by Eric Ginsburg
Inexperience and the presence of small children coincidentally helped us discover the prime way to experience May Way, the new dumpling shop that opened a week ago in Winston-Salem’s Reynolda Village.
The menu at the small restaurant mainly consists of three main categories — dumplings, buns and noodles — and in order to create a full meal, it makes most sense to pick from at least two of the three (if not all). When I joined my friend Pablo’s household for an early evening dinner at May Way Dumplings last week, we took it a step further.
The new joint across from Silo Bistro & Bar lacks much seating: a pair of two-tops inside, two more on the sidewalk and a row of low stools that are best suited to children. We quickly took up residency at the kids’ bar, occupying the six seats and ordering round after round as if it were a tapas bar. The quick orders of dumplings, a variety of sauces, pork and veggie buns and noodle trays were handed over the counter as we tried to find what the tots would like best and re-upped on our own favorites.
“Why are you and my dad friends?” Pablo’s five-year-old son, who I was meeting for the first time, asked. When we had him guess he adeptly suggested that we forged a connection over a shared love of food and because we both sport beards.
Pretty much, I said, adding that our relationship is mostly based on a shared willingness to try just about any dish.
Pablo’s son proved less articulate when asked about which of the snack-sized yet affordable portions he preferred. But on the second round of shao mai — small Chinese pork dumplings often associated with dim sum with a great umami flavor— he tried one, and quickly began downing the rest.
Pablo and I likewise favored the shao mai, also known as shumai at places in town like Mizu, and the adults killed several rounds of the more common fried pork dumplings as well.
We tried the pearl chicken, a sticky rice dish with mushroom and chicken — probably pureed — and wrapped in a lotus leaf kind of like a tamale. And the hot-and-sour soup with tofu, egg drop, seaweed and sesame oil. We sampled the peach bun dessert, which is steamed bread that looks like a white peach with a sweet red bean filling, and we’re pretty sure we tried the chicken dumplings, though they reminded all of us of pork.
We liked the steamed pork buns — like the steamed buns at Da Sa Rang Korean restaurant in Greensboro but with the pork cooked inside — but the hot veggie steamed bun with Chinese cabbage, carrots and string beans surpassed it in taste, at least as far as I was concerned.
Pablo’s wife loved the mala cold noodle dish, which comes with mala sauce (think spicy and somewhat oily), green bean, carrots, cucumber strips and crushed peanut. At $4.50, it’s the most expensive thing on the menu.
The mala cold noodles sound like a dressed-up version of the sesame cold noodles — the only food item that we didn’t order — so we skipped it in favor of the sweet & sour spicy cold noodles with chunks of apple, green onion, cilantro, a mild hot sauce and soy sauce. Both noodles were tasty, though I preferred the latter, but neither would be enough to count as a whole meal.
Which is why, especially with limited seating, that there are three ways to go at May Way Dumplings; order the pork dumplings, shao mai and a noodle dish to go and split between two people, order the fried pork or steamed pork dumplings as a quick snack for one, or follow our lead and treat the counter almost like your own dim sum cart.
By the time we left, our party had placed at least four distinct orders, each with multiple menu items involved. At the long, low table, we passed trays back and forth as we compared notes and sampled sauce pairings, letting our stomachs guide follow-up rounds. At most places such an approach could become stressful, but even with picky kids in tow the fast turnaround on orders and rock-bottom price-point made the whole thing easy.
Try the fast Chinese food of May Way Dumplings at Reynolda Village, located at 2201 Reynolda Road (W-S).