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Our 10 Favorite NYC Dumplings

Carboload on Potato Varenyky at Ukrainian East Village Restaurant.
Carboload on Potato Varenyky at Ukrainian East Village Restaurant.
Lauren Shockey

Dumplings comprise one of the world's favorite foods, a mysterious feat given their prosaic nature. After all, they are just pockets of dough encasing a filling. Yet, so supremely delicious. For this 10 Best, we want to celebrate dumplings from different culinary traditions. For the most part, we've excluded dishes made with pastry dough (empanadas) and multi-part dishes like chicken and dumplings to ease the selection process. Not that it really helped -- dumplings are a dime a dozen in this city, and your favorite gnudi, khinkali, pozi, manti, pitepalt, wonton, gujia, and kreplach are likely not on this list. But here are our faves. As for yours -- well, that's what the comments are for.

10. Potato Varenyky at Ukrainian East Village Restaurant: You've gotta pity Ukrainian East Village Restaurant. Not only is it hidden at the end of a long hallway in the Ukrainian National Home, it's located next to Veselka, which shines bright in the limelight. Unfortunate, because the food at this wood-paneled restaurant (think Communist chic!) is top-notch, way better than that at its neighbors, and its varenyky (pierogi) are especially delicious. We're partial to the potato ones, which come piping hot and soft, topped with chopped onions and sour cream. Carboloading never felt so good. 140 Second Avenue, 212-614-3283

9. Spaetzle at Heartbreak: Spaetzle might be the forgotten dumpling, perhaps because Austrian cuisine gets little love in this big city. But these nubby nuggets delight, both the version served as a side and the appetizer käsespätzle, which takes a bath in grated gruyère and caramelized onions. 29 East 2nd Street, 212-777-2502

8. Momo at Mustang Thakali Kitchen: Momo are Nepali and Tibetian dumplings, and can be fried, steamed, or boiled. The cumin-laced veggie version wows, yet one of the restaurant's most interesting momo is the ting momo, which resembles more of a steamed bun, and is packed with chicken and vegetables, and covered in ridges. 74-14 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights, 718-898-5088

Nom Wah Tea Parlor's Sui Mai
Nom Wah Tea Parlor's Sui Mai
Lauren Shockey

7. Pork Sui Mai at Nom Wah Tea Parlor: Sui Mai (also known as shumai, among other variants) is a good dumpling with which to measure the quality of a dim sum restaurant. And the ones served at the recently reopened Nom Wah Tea Parlor are great. Stuffed with pork and shrimp, these hot babies are juicy and full of flavor. A kosher nightmare, maybe, but our culinary wet dream. 13 Doyers Street, 212-962-6047

6. Goose Liver Ravioli at Babbo: Mario Batali's upscale Italian restaurant offers a variety of filled pastas, which in our book counts as dumplings. The version with beef cheeks and truffles is quite impressive, but there's something even more special about the pairing of balsamic brown butter and silky goose liver filling. Perhaps its ability to simultaneously raise our cholesterol and happiness levels? 110 Waverly Place, 212-777-0303

 

At only $1, Prosperity Dumplings indeed leave you prosperous.
At only $1, Prosperity Dumplings indeed leave you prosperous.
Lauren Shockey

5. Fried Pork Dumplings at Prosperity Dumpling: Eldridge Street might be the cheap-dumpling capital of New York City, with Vanessa's Dumplings and Hua Du Dumpling Shop. But for the best of the block, drop by Prosperity Dumpling. Nicely fried and just a tad oily, with dough that's tender and not overworked, these five dumplings only cost a buck. 46 Eldridge Street, 212-343-0683

4. Quark Dumplings at Café Katja: Quark might be the least appetizing-sounding dairy product, but this German farmer's cheese screams delicious. And made even more appetizing when bound like gnudi into small balls and served alongside Emmentaler sausage at this Lilliputian Lower East Side restaurant. 79 Orchard Street, 212-219-9545

3. Gyoza at Sapporo: Unlike other dumplings from Asia, gyoza reflect a nuanced simplicity that's emblematic of Japanese cuisine. The ones sold at this Midtown spot have bottoms fried to a crisp yet remain delicate and soft on top, plumped up with a light pork and veggie filling. 152 West 49th Street, 212-869-8972

2. Pelmeni at Mari Vanna: These traditional Russian veal dumplings come swaddled in a light butter sauce, flecked with a lashing of herbs. At $19, they might rank in as some of the most expensive dumplings in the city, but you're getting your money's worth here. 41 East 20th Street, 212-777-1955

 

Xiao Long Bao = Happiness
Xiao Long Bao = Happiness
Lauren Shockey

1. Pork Xiao Long Bao at Nan Xiang: Deciding what dumpling got top honors was tricky, but soup dumplings nabbed it because they never cease to amaze. Honestly, among life's greatest pleasures. Not much beats dotting the steaming bun with black vinegar, biting into the wrapper, carefully slurping out all the hot, porky juices, and finally savoring the meaty bite. Even when a soup dumpling is bad, it's still good. Not that these are ever bad. 38-12 Prince Street, Flushing, 718-321-3838


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