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East Flour: A Go-To for Authentic Dim Sum in Jersey City

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Leek pies. Peking duck buns. These northern Chinese breakfast foods are not always served in Chinese restaurants in China. So when East Flour, located at 103 Christopher Columbus Drive, opened in late 2018 making exactly this kind of food, the local Chinese diaspora was intrigued. It never achieved the “most popular local restaurant” status. The dishes are too every day, too “humble” to become hype. But they definitely live up to the expectations of many who miss the food at home. Read on to learn more about what makes East Flour in Jersey City so special. 

east flour

(Photo credit: @eastflour)

The Style

east flour

(Photo credit: @eastflour)

The menu of East Flour calls the small dishes “dim sum.” This is both accurate and inaccurate. The “dim sum” at East Flour is nothing like what American eaters get at a typical Chinatown dim sum restaurant, where large groups sit around banquet tables and eat from late morning to early afternoon on weekends. Here, the dishes would be better described as an everyday breakfast food.

Read More: A Guide To + History of Chinese Takeout in Hoboken + Jersey City

In modern Chinese cities, commuters love to stop by at neighborhood restaurants on their way to work. Sometimes they sit down and have a (very) quick bite, sometimes they take the food to go. The restaurants are often very small; sometimes not even a restaurant, only a pushcart, a table, and some chairs. The menu is simple – some pastries are savory, some protein, egg or tofu, and some soup or congee to wash down the dry dishes.  

east flour

(Photo credit: @eastflour)

East Flour’s food is also different from typical dim sum dishes in America, which are mostly of South China origin. Sure, there are soup dumplings on the menu, a Shanghai specialty that has become a fixture in American Chinese restaurants regardless of genre, but most dishes at East Flour have strong northern Chinese influence. They are meaty but easy on the stomach. 

The seasonings are simple but generous. And the wheat pastries are excellent, almost addictive. Many of the dishes such as steamed dumplings, steamed buns, pancakes with savory fillings,  are so popular across China that they are now synonymous with breakfast food.

The Food

east flour

(Photo credit: @eastflour)

Hoboken Girl first heard of East Flour about two years ago from the Chinese community in Jersey City’s Newport and downtown area. The neighborhood has, in recent years, attracted a large number of Chinese students and young professionals drawn to its convenient connection to Manhattan. 

Someone mentioned in a group chat that he sometimes ate small wonton with chili oil at East Flour for breakfast before heading to the Grove Street PATH station during his morning commute, and this set off a whole discussion on the restaurant’s other menu items. The pan-seared leek pie was “solid,” the fried dough, paired with housemade soymilk, “nostalgic,” and the purple rice congee, a nutty, mildly sweet rice pudding sometimes sold by street vendors in plastic cups, was a “rare find in America.” 

As the name suggests, pastries are East Flour’s strongest suit. They are savory and substantial, stuffed full of minced meat or mixed vegetables. Opt for the vegetable dumplings which are steamed or pan-seared, filled with chopped leafy greens and mushrooms. The inside is moist and well-seasoned. 

east flour

(Photo credit: @eastflour)

The wraps are stretchy and chewy, with an uneven, pleasant “bite” that can only be achieved with hand-kneading. The modern take on a homemade-style chicken meatballs sandwich is also noteworthy.

Another interesting and unique item is “shumai” (spelled as shao mai on the menu), but not the same kind as you get at a Cantonese dim sum place. These are giant pouches in paper-thin wraps, tightly packed with sticky rice and mushroom bits mixed together with a heady soy-based sauce.

east flour

(Photo credit: @eastflour)

For those who want something beyond “dim sum,” the noodles and cold dishes are excellent. The soup noodle dishes follow a simple formula have a similar construct – noodles at the bottom, a protein (mostly different cuts of beef, but adventurous eaters can try the intestines, which is very rich), blanched bok choy, a lot of cilantro, and a generous amount of broth. Dry noodles are also available, which come with scallion, sesame, or meat sauces. 

See More: YunBanBao: A Chinese Food Delivery Service Bringing Authentic Eats to Hudson County

Of the side dishes, Hoboken Girl strongly recommends beef tendon, a collagen-loaded cut slowly braised in a soy-based broth. 

As for the drinks, there are trendy Asian specialties such as bubble tea and fruit tea. For something really traditional, get the sweet plum juice, a tangy cold drink made of smoked plums and rock sugar. It’s iconic of old Beijing and is widely believed to be good for digestion in the summer. East Flour is a true gem.

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Written by:

Yiwei was born and raised in China. She has lived extensively in Beijing and Hong Kong, before finally settling down in New York. She moved to Hoboken after a few years in Westchester and immediately felt at home here. Two years ago, she left her job at an investment bank to travel the world and explore her interests, and has since then taken on a few freelancing gigs in career coaching, college admission consulting, and writing. When she is not wandering wildly in the streets of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, she can be found sipping an espresso in one of Hoboken's coffee shops or trying out restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City area.