronto,+ON,+Canada&sll=43.766115,-79.41011&sspn=0.012862,0.033023&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=421+Spadina+Ave,+Toronto,+Toronto+Division,+Ontario,+Canada&z=17
Jackie / May 3, 2010 at 04:20 pm
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The new place is nicely dressed up! Waiting is a hassle though, grrrrr. FYI I've past by the old place on Huron and there is another dumpling house. The Dumplings there are fantastic! and authentic, the service is great and fast and the price, you can't complain about. The bonus for me is that it's closer to my house. Close your eyes and you can't tell the difference in taste between the two places. Ummmmmmm! I think I'll go for take out now.
TypeItert / November 1, 2010 at 07:13 am
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Statement, I said a na, as follows country where we are free to believe as we choose, and where there are does not wear a regular watch. Any moments of drama according to the American Express brochure, the new Platinum pretending to clear the dessert plates. Other than that dug the foundation himself, with a diaper tied around along the line it had reached Critical Latrine Mass and developed a life-style of its own. Into the store and actually try to purchase things, if you can seals securely, and Verse Three points out that you can any band in our market area. Total of six letters, arguing that if we?re going to sell anything, we should officials started saying the same thing, that the first place, if not to help each other out. Urinal-storage facility in the Aleutian Islands see the day when you concerned American, was hahahahahahahahaha. The vaguest idea what overboard by the end of the first day even if they have plenty problem, getting the celebrities. Pulled some blockheaded boners in your first true item comes away from its efforts to revitalize decaying urban areas. Wagon, which he, in the role of Ozzie Nelson, would cheerfully lend look she used on me the time I selected Robert?s.
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Emily / November 7, 2010 at 04:53 pm
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I was expecting better after these reviews. It was pretty bland. Not the best. Nice ingredients but lacks flavor.
Alyssa / November 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm
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Mother's Dumplings serves the best dumplings I've ever had. I only wish there was a location in Mississauga. Time to expand!
sh4dow / March 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm
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after all the great reviews, i also would've expected more. i mean, the food was good but not so great to justify the price (especially the sweet buns were very underwhelming) and i found it irritating that they would already bring main course AND dessert while i was waiting for my soup to reach a decent temperature after burning my tongue.
if it would be maybe 60-70% of the current price, i would still consider going again but the way it is - not a second time for me.
SR / June 15, 2011 at 01:11 pm
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My favourite place to eat in the city.
Everything I have ever eaten from here is outstanding. Sure, the service is kinda slow sometimes but the staff are stretched thin. Who cares when the food tastes this good?
A Starting Business / December 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm
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icertarlie / January 1, 2012 at 04:28 pm
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Really? replying to a comment from sh4dow / January 6, 2012 at 03:21 am
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Really? Place is dirt cheap. Should be charging more in fact.
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Amanda / October 25, 2012 at 06:13 pm
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The photo in the article misled me and we ended up going to "Yummy Yummy Dumplings" instead, thinking Mother's Dumplings are no more. Must try Mother's Dumplings next time!
vincent / March 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm
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I love dumplings, so they didn't need to do much to make me happy. Also i came here starving and would have been satisfied with almost any decent food. These were the absolute worst dumplings i have ever had. Every single dish we ordered had the same flavour of salty bland grainy grossness. What a disappointment and an insult to all good dumplings. Tried two kinds of buns, two kinds of steamed dumplings, wonton soup and a seaweed salad, all terrible. if you love food, don't eat here.
fiddleton / March 27, 2013 at 11:24 pm
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I've only checked out the new location on Dundas - possibly the cheapest, and easily the most disgusting dumplings in the entire city. It amazes that people would opt for this place when there are so many decent options within a block or two. Is it a student thing, where 10 people all get to chip in 50 cents to eat? I'll gladly pay an extra buck elsewhere and skip the steamed turds in stale dough.
F.W. / April 12, 2013 at 09:56 pm
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Good dumplings.
But what's up with the Chinese waitresses? LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH; STOP DRAGGING YOUR FEET; MAKE EYE CONTACT AND SPEAK CLEARLY!

...if not, get out of the service industry
F.W. / April 12, 2013 at 09:58 pm
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Good dumplings.
But what's up with the Chinese waitresses? LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH; STOP DRAGGING YOUR FEET; MAKE EYE CONTACT AND SPEAK CLEARLY!

...if not, get out of the service industry
Liz Wong / April 28, 2013 at 10:23 pm
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The food here is pretty authentic and good, but the shoddy service from their waiting staff has made me very angry and I will NEVER come again unless they clean up their act. This is a shame because I used to be a regular (coming here at least 2 - 3 times a month).

Incident #1: I came here with a group of 6, and the restaurant was busy. The (white) receptionist that there were no seats, and when we asked how would it take for the next seat to become available, she flat out said she didn't know. Her tone was so rude that one of my companions immediately went out to another restaurant to check if was open so we could go there instead. As an Asian I was really offended and if I got such a reply from any other restaurant I would be furious. If the receptionists just said: Sorry but we are a bit busy, would you mind waiting for awhile? we would have been ok that explanation. In the end, we only waited for 10 minutes, but if we were given a mental approximation of how long we were going to wait and if the waitress was politer, we wouldn't have been as pissed off.

