Fried Pork Dumplings with Chives at Tasty Dumpling ($1.25 for 5)
Tasty Dumpling's fried pork dumplings won us over in our Chinatown dumpling taste test with their gingery filling, well-balanced sweetness, and the supreme savoriness provided by plenty of pork fat and juices. While you're there, also keep on the lookout for their excellent pork, shrimp, and watercress wontons, which pop up from time to time as a special.
Tasty Dumpling: 54 Mulberry Street, New York, NY10013 (map); 212-349-0070
Boiled Pork Dumplings at Lam Zhou ($2 for 8, $3 for 12)
Lam Zhou is perhaps best known for their hand-pulled noodles, but you really can't leave without also ordering their boiled or fried pork and chive dumplings. Their delicate skins encase a rich, juicy filling enhanced by a briny jolt of soy sauce.
Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle: 144 East Broadway, New York NY10002 (map); 212-566-6933
Sweet Rice Dumplings at Lam Zhou ($3 for 10)
If you've got room left for dessert after filling up on noodles and pork dumplings at Lam Zhou, make sure to check out their sweet rice dumplings. The insides have chopped peanuts in a thick, sweet syrup, making for a treat that's crunchy, chewy, nutty, and sticky in every bite.
Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle: 144 East Broadway, New York NY 10002 (map); 212-566-6933
Pork and Leek Pan-Fried Dumplings at Sliced Noodles ($5 for 8)
Sliced Noodles prepares these potstickers in a unique way: while steaming, their wrappers release a starch that forms a crust at the bottom of the pan, connecting all eight pieces into one giant disk. Aside from their stunning appearance, these dumplings have wonderfully juicy pork stuffed inside their taut skins.
Sliced Noodles: Basement food court in the New World Mall, 136-20 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354 (map)
Pork and Fennel Dumplings at Best North Dumpling ($4.50 for 10)
Although labelled as pork and fennel on the menu, the filling in these dumplings is actually spiked with fragrant dill, making for a flavor combination you could almost call refreshing.
Best North Dumpling: 41-42A Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355 (map)
Spicy & Sour Lamb Dumplings at Biang! and Xi'an Famous Foods ($7.75 for 6)
At Biang! and Xi'an Famous Foods, the lamb dumplings are so incredibly juicy that you might just risk squirting their meaty and slightly sour insides clear across the table. They arrive steaming in a bowl of hot and sour chili oil and black vinegar-spiked sauce. It's the sort of unique flavor experience that this Flushing eatery, as well as their sister-institution Xi'an Famous Foods, is well known for.
Wontons in Hot Oil at White Bear ($4.50 for 12)
As if a big plate of pork-filled, herb-studded wontons with feathery skins in itself isn't enough to whet your appetite, these come floating in a slick of glistening, bright red chili oil and are topped with a generous shake of Sichuan pepper and chopped scallion. Although they may look perilously spicy, White Bear actually keeps the heat from going too far over the edge.
White Bear: 135-02 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354 (map); 718-961-2322
Wonton Noodle Soup at Sifu Chio ($6.95)
Out of the many wonton noodle soups throughout this city, Sifu Chio's version may be the best. The rice wine-spiked chicken broth is host to bouncy noodles, crunchy greens, and plump wontons filled with savory pork, shrimp, and watercress.
Sifu Chio: 40-09 Prince Street, Flushing, NY 11354 (map); 718-888-9295
Small Wonton Soup at Lao Wang Ji ($2.50)
Fujianese-style small wonton soup involves achieving a precarious balance between tiny bits of meat, paper-thin dough, and steaming hot broth. Lao Wang Ji nails it, offering up a soup that, above all, is a textural experience like nothing else.
Lao Wang Ji: First floor of the Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355 (map)
Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings at RedFarm ($14 for 4)
Soup dumplings make for the ideal package in which to deliver the intense combination of crab, pork mushroom, and yellow leek at RedFarm. Place one of them on your spoon, nibble a hole, suck out the juice, and you'll be left with sticky, pork and crab scented lips to smack long after the dumpling is gone.
