There's something charming about Tucson's simple, straightforward, tell-it-like-it-is restaurant names.
For example, The Quesadillas offers outstanding quesadillas and tacos. Pat's Chili Dogs... well... you get the point.
Just south of the University of Arizona campus sits China Pasta House, a modest, unassuming dive of a restaurant featuring noodles and dumplings made from scratch.
Next to a liquor store, China Pasta House doesn't have a flashy sign or exterior. Crowds of Chinese students regularly fill the place for their comfort food fix.
The interior is also as plain as it gets. More often than not, an older Chinese woman in flip flops will smile and walk over to your table with menus. Her English isn't the best, so don't bother with too many questions. Just order what sounds good.
Dumplings are the easy answer. While China Pasta House offers several varieties of dumplings, shrimp or leeks & pork are safe bets. Shrimp has a sweet, snappy bite, while the leeks & pork offer a simple oniony flavor with a touch of ginger.
The pork steamed buns are not actually buns — they're soup dumplings. Let them cool down just a bit, then pop the whole thing in your mouth for an explosion of gelatinous porky broth.
The accompanying sauce tastes like a mixture of soy sauce and Chinese black vinegar — containers of both, as well as Sriracha, are on each table, so don't be scared to temper the sauce to your liking.
While the dumplings are addictive, they aren't filling unless you eat more than a dozen. Grab some friends to share a few different types.
Bonus tip: the Preserved Egg & Pork Gruel ($1.50), also known as rice congee or porridge, works magic for a cold or hangover. Don't forget to add a Fried Bread Stick ($1) to dip and a Tea-Stewed Egg ($0.50) because at fifty cents, why not.
China Pasta House is located at 430 N. Park Ave. For more information, call (520) 623-3334 or visit chinapastahousetucson.com.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...