Tasty Dumpling (5/$1.25)
The Wrapper: 9/10 Perfect thickness, chewy and pliant.
The Filling: 9/10 Super porky, and plenty of fat and juices. A hint of ginger, and the right level of sweetness.
The Ratio: 4/5 Very plump.
Crispness: 3/5 They could have been a deeper golden brown, but they were plenty crisp nonetheless.
Tasty Dumpling: 54 Mulberry Street, (212) 349-0070
Prosperity Dumpling (5/$1)
The Wrapper: 8/10 the only complaint is that the top edges were a little bit dried out.
The Filling: 7/10 Plenty of chives, could have used a bit more salt.
The Ratio: 5/5 Stuffed to the brim, without overwhelming the wrapper.
Crispness: 3/5 Uneven crisping, with a few slightly burnt spots, but overall not too much of a distraction.
Prosperity Dumpling: 46 Eldridge Street, (212) 343-0683
Vanessa's Dumpling House (4/$1)
The Wrapper: 6/10 Much too thick and doughy, though it was at least fresh-tasting.
The Filling: 8/10 Nicely balanced, sweet and salty, though they could use a bit more chive.
The Ratio: 3/5 Plenty of filling, but the thickness of the wrapper means you wind up with a mouth full of dough at the end.
Crispness: 4.5/5 Very evenly cooked, and though you have to wait to get them, fast turnover at this packed shop means that you always get them fresh and crisp.
Vanessa's Dumpling House: 54 Mulberry Street, (212) 349-0070
China North Dumpling (5/$1)
The Wrapper: 6/10 Good thickness, but more doughy than chewy or elastic.
The Filling: 6/10 Not much flavor, bordering on slightly dry.
The Ratio: 3/5 Not skimpy, but they certainly could have done with a bit more pork.
Crispness: 5/5 The best fried crust of all. Deep, even golden brown across the entire bottom surface.
China North Dumpling: 27 Essex Street, (212) 529-2700
Jin Mei Dumplings (5/$1)
The Wrapper: 4/10 Very little elasticity, and poorly sealed, leading to a complete loss of juices.
The Filling: 3/10 Not bone dry, but not moist by any stretch of the imagination. Poor wrapping job made sure of that.
The Ratio: 2/5 A small smear of meat on a large expanse of dough.
Crispness: 2/5 Perhaps if you get them perfectly fresh they can be crisp, but ours were lukewarm and brittle/stale tasting more than crispy.
Jin Mei Dumplings: 25B Henry St
Fried Dumpling (5/$1)
The Wrapper: 3/10 This might be the most well known, but their assemble is slapdash. Lots of un-sealed dumplings, coupled with really rude service.
The Filling: 2/10 It's tough to tell what kind of meat is in here, and it's comparatively dry.
The Ratio: 2/5 Very little meat makes what appears to be a great deal not so much of one after all.
Crispness: 2/5 If you're lucky, they're crisp. Most likely, they've been sitting under a lid turning soggy and stale.
Fried Dumpling: 106 Mosco Street 212-693-1060
Inexpensive Delicacies Company, Inc. (5/$1)
The Wrapper: 2/10 Lazy wrapping job with un-sealed dumplings and large holes torn into the sides of a few.
The Filling: 1/10 Nearly inedible—these were the only ones that we actually discarded after tasting. Almost rotten tasting.
The Ratio: 2/5 Like the previous two shops, these have only got a small smear of meat—not necessarily a bad thing when the filling is so poor.
Crispness: 1/5 Nearly completely pale in appearance, what little crispness there may have been at one point was completely lost (they were served lukewarm and tasted like they'd probably been sitting there for hours, if not days).
Inexpensive Delicacies Company, Inc.:99 Allen Street, 212-941-9975