T. Roots, a restaurant proclaiming to sell Taiwanese street food, recently opened in downtown Northampton, MA. The menu has the expected hits of Taiwanese cuisine – oyster omelet, scallion pancakes wrapped around beef, congee and stewed pork over rice – and several Japanese dishes – various types of curry rice and Omurice. T. Roots supposedly has a strong pedigree, the owner previously ran Taiwanese restaurants in NYC before moving to Western MA. Maybe the restaurant is still finding its rhythm as it starts up but I was quite disappointed with my meal; the dumplings I had were bad, but the pork egg roll was decent. I dined outside at one of the two tables in front of the restaurant, which was really pleasant. Because of COVID all the food is being served in disposable to go containers.
The Dumplings: The menu has a wide selection of dumplings: cream cheese wontons; spicy wontons; BBQ Pork buns; soup dumplings; pork, beef, or vegetable pan fried dumplings; pork or vegetable steamed dumplings; sweet buns; and pork, shrimp or vegetable crystal dumplings.
Spicy Wontons – Wontons in spicy oil is one of my favorite dishes and T. Roots’ version of this dish was a big disappointment. The pork filling of the wontons was well seasoned and tasty and the wonton wrappers were large and floppy, better to carry the sauce. But the wontons had an uneven temperature with parts that were warm and parts that were cool, which made me think the wontons had been microwaved. The sauce was a typical soy based dipping sauce you would expect to get with pan fried dumplings and had absolutely no spicy heat at all.
Pan Fried Pork Dumplings – The only good thing I can write about these dumplings was that they were juicy. The filling had a metallic flavor that I associate with under cooked ginger and the wrappers had a tough rubbery texture that was unpleasant to chew. My hypothesis is that the dumplings were pre-cooked and left to sit before being reheated for my meal, and during the sitting period the wrappers hardened. Either that or the dough had an insanely high gluten content.
Soup Dumplings – These dumplings suffered a complete failure of execution. The dumplings were overcooked to the point where the wrappers had all ruptured and the soup had spilled out. The dumplings were served in a pool of soup and pork fat with pieces of wrapper floating in it. The soup and pork tasted good, but rapidly congealed in the to go container. The dipping sauce was really odd and unpleasant. Usually soup dumplings come with a black vinegar sauce, but the sauce I received tasted like a mix of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar and soy sauce. The sauce was also served in a thimble sized plastic container, so it was impossible to dip the dumplings in the sauce.
The Location: T. Roots is located on the corner of Main Street and Masonic St. in Northampton MA in the old Viva Fresh Pasta Co. location. During the COVID-19 pandemic they are doing take-out and have 6 tables for dining outside.