Dumpling Specialist is a small dumpling shop run by daughter and father owners, Rebecca and Paul Yu, who were also behind the beloved Dumpling Kitchen. They closed the original and changed locations in 2019, but at Dumpling Specialist they still serve the same great potstickers, pork buns, soup dumplings, wonton in chili oil, and Mr. Yu’s handmade noodles, which go into soups with additions like Chinese five-spice beef. There are a few tables at this cash-only Sunset spot on Taraval, but there’s no shame if you want to have private time at home with their dumplings like the rest of us.
Sweet & Sour Fish Filets
Sweet and sour dishes that lean on thickened pineapple and soy glazes may not be as popular in San Francisco as they were in the ’80s and ’90s. However, Dumpling Specialist offers a rendition with battered and fried white fish that’s well worth investigating. The menu wants your attention to be on the dumplings, but you’ll crave the crunchiness of the onions and peppers and the sauce that’s neither too sweet nor too sour once you taste it.
Pork/Cabbage Wonton Soup
Don’t overlook the simple and perfect pork/cabbage wonton soup. There are no gimmicks here, only supple dumplings in silky wrappers in a clear and clean broth. We actually like it more than the not super soup-filled Shanghai dumplings.
These may be some of the smallest pork potstickers in the area, but there’s plenty of meaty flavor hiding inside the inch-long parcels. The bottoms on these one-bite beauties are crucially crispy, too.
Pan-Fried Pork Buns
The juiciest dumplings at the Specialist are these pan-fried pork buns, which share the pot sticker’s minced pork filling but are stuffed into a thicker and more delectable package. You might realistically need a couple orders.
Wonton in Chili Oil
Pork wontons swim in a fairly mild chili oil-based sauce that offers some comfortable background heat. Topped with scallions, sesame seeds, and peanuts, no extra sauce is required.
Savory Soy Milk
Don’t overlook one of the stars of the Dumpling Specialist menu. Warm soy milk with pleasing curdling chili oil, a scattering of scallions, pickled greens, and a bottom treasure: a sweet pork layer that tastes like a cross between floss and pulled pork and is more like soup than a hot beverage. It comes with a side of small pieces of fried dough (you tiao) that you can float in the soy milk.
Seafood Stir-Fried Rice Cakes
If you’re looking for a lighter but still satisfying alternative to the fried rice or chow mein, go for any of the four dishes with stir-fried rice cakes. We regularly crave the stir-fried seafood option, with fish, squid, shrimp, scallop, cabbage, purple onion, and carrot.
5 Spice Beef Noodle Soup
The name Dumpling Specialist once again distracts from other great specialties of the house, like the medium-thick hand-pulled wheat noodles that are offered in a number of dishes. We like them in this light and fragrant broth, which also comes with generous portions of bite-sized five-spice beef.