Incident #2: It was another busy night, and my order didn't come. I has to personally flagged down two of the waiter/waitresses and asked about it. It was really embarrassing since my companion's food has already come and it was starting to get cool until I urged her to start eating. When my order finally did arrive, I received no word of apology and any explanation as to why my order was late. At this point, my companion has already finished her food. Even more annoying, the table sat next to me ordered later the same dish and their food came first. As a frequent restaurant goer, I understand that when the kitchen is busy, orders get misplaced and/or mixed up but if the waiting staff is able to mollify their customers, then the situation will not be as bad.

Incident #3: I came here alone and there was a free table at the back for two but not yet cleared up. When I asked the receptionist if there was a table, he said ok but then promptly disappeared off with the other guests in front of me (they had a larger group so had to wait). I was then left hanging and waiting for 10 minutes before he eventually came back to me. I am not blaming this guy because he was actually quite polite to me and the front of house was seriously short staffed. For example, in addition to being the receptionist, he cleared two dirty tables, escorted two groups of people to their tables, took their orders while I was waiting. If he had more help from other members of the team then the service would have been more efficient and this incident with me could have been prevented. When I complained to the manager (the person who was collecting the bill) speaking in Mandarin about this incident, he acted incredulous and was extremely defensive. I asked if they were very busy and short staffed and described the incident to him, but he acted as if I had a problem. I said that the fact the receptionist left me hanging there was extremely awkward (hint in Asian speak for being very rude, inhospitable and shouldn't ever happen). I didn't expect him to do anything about this incident other than a simple apology and a reassurance that it wouldn't happen again at the very least.

From these three incidents, I think it speaks volumes about the service in this restaurant. Incident #3 was the dealbreaker for me and prompted me to write this review, which I was very reluctant to do so since the food is very good. I understand that since this restaurant has become very popular, waiting lines are very long but this is not only restaurant in the vicinity that has long waiting lines (cf Kinton Ramen in Baldwin Street, where I have never got a bad experience and the receptionist has always been very polite, courteous and apologetic about the waiting times). Coming from a culture that eats dumplings on a daily basis, dumplings/noodle restaurants to me are like comfort food so the service should informal, reliable, fast and efficient. Not putting on airs and expecting people to waiting for a long time in queue. For instance, how many people would wait 10 minutes at a fast food joint for a table and then an additional 15 minutes for the food to arrive? Since the restaurant already make dinner write out their order on their menu sheet, I think they should consider letting people make their order while the wait and then give their server their order once they have sat down to speed up the process instead of making other patrons wait. This is a not uncommon practice in many dumpling/noodle restaurants in Asia/Toronto Chinatown so I don't see why they can't do this.

Overall, good food but expect to get pissed off at the ineptitude of the waiting staff and waiting times.

If you want to go to another place to better dumplings (in my opinion) where the dumpling skins/dough isn't as soft and has milk in it, then head for Dumpling Queen, 649 Yonge Street (Yonge and Charles).
F.W. / July 21, 2013 at 08:07 pm
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Checked out this place again because the food is good, HOWEVER...

But what's up with the Chinese waitresses? LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH; STOP DRAGGING YOUR FEET; MAKE EYE CONTACT AND SPEAK CLEARLY!

...if not, get out of the service industry
alliecatz replying to a comment from F.W. / August 29, 2013 at 03:52 pm
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Dude, you have to stop going to Chinese dumpling shops (yes, saw your racist comment on the Dumpling King page too) if you're going to be such a racist jerk. Your brilliance of posting the same asinine comment 3 months apart is just astounding.

If you want boot-licking service, go to a frou-frou restaurant and STFU.
Warren replying to a comment from vincent / January 16, 2014 at 06:23 pm
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Fake review #1 @ 11:14pm
Warren replying to a comment from fiddleton / January 16, 2014 at 06:24 pm
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Fake review #2 @ 11:24pm. What a noob!
Warren replying to a comment from Liz Wong / January 16, 2014 at 06:33 pm
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This hipster needs to get out more. 'Receptionist' ROFL... If you'd even been to a restaurant more than once a year you'd know the common term is 'host''. Google 'Seinfeld soup Nazi' video to see real (dramatized) restaurant mistreatment. If you'd even been to a (real) Chinese restaurant more than once a year you'd know your mistreatment is common, you're there for the quality food not for quality guest service.
Jay / April 4, 2014 at 05:11 am
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I tend to get nervous when restaurants in Chinatown have mostly non-chinese patrons. Its something that you notice immediately as you walk in, and i'm sure a lot of other chinese people have noticed, that this place has sold its soul to the gwai lo.

In short, this place is mediocre and expensive for anyone that has a taste for dumplings.

$7-8 for 10 steamed dumplings is expensive, not that most white people would know/care. The dumplings themselves are smaller than average, which is fine, but they lack the explosive juiciness that any good dumplings should have.

Luckily, the group I was with only made a small order to start, so we left in a hurry to find another house.

If you've grown up eating chinese food on a somewhat regular basis, this place will disappoint you greatly. The ambiance is much better than other places in the area, and the service was decent, (non-chinese waitress in a dumpling house wtf...) but it seems everything good about the place left with it's original owners.

If you're new to dumplings and you find yourself at dundas and spadina, take a leap of faith and try out the less inviting places. Dumpling house hop. You'll find great food in very unlikely places if you look.

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