Oriental Flavor is a Dim Sum restaurant that was recently opened by a waiter and a chef from the previously great, but now sadly fading Amherst Chinese. As a true Dim Sum restaurant, Oriental Flavor opens for breakfast and serves congee. The local community bank, Common Capital Inc., that backed the restaurant has a page dedicated to the new restaurant. I have been there twice, doing my best to work my way through the menu and almost all of the dishes I’ve tried have been excellent. This is the best Chinese restaurant in the Pioneer Valley and will be my new go-to place, perhaps though, with Ginger Garden rotated in every now and then.
The Dumplings: There is an extensive selection of dumplings available at Oriental Flavor, we tried the soup dumplings, the vegetable dumplings, the crystal vegetable dumplings and the fried pork buns.
Soup Dumplings – The broth in the soup dumplings was rich, fatty and really flavorful, and the meatball floating in the broth had a nice pork flavor with a little bit of chives, but suffered a little from a lack of ginger. The dumplings came packed with soup, at least a full Chinese soup spoon full in each dumpling. The wrappers were just the right thickness to maintain their integrity and cradle the soup.
Vegetable Dumplings – These dumplings had a spinach infused wrapper that was pale green in color and mildly sweet – the wrapper is egg-free so these dumplings are vegan. The filling appeared to be a mince of pressed tofu, bok choy, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and glass noodles. These dumplings were quite well done and tasty.
Crystal Vegetable Dumplings – Of the two vegetable dumplings we tried, these were the least successful. The crystal wrapper was a little thick and got a little gummy in texture as the dumplings cooled. The filling appeared to be comprised of bok choy, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and cilantro. I always find it odd that cilantro so frequently appears in Asian dishes, as like my dining companion, many Asians are allergic to it.
Fried Pork Bun – These buns are a common breakfast item in Shanghai and are essentially a pork meat ball packed inside of a small bun. Because the bun is leavened and slightly bready these are technically not dumplings, but I am a fan so they make it into the blog. Oriental Flavor does a really excellent Pork Bun, slightly larger than others I have had (see Shanghai Asian Cuisine in NYC). They were crispy fried on the bottom and came three to an order with chopped scallions sprinkled on top. These buns also re-fry up great, so get an order to go and have them later as a snack.
Dipping Sauce: The two dipping sauces served at Oriental Flavor were a bit of a disappointment. First of all, they don’t provide a large enough portion or dish to really dip the dumpling in and secondly the flavors of the sauces were a little indistinct. Of the two, the ginger flavored sauce is the best, but I wish the owners had brought the delicious and bold ginger flavored dipping sauce over with them from Amherst Chinese.
Location: Amherst MA is a traditionally laid out New England village with a common green at the center of the town, and Oriental Flavor is right on the common.