Friday, September 5, 2008


Xiao long bao from Nan Shian Dumpling House in Flushing, Queens. Wrapper thicker than traditional Shanghai-style, but still not doughy. XLB's nickname "soup dumplings" stems from the melted gelatin "broth" that spills out once the first bite is taken. Potentially very dangerous to the roof of the mouth. Hasty eaters, proceed with caution.

So I've been on blahg vacation. What did I do over my summer break? Mostly, I ate. (Shocker.) In particular, I ate a veritable shitton of my favorite food ever: DUMPLINGSSSS. I was actually reluctant to even post this because I worry that I might launch into some epic dumpling rhapsody that never ends. I love dumplings in all of their cultural/ethnic incarnations:
gyoza, ravioli/tortellini, kreplach, peirogi, mandoo, shu mai, gnocchi, matzoh balls, etc. Whatever. I'll take it all.

But my favorite dumplings are Chinese ones: xiao long bao (soup dumplings), jiaozi, potstickers, wontons, bready steamed bao, and probably 999 others I can't think of right now. It is not at all uncommon for me go significantly out of my way (i.e., Flushing) in the hunt for quality dumplings. I never get sick of them. Maybe this is a product of living in China for 5 months, but I seem to recall that my obsession with these bad boys began much earlier--in all seriousness, I once asked the counselors at my Jewish summer camp if any of our SYSCO-catered meals would include pork dumplings.

Hong-Kong style shrimp/pork/ black mushroom wontons from Sifu Chio in Flushing, Queens. Very thin wrapper, chunky filling (whole shrimp), garnished with sliced scallions. Broth unexceptional. These wontons kind of look like brains, no?

I can't even begin to break down the regional dumpling differences across China, so suffice it to say that I am careful with my ordering: never expect quality XLB (xiao long bao) at a Cantonese restaurant (if they offer them at all)--XLB are Shanghai specialties, nowhere near the southern Canton province. Conversely, the best steamed bbq pork bao are usually found at southern bakeries, and the potstickers from Fuzhou-style shops usually have thinner wrappers and lighter filling than their heavier, doughier Beijing jiaozi counterparts. I'm not even going to attempt to tackle dim sum.

!!!SERIOUSLY THE BEST DUMPLINGS EVER!!! I am so psyched about this place. Lan Zhou Hand-Pulled Noodle on East Broadway in Manhattan. Fuzhou-style potstickers, impossibly thin wrapper, fried gently on the bottom, with a nice coating of wok hay, then steamed on top. Filling is only pork and tons of scallions. Served with a sweet-garlic soy sauce mixed with Sriracha. $2/10 dumplings. OMFG! I LOVE LZHPN.

Traditionally, dumplings are a great way to dispose of leftovers: nasty little bits of meat, the top end of scallions, random chunks of vegetables from other dishes. I prefer to completely ignore any of the potentially unsavory aspects of my little pets; why do you think they're so cheap? No one ever died from tainted dumplings. It strengthens your immune system. Get over it.

Spicy Shanghai-style pork/cabbage wontons, with hot pepper oil, from Unnamed Wholesale Dumpling Distributor Place That Looks Confused Every Time I Go There, by my house in Brooklyn. I love it when Asian places ask white kids if they want their food spicy, and the white kid says yes, and then the Asian cook goes apeshit with the hot oil and the white kid is left clutching their tongue and gasping for breath while attempting to eat in a public place. These were pretty good.

In conclusion, dumplings are basically God's Ideal Food. And I <3 dumplings of all shapes and sizes. But especially the Chinese ones.


RP said...

Ahhhhh............ relief at hand, Jamie the Blogger has returned to us!!! My cheeks were becoming hollow from hunger.



Noah Adler said...

um, you forgot the best dumplings of all?


Tasty Dumpling!

Michael Stasiak said...

Deadly dumplings are no laughing matter, Ms. Jamie. They even drove this food inspector to an untimely demise!

BF said...

what about your great grandma's fave dumplings....the kreplach??!!


Noah Adler said...

Jamie said...

@Noah: no offense, but seriously, dumpling house? that place seriously blows. gridskipper obviously should have hired me as a freelancer for this particular topic.

sweeetheartfever said...

i love dumplings. girrrll. you and i need to eat some things together.