Comfort me with dumplings and I'll forever remember you with fondness. Because nothing feels so soothing as the gentle slide of tooth through plump and pliant dumpling.
Any connoisseur of the package-bearing doughy form will tell you that a truly successful one should be an end in and of itself. In other words, a worthy silken edible purse is one that can exist successfully even without its hidden treasure. But if the stash can live up to its lovely wrapper, so much the better, and anyone who's gnawed on a stiff and boring pierogi or a clumsy ravioli knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Ying's Teahouse and Yum Yum not only makes wonderful dumplings, but they let them go for a song. Far surpassing their better-than-average regular takeout fare, the dumplings from this little neat and clean Clintonville shop come in several varieties, and all of them are cheap.
For a full and deeply satisfying meal, I love the Dumplings in Hot and Sour Soup ($7.25). Floating in a dark-colored, light-bodied, vibrant and vinegary broth touched by soy sauce and powered by chili oil are remarkably supple dumplings - about a dozen of them - soaking up the lively liquid and picking up notes from snipped cilantro leaves.
Lovingly scoop one up, but chew carefully because it holds a hot and splashy soupy surprise along with a burst of juicy ground pork accented with ginger.
For a smaller, even more intense dish, try the Spicy Dumpling "Yum Yum" appetizer ($4). This time those same pillowy pockets get doused with a sort of turbo-charged, more concentrated version of that hot-and-sour soup broth. Thicker, darker and spicier, this tarter sauce also receives a nice contrasting sprinkle of ground peanuts.
For a non-meaty and lower-in-the-carbo-department snack, try the dumpling-like vegetarian Tofu Skin Roll ($3, but you must specify vegetarian). Exploding with mushroomy flavors, a viscous, salty and dark gravy covers what looks like egg rolls but are actually veggies (like shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, mushrooms and carrots) folded up in sheets of tofu.
Me, I usually order all three of these and save some for later.