For my dumpling search, I pretty much hung out in three specific neighborhoods: Sunset Park, Brooklyn; Flushing, Queens; and Chinatown in Manhattan. They all have a large Chinese population so much so that sometimes you forget you’re not in an Asian country. There were a handful of other neighborhoods that had dumpling houses, but these three were the heavyweights.
When it came to jiaozi, they were all similar. $1 or $1.25 bought you between 4 or 5 fried dumplings and a few cents more would win you double the amount of steamed dumplings. The atmosphere and service were practically identical from dumpling house to dumpling house, but some stood out based on slight variations.
Best North Dumpling House in Flushing had uniquely fresh fillings with surprising flavors like fennel and dill. The texture of the skins at Prosperity Dumpling was exceptional with the fried ones being incredible crunchy minus the grease and the boiled options being soft and tender. The homemade soy-based dumpling sauce at Excellent Dumpling House was just as excellent as their healthier tasting dumplings. And Vanessa’s Dumplings makes intensely flavored pork dumplings throughout the day to ensure a well-rounded freshness.
As for xiao long bao (soup dumplings), I found three really good versions across the city. The most famous, of course, being Joe’s Shanghai which is worth combating the crowds for a truly unique New York experience. However, the crab and pork dumplings are just as good at the close-by Shanghai Cafe Deluxe and the waits are usually much shorter. But even better are the deliciously rich, thick-skinned versions at Nan Xiang in Flushing.
In fact, it turns out that the best Chinese food and dumpling experiences I’ve had in the city have been in the Chinatown known as Flushing. It’s just a train ride away on the 7 train and is worth a stop for anybody who loves this food. Both Nan Xiang and Best North Dumpling House are worth a stop, but the best dumplings I experienced on my entire search were at the little hole in the wall on Prince Street called White Bear.
The dumplings here are absolute perfection with a moist and complex cabbage and pork filling complementing the soft and tender wrappers. And these little guys were so good they almost didn’t need a dip in the soy vinegar sauce. You can also order the wontons doused with a special hot sauce, along with minced chives and dumplings.
I’ve just about eaten at every dumpling destination in the city (especially in these specific neighborhoods), but there are a few left to hit so keep your eyes peeled for reviews. And if you really want to experience the most authentic and delicious Chinese food and dumplings in the city, I’d make friends with your Metro Card and take the 7 train to the end to explore Flushing.
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