It wasn’t that long ago that I went to Valencia Luncheria for dinner. I parked where I usually do, on that side of the street, almost directly across from the laundromat. When I came out of Valencia, I noticed a sign with a blushing anime character on it that read “Good Hope Dumpling & Ramen House.” I vaguely remembered that a couple friends mentioned it. After I walked by, Good Hope was fully on my radar.
I just hoped Good Hope would be good.
There were positive signs besides a few of my pals who said they liked it, and the fact that their online reviews are solid. When I walked by the just over 20-seat restaurant (it’s the old Valencia location) at an obscure Sunday dinnertime, the place was packed, and I’ve noticed they gather a decent lunch crowd, even on weekdays. I had to check it out. What’s more is it’s just the kind of neighborhood haunt I like to highlight.
What I won’t do is get into a whole thing about who’s got the best ramen or compare it to others in the area. Ramen is a funny topic. Everyone has a favorite, others wholeheartedly disagree with your favorite, an Asian soup war of words ensues, it goes nowhere. There just doesn’t seem to be a consensus. One thing ramen geeks will do is try other ramen soup spots. So, if for no other reason, give Good Hope a shot. Other reasons to try it—if you need convincing—are its affordability (nothing is over $13) and it’s new, having opened in January.
Good Hope is what it says it is; mostly dumplings and ramen. It’s not 100% Japanese (its owners are Chinese) so you’ll notice the menu rounds out with a spring roll, wonton soup, dandan noodles, and a few Szechuan dinner specials that become available after 5:30 p.m.
We stopped in for lunch and decided to dive into three soups. Only the pho didn’t hit the mark; the broth lacked that depth of flavor that’s common in a good pho, typically achieved by a long simmer of beef bones, spices, and fish sauce.
The tonkatsu was on-point, especially it’s not-too-thin, not-too-thick broth. There was a strong porky taste without that layer of liquid fat that can sometimes rise to the top, and extra points for crispy pork belly. A big hit was the spicy miso. The drops of chili oil gave the chicken broth good heat, and chunks of tender fried chicken on top is never a bad thing.
As far as their handmade dumplings are concerned, you will find something you like. Whether that’s a vegetarian dumpling or one of the other pan-fried versions, that’s on you. I’m a sucker for any version with Szechuan chili sauce and I was thrilled with Good Hope’s. It wasn’t only the adequate amount of pork in each dumpling that won me over, it was the chili sauce. My lips tingled, but not so much that I needed a glass of milk to wash it away. It was a pleasant burn.
If you’re wondering about beverages other than water or soda, Good Hope has bubble tea! Normally that would be exciting, except Good Hope is BYOB! So, get out your best lagers, pilsners, witbiers, or ales and bring ‘em with you. As if I didn’t like Good Hope enough already, the BYOB factor puts it over the top. Yeah, I can see myself becoming a regular here. I’m all for more noods in Fairfield County and since it feels like January 74th weather-wise, you should toss your booze in a brown bag, head over to Good Hope, get yo’ slurp on, and warm your soul.
Good Hope Dumpling & Ramen House
172 Main Street; Norwalk
(203) 957-8881; http://goodhopefood.business.site/