Dumplings a.k.a. pockets full of joy when done correctly are a staple in many cuisines around the world. I personally think of the typical Chinese dim sum experience, but even within Chinese food you have your pot stickers, your har gow (shrimp dumpling, xiao long bao (soup dumpling), and then you have wontons in soup. And then there is the Italian pasta version the ravioli or the Polish pierogi or the Latin deep fried empanada.
Let’s face it, dumplings have been around for centuries and can be steamed, boiled, or fried. So what are NYC restaurants doing to bring these little guys back into the limelight?
1. Varying sizes- Mini to XL: Soup dumpling- Drunken Dumpling (MAP)
I love a good soup dumpling. there is something so satisfying from successfully picking up a delicate soup dumpling without breaking the skin and slurping of the hot broth so you don’t burn yourself because you can’t wait to eat it. There are a lot of great restaurants that you can soup dumplings now, you don’t have to drag yourself all the way to Chinatown.
A relatively new spot in the East Village called Drunken Dumpling caught my eye last year with the XL Xialongbao. This baby is sooo big you need a straw to drink the broth up, unfortunately these big guys are mostly soup and less filling, so you have to drink it up before you can diving into the rest of the dumpling. On the other side of the spectrum, they recently worked with @brunchboys to create the mini dumplings that come served in the good ol’ chinese take out container. You can really call them baby sized and I’m here for it!
A new comer on in the West Village is doing something different. Ever heard of Italian Dim Sum? Neither had I. But this is a really cool concept and just encouraged us to order more dishes to try everything. Sharing is caring and I was really digging the variety of options and combinations at Raviolo.
The highlight of the meal was definitely the ravioli that is served in 4 pieces with a sauce. Not a traditional full big bowl of a bunch of them which was nice because we got try a couple kinds. I really enjoyed the Parma Ham one!
3. Experimenting with Stuffings: Pho Soup dumpling- Rice & Gold (MAP)
A gratify filled industrial vibe restaurant is not what you think of when you hear there is a new hotel in Chinatown, but that is exactly how I would describe Rice & Gold, that plus there is a whole shelf full of Lucky Cats. This swanky restaurant is again reinventing the idea of dim sum but incorporating other Asian cuisines in with the Chinese classics.
Already established, I am a fan of soup dumplings But the twist at Rice & Gold is the filling! Vietnamese Pho, is typically a giant bowl of beef bone broth, noodles, various cuts of beef, been sprouts, and other veggies. They distilled that idea and fit the taste into the fill of the soup dumpling incorporating the broth and a beef meatball filling, and all the classic veggie toppings were served on top of the dumpling.
4. Highlighting the Condiment- Hot chili oil anyone? Pork Dumpling- 88 Lan Zhou Handmade Noodle and Dumpling (MAP)
Talk about a restaurant that doesn’t need to do any advertising. My Instagram feed has been popping up with this whole in the wall joint, that recently moved to Bowery, for months. I finally had to check it out because I couldn’t determine what made these dumplings so special. And the answered for me turned out that they are unbelievably affordable, they have a good taste, and most importantly CHILI OIL. t
The shared codiement that is on a lot of tables in Chinatown is overlooked a lot. The oil itself can vary is heat and spiciness but can really cut through heavier dishes. I’m pretty convienced the chili oil is why people flock to this place beacuse it was addicting.
Did someone turn up the cuteness factor? Man, I have been two Red Farm a couple times and both times I walked out of there feeling like did I really just pay $14 for 4 dumplings? And the answer is yes, because their Pac Man har gow are the just so darn cute. And what makes it even better is that they are colorful, not somethinig you typically thing of when you think Chinese food. They have dyed the skin pink, blue, etc to mimic the ghosts in the real game. Don’t worry they didn’t forget Pac Man himself, but he is made of tempured sweet potato.