A less-common take on Chinese food is now being cooked up in Watsonville.
Zen Dumpling, a Northern Chinese style restaurant, opened on Main Street a few months ago. Most Chinese food restaurants in California are Cantonese and there are big differences in the regional styles.
Chowhound blogger Melissa Wong shared this insight about the restaurant:
My cousin in town has been telling me about this new spot, Zen Dumpling, opened three months ago by a couple from Harbin, China. She’s been patronizing them weekly. Sensing that the cooking may be too authentic for the neighborhood, she’s trying to keep them in business.
I’ve not been in yet myself, but did snag a taste of some leftovers from when my mom visited. The chicken and chive dumplings (shui jiao) are handmade with thick, chewy wrappers and as authentic as can be. The noodles (la mian) are hand-pulled for a nice chew.
The restaurant is getting decent reviews on Yelp, with customers praising the the soup and dumplings.
"I have an apartment in Xiao Lou China, and this place is the closest place I've found to real Chinese food in Northern California," Yelp reviewer bill r wrote.
One warning: don't expect to have chili oil. It's a Szechuan and Southern China thing.
Zen Dumpling is located in the former New Asia Chinese Cuisine location at 1116 Main St. It's open for lunch and dinner every day but Wednesday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Have you tried Zen Dumpling? What did you think? Share your reviews in the comment section below.