Po's Dumpling Bar
Location: 1715 W. 39th St., KC MO
Food: Above-average KC Chinese
Service: Incredibly friendly
Atmosphere: Too quiet but nicer than many other Chinese places in KC
Price: Entrees starting at $9.95
Rating: one napkin
Po's is, if nothing else, a better option for Chinese in KC. I haven't got a ton to say about it in this review because my recent trip there was mostly what I expected, and most people would. The food was decent. The restaurant was the typical hush-hush, sterile atmosphere, cleaner and more contemporary feeling than the likes of Szechuan down the street but not as alive or vibrant as Blue Koi to the West. But it's a solid, and for Chinese restaurants in KC, that means something.
What's always appealed to me about Po's is that it calls itself a dumpling bar. I love dumplings and often leave Chinese restaurants wishing I'd eaten just dumplings instead of a gloppily sauced plateful of veggies. That sentiment held true after this recent trip.
Our Cha Su Buns were incredible. If you've not had these deliciously fluffy, yet sticky pork buns, the flavor is, surprisingly, close to that of a pig-in-a-blanket... slightly sweet pork, piping hot and steaming inside a puff ball dumpling purse. Two of them come served in a metal steamer dish like little clouds of perfection. They're a must-have on the starter menu.
Also from the starter menu, we ordered the Emperor's Dumplings - pork - which come six to an order, pan fried. [I don't understand why people get steamed dumplings when the pan friend ones have such an incredible crunch on the spots where the wrapper touches the pan, contrasting with the rest which is wonderfully chewy and soft.] These dumplings, with special dipping sauce on the side, did not disappoint either. They come in a little pinched taquito shape, as opposed to the half-moon you see so often, and were surprisingly filling.
Our other starter was Elizabeth's Tofu Vegetable Soup. Its delicate, umami-flavored broth came with pretty bits of broccoli, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, scallions and silky soft tofu. It was light yet flavorful. Nothing feels quite as therapeutic as does eating a light Asian soup like this. Its earthy, unctuous aroma imparts a certain satisfaction of the soul.
Our entree of hunan chicken was fine, though seemingly identical to what one could probably get at any other Chinese restaurant in town. Crisp tender steamed veggies and a huge portion of cooked chicken came coated in a dark sauce. Its flavors were fine but this dish din't carry the same enjoyment as the starters, upholding my theory that if I'd stick to the dumplings and soups, I'd be a bigger fan of Chinese restaurants. But it was plentiful, and for that I was glad.
New Chinese Authentic Dishes" section, which speaks volumes to their dedication to the type of food they make and serve, but the real treat here are those soft little pillows of joy. With this kind of food, a nice looking dining room and incredibly friendly service, it's hard not to like Po's. Sure, a little music, additions to the decor and a more assertive service approach would be nice, but it's definitely an enjoyable place as is.
Rating: one napkin