When I just want a mountain of cheap, tasty food and not even for a second consider how much it costs, there's only one choice for me: Dongbei food. It's not classy, it's not delicate, and it's certainly not healthy, but it always hits the spot.
Made my way to the Dongbei Four Seasons Dumpling King on Xikang to satisfy my craving. The reviews on Dazhong Dianping aren't great, but I don't care, because I know what I want, and I'll know they'll do a good job with it.
The giant caveman bone of pork （大骨肉）was tender, juicy and flavorful from sitting in a vat of braising juice all day. Pull on your plastic gloves, grab the bone with both hands, and tear into it like an animal. Just make sure you have floss at home for later.
The dry stir-fried green beans （干煸四季豆）were flavorful, salty, a little spicy and slightly crispy on the outside. It's tough to mess these up.
The sliced/smashed cucumber with vinegar and salt (拍黄花) was tangy, crunchy, and refreshing. The only way this dish can go wrong is if the cucumber isn't fresh, and this one was just fine.
The home-style tofu （家常豆腐）was the only stumble of the meal from my perspective. This dish is usually a little sweet, but I felt like this iteration was way too sweet for my liking...the cloying sweet sauce was overwhelming and I wasn't able to finish.
The cumin lamb (孜然羊肉) was honestly unlikely any cumin lamb I've ever had before. Instead of being made with chunks of lamb meat stir-fried with cumin and spices until crispy, it appeared to have been made with the slices of lamb that are usually prepared for hot pot: very thin, fatty strips that curl up as the fat constricts while cooking. While I hadn't had it like this before, it was also delicious stir fried with the green onion shoots, and I'd order it again.
Overall, it was exactly what I want from a Dongbei meal. The dinner for two came out to less than 150 RMB, we stuffed ourselves silly, and just about everything was tasty. I didn't get a shot of the interior, but it looks basically like every other Dongbei restaurant in town: wooden tables, wooden stools, wooden decorations on the walls, rustic and simple. High-brow diners will have to look elsewhere, but Dongbei Four Seasions Dumpling King will remain my standby whenever that craving for a mountain of cheap food hits.
Oh, but don't get the dumplings. Ironically, I find them pretty blah here. Get anything at the Four Seasons Dumpling King except the dumplings.
SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.