Have you ever noticed how many cultures have their own form of a dumpling? Think about it: pierogi, ravioli, wonton. My own Mexican heritage even has their own version called the empanada.
I’m sure that some of you vaguely remember the taste of a dumpling, especially if it has been some years since diagnosis. Kid Allergy was only five when all wheat had to be cut out of his diet. Over five years later, sadly the memory of any dumpling type food has long faded. So, when I found out that there was a 100% gluten free locale called Stuff’d Dumpling Shop in the heart of Los Angeles, I knew we had to partner up (via sponsorship). This was a rare shot at getting to try something that is normally made with wheat, and Kid Allergy was definately intrigued.
You are immediately welcomed by the color yellow as you roll into this cozy Melrose storefront. Bistro tables as bright as the California sun line the sidewalk. As we enter, I can see why this color was chosen to decorate this place. Above I can see a generously sized skylight emitting rays of sunlight to all corners of the dining space. Hanging potted plants dangle from the ceiling. The menu is written along a wall of glass reflecting smiling faces from the customers inside. Three words scribbled on the wall actually warm my heart: gluten free, vegans welcome, pesticide free.
What to Expect
So what does a gluten free dumpling shop serve exactly? As you would expect, dumplings are the stars of the show here. Beyond that, there were only 3 other savory options available: vegan potato salad, or choice of two types of salad. For those with a sweet tooth, Stuff’d has you covered with 3 different types of gluten free deserts.
With so many dumpling varieties around, it is good to understand the focus of this particular dumpling shop. Think small Eastern European dumplings infused with a California twist. Stuff’d creates their dishes with carefully tested research and development, using only locally sourced ingredients. Their aim is to provide comfort food without sacrificing nutrition. The menu changes as new dishes are created. A copy of the latest menu can be found here.
The best part: This is a 100% gluten free kitchen. Our community is not just accommodated here but is the focal point. There is nothing quite like walking through the doors of a place that we know is 100% gluten free. The stress associated with dining and the whining associated with not being able to sample something on the menu completely stops. It is such a treasure to be able to just feel safe.
We decided that since this was such a treat, we would order a few dishes to sample a little bit of each family style. We finally settled on the Hot Chick, Spicy Potato, Wild Vegan Mushroom, and the Siberian Classic.
A Stuff’d employee recommended we go with the Siberian Classic because it was generally a favorite amongst the kid crowd. The tastes on this dish were mild and it is accompanied by a thick sour cream sauce. This was certainly a hit for Kid Allergy. He was very hesitant at first to bite in to this little pocket of what seemingly looked like traditional dough made from wheat. And, although the first bite took a little coaxing, he eventually settled into this particular version and ate a majority of them in the bowl.
The little one loved the Spicy Potato. Admittedly, he is a big sweet potato fan, but he doesn’t normally gravitate toward spicy foods. This particular dish had just the right amount of heat masquerading as a subtile undertone. Nothing too overpowering but just enough kick to satisfy a picky five-year-old eater. This particular dish appealed to me greatly as well. The sage and garlic oil sauce were a perfect compliment to the sweet stuffing on the inside. I get a kick out of great salty and sweet combinations, and this one just hit the mark for me.
My pescatarian hubby was all over the Wild Vegan Mushroom dumplings. He isn’t really a small bites kinda guy, and I believe that this was hearty enough to constitute a meal in his mind. I also think that because it is served over a bed of arugula, my husband felt like it was less tapas and more of a complete meal. He also appreciated that there is a vegan jalapeño sauce on hand to elevate the temperature of your dish a notch. Hubby is notorious for drowning his food in hot sauce. He was thoroughly happy to see that Stuff’d was able to provide something for the ‘add more heat’ crowd.
I saved my favorite for last because this is the dish to go for. If you eat meat, make sure you order the Hot Chick. This dish is based on traditional Thai flavors and is swimming in a coconut curry broth with thick chunks of veggies all around. I loved that it was hearty, bold, and unique.
This is a great opportunity to relive or try something new if you live the gluten free lifestyle and we highly recommend a visit the next time you are visiting Los Angeles. A few comments to make sure your next visit is a good one:
Parking. No parking garage is available so give yourself time to find street parking.
Hours. They have somewhat unconventional hours so be aware they won’t just be open when you are hungry. When we visited, they were open 11:45am to 9:05pm daily.
Portions. If you are the kind of person who likes a big meal note that order sizes on the dumpling dishes are not huge. I liken them to sharable plates and encourage you to order a few things to make sure you don’t go away hungry.
Ambiance. The dining space isn’t super large so if you are dining with a large group of say 12 or more, this might not be the right environment. Also, please note that the feel is a casual bistro. Ordering is done at a counter. We loved dining her for lunch, and felt that this was a solid afternoon dining choice because we were casually dressed and wanted an environment with a laid back attitude.
Please note Kid Allergy Travel did receive a small discount when dining here. Although this was part of a media visit, rest assured, the opinions provided in the post by Kid Allergy Travel remain our own. Photos by Kid Allergy Travel.