Just call it the return of the Mat. More than three decades after the last of Manhattan’s original automats closed its doors permanently, the Upper East Side will soon be home to one of the vending machine-style eateries, thanks to Brooklyn Dumpling Shop. The popular downtown eatery will bring fresh-cooked bowls, classic sandwich-inspired dumplings and lightning-fast service to Lenox Hill next month.
A concept like no other on the Upper East Side right now, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop will open its cashier-less restaurant at 453 East 78th Street near the corner of York Avenue.
Customers will make their selections and place their mobile orders through their phones ahead of time or by using a kiosk in the restaurant.
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According to founder Stratis Morfogen, the famed restauranteur behind the Brooklyn Chop — and one-time owner of Philipe Chow on the Upper East Side — by placing your order ahead of time on their website, a customer can be in and out super fast, picking up their order in ten seconds flat.
Despite being a cashier-less restaurant, customers aren’t left to fend for themselves. Friendly greeters are available in the restaurant to assist when necessary and even make recommendations if you’re unsure what to order.
Picking it up is as easy as scanning a QR or bar code and grabbing your eats from their custom-made Automat. A nearby screen lets you know when your food is ready and which piping hot box among the array of 23 compartments contains your order.
The dumplings are, of course, the star of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop and come two ways: seared or crispy. Customers can stick with traditional potstickers stuffed with familiar flavors like pork and cabbage, Kung Pao chicken, and there’s even one for vegetarians stuffed with a delightful mix of vegetables.
If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the specialty dumpling menu because that’s where the real magic happens. Stratis Morfogen has converted staples like the corned beef Rueben, macaroni and cheese, lamb gyro and chicken parmesan.
“We’ve taken 25 diner classic sandwiches and made them into dumplings,” Morfogen explained in an interview with Upper East Site, “I call [Brooklyn Dumping Shop] the house of the two-ounce sandwich.”
And he’s right. An order is like having five tiny crispy, doughy, delicious little sandwiches boxed up and waiting for you to sink your teeth into them — or share them with a friend.
“The dumpling is the most fun food to eat,” Morfogen continued, “Kids love it. It’s great to introduce new foods to children. And who doesn’t like a two-ounce chicken parm sandwich?”
Vegan and gluten-free dumplings are available in vegetable, Thai peanut chicken and ginger chicken made with plant-based ingredients.
Don’t sleep on the rest of the menu at Brooklyn Dumpling House. Borrowing the decadent, savory, and sweet peanut sauce from his Brooklyn Chop House — a recipe that originated at high-end UES eatery Philipe Chow — Morfogen introduced Chop Chop bowls to the Dumpling Shop menu featuring the tasty topping as well as Chop House’s Teriyaki, Kung Pao and Sweet and Sour sauces.
Rounding out the menu is a selection of side dishes, including sweet and spicy slaw with peanuts, waffle fries and lo mein.
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Upper East Site has learned that the restaurant will feature a glass partition, like the original East Village flagship location, between the dining area and kitchen so diners can see the cooks prepare their food.
“Half the restaurant is usually a glass kitchen where people can see the people working. So everything is cooked to order,” Morfogen said, “But what’s nice is the automat keeps them controlled at 140 degrees for hot food and 38 degrees for cold. Customers love it. It keeps everything nice and safe and warm.”
Fountain soda lovers will also be happy that Brooklyn Dumpling Shop uses Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. Coke Zero, Mellow Yellow and a nearly unlimited assortment of custom soft drink options are available to wash down your dumplings. There are also plans for a full bar at the upcoming UES location.
Upper East Site has learned the highly-anticipated new Upper East Side automat will open on June 12th. Until then, you can visit them on First Avenue and St. Mark’s Place in the East Village.
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I wish they actually used the machines like a real automat instead of just order holders.