If Dr. Moreau had used his weird science to create delicious cuisine instead of hideous creatures of the wild, Lumi Empanada & Dumpling Kitchen might just be the result.
Blending traditional dishes and flavors from both Brazil and Vietnam, then throwing in a little Chinese and Mexican influence for extra flair, the tiny house-cum-restaurant (let’s hope that gets passed your SPAM filter) excels in every section of the menu with a few odd combinations that are truly inspired.
Sparsely designed interiors and a quaint patio overlooking McKinney Avenue and the frat boys stumbling from Primo’s to their cars illegally parked at Walgreen’s, Lumi focuses on food rather than a distracting décor. And with so many items winning over that organ beneath our six-pack abs (our stomachs), let’s get to the highlights.
The small plates are all so satisfying, that they might as well drop the three full-portion entrees and focus solely on the nibbly bits. This is reach-across-the-table-and-grab-your-friend’s-plate dining at its finest. Order several dishes and prepare to fight over the last morsel on each plate.
Each of the three soups are delectable, but our favorite is easily the Roasted Poblano Pepper & Chicken Soup. Silky, delightfully spicy without being painful, and filled with chunks of chicken, this one’s so good you’ll ignore the fact that it’s 132 degrees outside and order up a bowl.
As for the dumplings and empanadas that Lumi is soon to be famous for, you can’t go wrong with the Classic Pork and Chives Dumplings (order them pan-fried), but the Thai Panang Curry Chicken Dumplings with creamy coconut-curry sauce is like a trip to Thailand without the male prostitutes and scabies outbreaks.
On the empanada side, the family recipe dough is stuffed with veggie, seafood or meaty options and Spinach, Mozzarella & Portobello with cilantro cream sauce is a tasty, earthy combination that works wonderfully as a hand-held treat.
Chinese BBQ Ribs, Spicy Sriracha Buffalo Wings and Saucy Edamame are all messy, finger-licking choices that we’d order again in a heartbeat, but our never-ending, undying, eternal, everlasting, Thesaurus-busting devotion belongs to the Fresh Vietnamese Summer Rolls. We want to be buried with these. No, scratch that. We want to be buried inside one of these. Grilled pork, cucumbers and romaine lettuce merge inside a thin rice paper wrap for a taste that is out-of-this-world thanks almost entirely to the perfectly seasoned pork (with a little help from one of the city’s best peanut sauces). Just a warning. If you go with us to Lumi, we won’t be sharing these with anyone.
Unless you’ve got a really big egg roll you’re willing to offer in trade.
Lumi Empanada & Dumpling Kitchen
3407 McKinney Avenue, Dallas