Those who shopped at Ping's Market when it was twice as large are unlikely to be sad that the space has been halved. That's because most shoppers were raiding the freezers lining the back wall for the array of over twenty different kinds of hand-made dumplings, which they then had to bring home and cook themselves. The morphing of half the store into a dumpling café eliminates that final step, serving a handful of those dumplings, along with other family recipes from Ping's home province of Qingdao.
Unlike the oversized, crisp-skinned potstickers found in every two-bit Chinese restaurant, Ping's dumplings are soft and subtle, barely holding together for the length of time necessary to get them from plate to lips, ideally with a stop in the bowl of sharp garlic sauce in the middle of that route. The dumplings fall apart in the mouth, melting away, sending meaty flavors and doughy chew all over, then slipping out as quickly as they came. The complex flavors of the shrimp, pork, and napa cabbage dumplings are muted by their tender wrapper, then re-awakened by the exciting buzz of garlic in the sauce.
Beyond the dumplings, the menu offers sections of Qungdao street eats (mostly meat on sticks), steamed buns in a variety of flavors, and a few options of noodle soups. The Grandma's noodle bowl is a thin broth, filled with long noodles and studded with chopped green beans. It is, as the name implies, just the thing you'd like grandma to bring you, and slurping the noodles in the wood-accented room of the dumpling house, with the front windows steamed and a steady chatter of Chinese in the air, infuses you with just the same feelings of comfort, relaxation, and overall wellness.