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Food fight: Chinese dumplings

| Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006

Three restaurants. Two diners. One item. Everyone leaves with a little egg on their face.

Jo Jo Bodnar: Usually bypass Chinese appetizers to better enjoy the main entree. But I gave them another try.

James Knox: I can create entire meals out of Chinese appetizers. And that's a good thing.

China Palace 5440 Walnut St., Shadyside 412-687-RICE $4.50 for friend pork dumplings

Jo Jo: We tried dumplings in honor of the Chinese New Year on Sunday, but these were just bland and bad. Not even the sauce could help these overfried dumplings. All dough, and tough at that. If it was actually pork, the filling had no flavor.

James: Big fat dumplin's carny-style. Deep fried like a funnel cake. Huge and too doughy. The meat left no taste, yet it seemed to linger for hours afterward. Can I say gut bomb• Put it on a stick and you've got the silent killer of the Big Butler Fair.

Sesame Inn Station Square 412-281-8282 $5.50 for fried dumplings

Jo Jo: Tangy sauce overpowered the dumplings' taste. Points for the bed-of-lettuce presentation -- but what do you do with the lettuce?

James: Good size for one bite. Meat was flavorful but not too exciting. Sauce was a little sweet, which is good. Meticulously pleated and quickly pan-fried.

PF Chang's China Bistro The Waterfront, West Homestead 412-464-0640 $4.95 for Peking dumplings, pan fried

Jo Jo: Plenty of pork and spices with just enough dough. My favorites. A variety of sauces accompanied these dumplings, but they could stand alone. Didn't leave me feeling too stuffed.

James: Sauce hit it on the head -- spicy sweet, tickled with peppery green onion. Dumpling was delicate and not gooey. It was not a mystery that the meat was pork. The only downer was you get four dumplings instead of the standard six.

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