Vanessa’s Dumpling House
A Chinatown authority, this place has dumplings that are flash-fried in extremely hot oil with a high skin-to-filling ratio. While the inner edge of the wrapper proved too sticky and the chive too overpowering, these dumplings are the crispiest of the bunch. They pair well with the shop’s legendary sesame pancakes (ask for yours to be filled with duck and vegetables).
Vanessa’s Dumpling House, 118A Eldridge St, New York, NY, USA, +1 (212) 625 8008
Jin Mei Dumplings
The dumplings churned out by this hole-in-the-wall, so inconspicuous one might walk right on top of it, are as dense and heady as they come. The skin, almost gummy, albeit extremely flavorful and comforting, eclipsed a meager portion of filling. Though proportions were off and the filling itself hard to get to through the wrapper, Jin Mei’s pork filling stands out. Just the right balance of game and fat without an overload of MSG, it complements the grassy chive. The real standout here, though, proved to be the scallion pancake – a pillowy triangle of dough of your most delicious dreams.
In a neighborhood of translations as literal as they come, Fried Dumpling is as to-the-book as you’ll find. Crispy, crackly exteriors, slightly dense underbellies, and juicy fillings are the only thing on the menu other than dou jiangi, or soy milk, the quintessential Chinese beverage. Generously sized wrappers encase a small meat portion, but these dumplings fall on the blander side of the spectrum. The affectionate, charming ladies at the wok and the enticing spattering of dumpling hitting oil, are reasons alone to visit this inconspicuous shop.
Fried Dumpling, 106 Mosco St., New York, NY, USA, +1 (212) 693-1060
The skins on these (remarkably tasty) dumplings were unsettlingly un-crispy; a shallower fry at a lower temperature gives their exterior a chewier, denser bite, without being overly sticky. Texture-wise, Tasty Dumplings are the most balanced of any on this list, and the same can be said for flavor. A nuanced pairing of pork and chive means the meatiness of the filling offsets its pepperiness without being a sodium or grease overdose. These are a favorite among local dumpling-goers and tourists alike.
Tasty Dumpling, 42 Mulberry St., New York, NY, USA, +1 (212) 349-0070
Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles
This classic Chinatown haunt steams and fries pork-and-chive dumplings as scrumptious as their hand-pulled noodles. The best of both worlds, Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle dumplings balance a translucent, significantly less doughy skin than the others on this list, and they’re given a flash-fry immediately after boiling. The result is a mix of silky, crunchy, and addictive, all wrapped in one beautiful parcel. The platter of 10 for $3 makes these dumplings one of the most cost-effective in all of Chinatown. This is especially true when paired with their equally enticing, very elastic noodles (try classic beef or the more adventurous pork-filled fish ball).
Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle, 144 East Broadway, New York, NY, USA, +1 (212) 566-6933
This Chinatown institution lingers on the mind, tongue, and stomach long after one (painstakingly) extracts oneself from the tiny shop that bursts at the seams holding five people, at most. The filling is deliciously porky and lip-smackingly juicy and the skin crispy enough to pass as tempura before melding seamlessly with a denser, chewier interior. The entire explosive morsel is the best dumpling in Chinatown. Pair an already uncannily harmonious dumpling with Prosperity’s house dumpling sauce (and drizzle over some sriracha too, which never hurt anyone). Then, you’ll have yourself four of the most memorably delicious bites this side of the Pacific.
Prosperity Dumpling, 46 Eldridge St., New York, NY, USA, +1 (212) 343-0683