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Crispy chicken dumpings with carrots, shiitakes, cilantro, garlic, and a dipping sauce that I wish Pad Thai would bottle and sell. [Photograph: Elizabeth Bomze]

Like I said in my Colby College Tour post earlier this year, Pad Thai Too fed me more than any other Waterville kitchen during college—maybe even more than the dining hall. Everybody had their go-to dish, be it the drunken noodles, the excellent curries, or the namesake (and really well-executed) pad Thai, but the order that appeared on almost every table was the fried dumplings ($5.25).

The funny thing is, they don't sound exceptional on paper. They're made with chicken, which, in my dumpling world, almost always plays second fiddle to pork. That prejudice led me astray once, when I ordered their pork gyoza instead. Big mistake; they're not even close.

In fact, I've never been able to figure out exactly what it is about these beggar's purses that makes them so addictive. Maybe the other ingredients mixed with the chicken—carrots, shiitakes, cilantro, and garlic—are especially well balanced. Maybe those doing the deep-frying really nail the crisp-chewy bite on the frilly wonton wrappers. And I'm sure the dipping sauce is part of the appeal; it's a thin, salty-sweet syrup that must be built on plenty of soy sauce and sugar, and maybe some vinegar and garlic. (I've asked the owners for the recipe, and for a bottle of it to go, but to no avail.) But good dumplings can't get by on sauce alone.

Whatever the draw, those dumplings have only become more popular since I was in college. Now they're not only an appetizer all their own, but also a component in several other dishes on the menu: soup and several noodle preparations, including three versions of pad Thai where the crispy nuggets are the main attraction. I just wish they delivered to Boston.

Pad Thai Too

400 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville ME 04901 (map)
207-859-8900; padthaitoo.me

About the author: Liz Bomze lives in Brookline, MA, and works as the Associate Features Editor for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. In her free time, she freelances regularly for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian, and Martha's Vineyard Magazine; practices bread-baking and canning; takes photos; reads; and watches baseball. Top 5 foods: fresh noodles, gravlax, sour cherry pie, burrata, ma po tofu.

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