Dumplings may be the perfect food, bite-sized and infinitely adaptable, and the fact that nearly every culture has its own take on the snack seems to back this up. Helen You, owner and chef of Dumpling Galaxy (42-35 Main Street, Queens, 212-518-3265), hails from Tianjin, a region of northern China famed for its contributions to the dumpling pantheon. She previously ran Tianjin Dumpling House, a celebrated stall in the basement food court of Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall, and recently launched her new spot, which features 100 dumpling variations with a head-spinning array of fillings that come in delicate steamed or shatteringly crispy fried encasings.
Dumpling Galaxy is housed in the brand-new Arcadia Mall, and the restaurant is lined with private booths, each of which has its own TV streaming enticing color photos of the wares. The massive menu divides the options by ingredients and cooking style, and it’s best to select dumplings from a wide cross-section. Everything is a safe bet — on a recent morning visit, we watched staff schlep loads of fresh vegetables into the kitchen; the quality of the ingredients shines in each selection.
The skin of the steamed dumplings is a little thicker than that of a wonton, but still tender, and fillings like lamb and green squash have a delicious, cumin-accented Northern Chinese flair. The egg in the pork, egg, and chive was perfectly scrambled, and the spicy beef had a juicy, welcome intensity. A scallop and chive dumpling featured bright, clean flavors, and the pork soup dumpling was spot on with its scorching, savory broth. Fried dumplings are served embedded in a golden, crackly crust that’s fun to break off and dip into the soy and vinegar sauces. There are non-dumpling options, too, and the odds are good that dishes like sweet and sour crispy fish are fantastic, but the sheer range of dumplings, both innovative and classic, is enough to keep diners occupied for many visits.