Looking for the city’s best dumplings? Here’s our rundown of the best ones in New York, from Manhattan’sChinatown to Flushing’s Chinatown to Sunset Park’s Chinatown – and a few more in between for good measure. This is how you do dumplings in NYC.
A classic NYC establishment, you’re here for soup dumplings, known as xiao long bao. Waiters pretty much assume you want these when you sit down, so don’t be intimidated by the shared tabletops. Just nod with a smile and say “crab and pork please.”
We reviewed Noodle Village for one primary reason: to tell you about the best wonton soup you can get in downtown Manhattan. And wontons are certainly dumplings. But Noodle Village makes this list because they also happen to make some of the very best soup dumplings in Chinatown. The skins are much thinner and a little chewier than what you’ll find around the corner at Joe’s Shanghai - if you’re into the sound of that, these are the Chinatown xiao long bao you’ll want.
Compared to places like Joe’s Shanghai, The Bao’s soup dumplings are thinner, a bit lighter, and overall more delicate. These are the ballerinas of xiao long bao. They also come in quite a few varieties - while we tend to stick to the standard pork, there’s also a wasabi version we like quite a bit, and a “super spicy” version that might burn a hole in your stomach. The restaurant, located on St. Marks, is the kind of place that could work for a date, if you’re looking to test whether future spouses appreciate the value of an excellent soup dumpling.
A few years back, Mimi Cheng’s brought their Taiwanese-Chinese dumplings to the East Village, served in a space that looks like it could be on a Pinterest board. Their dumplings are filled with meat and produce of the sustainable, pasture-raised, antibiotic-free variety, so if that’s a priority for your dumpling eating and you’re willing to pay up for it, Mimi Cheng’s is for you. Be sure to douse your dumplings in their incredibly good sauce. They also do a monthly special - there was a burger dumpling and a brunch dumpling, for example, but we tend to stick to the regular offerings. There’s a newer location in Nolita as well.
Ever since Prosperity Dumpling closed, Tasty Dumpling on Mulberry Street has become our go-to for a classic styrofoam container full of fried pork dumplings. This is a bare bones spot, but there are some tables where you can look out and watch kids playing in the park across the street.
Everyone knows about Vanessa’s Dumplings - any NYU freshman or Danish tourist who’s picked up a Lonely Planet can tell you about getting fried dumplings at Vanessa’s. But the truth is that Vanessa’s actually isn’t that great. People who actually know what’s up - which now means you - should head to the basically unmarked spot just down the block, where you can get highly superior dumplings. They only come steamed, and in the pork and chive variety, so if you’re only about those fried veggie dumplings, you can go to Vanessa’s like the other chumps. These are some of the absolute best dumplings you can eat in Manhattan, and at $2 for 6 or $3 for 10, they’re also absurdly cheap.
Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen
Skip the ramen, head to KFLSBR for the steamed buns or soup dumplings. These are Midtown’s finest, and they’ll fix you up right for a weekday lunch.
This place is a potentially controversial inclusion because of the price and long waits you’ll face to get them. But if you don’t mind shelling out $12-14 on 4 dumplings, Red Farm has a stellar “dim sum” lineup that should not be overlooked. Be sure to get the four mushroom dumplings and the crab and pork soup variety. If you want some fun, have a Pac Man dumpling too.
Kings County Imperial has a wide-ranging menu that’s almost all excellent, but we’d also gladly eat just their dumplings for dinner. Specifically, their wok-seared long dumplings. These things are crispy on the outside, with thicker, chewy skins, and really flavorful, garlicky-porky filling. Plus, there’s just something especially satisfying about needing three bites to get through one dumpling (though we’d be happy to watch you try to put the whole thing in your mouth at once).
Tianjin Dumpling House
A small stall in the well-known Golden Shopping Mall in the heart of Flushing, this place has a crazy number of filling options, but if you only want one, go with the famous lamb and green squash variety. Boiled and juicy, they come $5 for 12, because, you know, $5 should get you more food than you can handle. One of Flushing’s crown jewels, these are an absolute must for any dumpling enthusiast.
You are getting wontons here, which is good, because these are the best ones you’ll find around town. Go with the wontons in chili oil. They aren’t so hot that anybody needs worry, and for those of you who want extra kick, just be upfront and ask the woman behind the counter to hit the heat heavy. She may or may not oblige, but at least you tried.
This place is a full-fledged restaurant, so feel free to order more than just the soup dumplings that they’re known for (scallion pancake with beef, if you’re undecided). Everything here is GOOD. Don’t be surprised by a modest line if you show up on the weekend.
Boiled, not fried, is the way to go out here. We like the ones stuffed with pork and leek, for a change of pace. One can only have so much chive, right?
This place is just outside the main part of Main Street in Flushing in a newer mall. It’s easily the fanciest of the Flushing bunch, and you can get creative with your options. Pork and chive, lamb and green squash are just the tip, with shrimp and cucumber, pork with corn, and even dessert dumplings like sweet pear. Expect lines. Do it anyway.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of places all across the city where one can go to have dim sum, but when straightforward dumpling inhalation is the goal, Dim Sum Go Go has become our first line of defense go-to. Why? Here, you can get a 10-piece sampler that acts like a dim sum greatest hits. There’s even a vegetarian version, and they’re open until 11. For convenient Chinatown dim sum with variety, get this on your list.
We don’t have a favorite way to dumpling out at Pacificana, Sunset Park Chinatown’s premier dim sum spot, so do whatever feels right. Boiled, fried, soup, it all works. Just make sure you eat a lot of things filled with shrimp. Pro tip: be sure to come early, because they will run out of the good stuff by 1 p.m., if not earlier.