Dumplings reimagined - that's the motto at Packed. It sounds interesting, and it is, but the end result leaves you wanting more.
Walking into Packed leaves no doubt they’re big on the whole save the planet thing. In addition to green walls and pictures of cows, signs point out that all of the little plates and utensils are 100% compostable. You’ll be feeling good as you walk up to the counter, place your order, and take a seat waiting for your order of pastrami/corn dog/lobster dumplings to come out. But that’s when the problems with this fast-casual concept start.
The dumplings come out as they’re prepared, which means not all at once. In a normal small plates setting this would be fine, but it feels off here. If you get several orders of three dumplings to share, you'll end up eating one or two dumplings at a time and then waiting for the rest. It’s like getting served a chipotle burrito in staggered 1/8 increments - not ideal.
The dumplings themselves run the gamut from good to not so great. The one thing you can count on is an ever-changing menu and interesting combinations. Ever had a pastrami dumpling? Packed sometimes has them. Plus things like lobster, short rib, tamale, corndog, and cheeseburger dumplings. Our advice is to try them all, because this is more of a novelty stop in Hyde Park than a reoccurring meal.
Packed is intriguing, but we're not ready to declare fancy, eco-friendly dumplings the next big trend. Not everything needs to be reimagined.
The menu is broken up into different sections, and most fit into the "Packed" category. Options change monthly, but we've seen everything from duck, short rib, and pastrami, to cheeseburger, corn dog, and lobster dumplings. Don't hold back if you're here and feel free to try it all. Things are really hit or miss.
Packed always has a few dumplings in their "ladled" category, which means soup dumplings. Get them, whatever they are.
Skip the sides and order more dumplings.