Soup Dumplings at Shanghai Cafe Deluxe ($4.95 for 8)
Shanghai Cafe Deluxe's soup dumplings won our Chinatown taste test back in 2011, and on a recent visit, we found they were still going strong. What sets them out from the rest of the pack is that they are rolled, stuffed, shaped, and steamed just before serving, guaranteeing a consistent freshness that shines through in the flavor and texture of the wrapper.
Shanghai Cafe Deluxe: 100 Mott Street, New York NY 10013 (map); 212-966-3988
Har Gow at Pacificana ($3.50 for 4)
Sunset Park dim sum palace Pacificana offers up a number of satisfying dumpling options, but we'd especially recommend the har gow. Inside their translucent skins is a crisp and fresh filling made entirely from shrimp.
Fried Cabbage Vareniki at Varenichnaya ($6.95)
For a crash course in the different varieties of Eastern European dumplings, head to Brighton Beach's Varenichnaya. The cafe offers up pelmeni, blintzes, and manti in a number of sweet and savory flavors. We're particularly fond of the fried cabbage vareniki for its sweet caramelized filling and delicate wrapper.
Varenichnaya: 3086 Brighton 2nd Street, Brooklyn, NY 11235 (map); 718-332-9797
Vegetable Momos at Dhaulagiri Kitchen ($4 for 8)
Dhaulagiri Kitchen is one of Jackson Heights' standout purveyors of traditional Himalayan food, with their momos being among the finest in the 'hood. Although they offer tasty versions in chicken, beef, and paneer, we are particularly fond of the vegetable momos, which pack enough flavor to make them satisfying even without any dipping sauce.
Dhaulagiri Kitchen: 37-38 72nd Street, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (map); 718-457-7766
Beef Momos at Woodside Cafe ($5.95 for 8)
Another great place to get momos is Woodside Cafe, which specializes in Newari cuisine from the area around Kathmandu. Their beef momo filling is flavored with garam masala and wrapped in an exceptionally fresh and chewy dough sprinkled with cilantro.
Semolina Dumplings with Creamed Spinach, Poached Egg and Roasted Vegetables at Cafe Katja ($14)
Although you wouldn't expect a German and Austrian restaurant to serve up a solid selection of vegetarian dishes, the Lower East Side's Cafe Katja does so with grace and ease. One standout is their take on griessnockerl (traditional semolina dumplings), which are served with a hearty mix of vegetables and a meltingly soft poached egg.
Lamb Chuchvara at Chayhana Salom ($6.50)
Chuchvara are round, meat-filled dumplings with slippery, paper thin wrappers—sort of like an Uzbek tortellini. At Chayhana Salom in Sheepshead Bay, they come floating in a rich and salty broth that is mellowed out by the addition of sour cream.
Kreplach Soup at Ben's Delicatessen ($4.79)
Kreplach too often gets overshadowed by its more famous cousin, the matzoh ball. If you've never had one, they're basically oversized dumplings stuffed with ground beef and onion—not exactly photogenic food, but delicious nonetheless. At Ben's Delicatessen, you can get kreplach fried with onions, or, as we like it, floating in chicken broth with noodles.
Tortellini Panna at Osteria Morini ($20)
While the veal and mortadella filling in these delicately shaped tortellini is pleasantly gamey, the creamy duck liver sauce is what sends this dish over the top, reminding us why Michael White is one of our favorite pasta masters in this city.
Cheese Pierogi at Little Poland ($8.25 for 8)
Not all the pierogi fillings are good at this East Village standby, but the sweet cheese version stands out. Delicately fried skins with the thin chewiness of a good crepe hide small curd farmers cheese with a dose of sweetness and a bare hint of tang. Sour cream is a welcome accompaniment, as is some applesauce.
Little Poland: 200 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003 (map); 212-777-9728