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The Pete Wells Dumpling Double Header: Tim Ho Wan and Pinch Chinese

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The Times critic awards one star apiece

Tim Ho Wan
Tim Ho Wan
Nick Solares

In a rare Pete Wells twofer, the New York Times critic files reviews of Tim Ho Wan and months-old Pinch Chinese, two downtown Manhattan restaurants specializing in dumplings. First up is New York’s branch of the Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan, where Wells is skeptical of its out-the-door lines: “Now that the lines have died down considerably, it’s clear that the versions at Tim Ho Wan are good, but very few are throw-half-the-day-away good, and some have a rote quality that tends to creep into all but the most vigilant chains.”

Wells notes that the chain’s famous rice rolls fall short at the New York location, likening them to “white bogs of starch.” Unfortunately for Tim Ho Wan, the comparisons keep coming: “Of one In Australia, the osmanthus jelly, which is a dessert, was a shimmering, translucent amber, saturated with the spring-fever flavors of peaches and flowers. The New York version has been rubbery, as dark as beef bouillon, and strangely bland.”

Over at Pinch Chinese in Soho, Wells is a big fan of the soup dumplings. He writes:

The first thing you notice about their soup dumplings is that they are pretty. In other restaurants, they are baggy, saggy water balloons ready to spill their guts on impact. At Pinch, they stand upright like Hershey’s Kisses, and their skins, though very thin, don’t rupture when squeezed between chopsticks. A single dumpling fits quite comfortably in the mouth.

Once you bite down, the broth that pours out is not as lip-smackingly gelatinous as it could be, but it’s still rich and full of flavor. The best and most unusual is filled with chicken soup, and you wouldn’t want it any thicker than it is. It’s very good.

While the two reviews read differently, Wells deems both restaurant’s worthy of one star.