Gyoza at Showa
The Gyoza ($7.00 for 6) at Showa izakaya are filled with pork, chopped bay shrimp, garlic chives, lots of garlic, and salted cabbage. The salting eliminates the water content, resulting in a nicely crisped wrapper and making these the most delicate and delicious gyoza in the area. Plus, a little extra batter adds wings to these two-bite dumplings. (Note they’re available Tuesdays only in limited numbers, selling out quickly.)
Beef Bing at Henry's Taiwan Plus
When I’m really craving a serious dumpling, I go to Henry’s Taiwan Plus in Seattle’s International District. The Beef Bing ($4.95 for 2) are the size of a hockey puck, and an exquisitely juicy affair reminiscent of xiao long bao. They’ve a bit unwieldy even for a savvy chopstick user, so keep a spoon handy to catch the juice that jumps out when you take your first bite. You can try dipping the dumpling in a little soy sauce (maybe with a touch of black vinegar), or, even better, ask for Henry’s special chili sauce.
Short Rib Dumplings at Revel
The popular pan-Asian (and indeed global) restaurant Revel always has a few dumplings on its bold, ever-changing menu. Recent versions included shrimp and bacon (with pickled ginger and cilantro) and chickpea with roasted cauliflower (and mustard yogurt), but I recommend the regularly offered Short Rib Dumplings ($9 for 5) with shallot and scallion. The short rib is meaty and hearty, and while your server will make pairing suggestions, you can dip your dumplings into any of the four sauces in the terrific condiment tray.
Gunmandu at Ka Won
Also available steamed (Jjinmandu), I recommend ordering Gunmandu ($9.99 for 8) for fantastic fried Korean dumplings at Ka Won, north of Seattle in Lynnwood. Filled with beef and zucchini (and a little cabbage), these wonton-like dumplings are incredibly crunchy and delicious dipped in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar, with slices and jalapeno and raw onion. Plus, as at most Korean restaurants, you get your fill of banchan with the meal.
Ka Won: 15004 Highway 99, Lynnwood, WA 98087 (map); 425-787-6484
Potstickers at Szechuan Noodle Bowl
Many stop by the brightly lit Szechuan Noodle Bowl in Seattle’s International District for big bowls of soup. For me, though, the best pick are the Potstickers ($6.75 for 8). They’ve got the basic filling of ground pork, napa cabbage, ginger, and garlic, but they’re long in length (three-biters) and perfectly pan-fried.
Szechuan Noodle Bowl: 420 8th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104 (map); 206-623-4198
Siomay at Indo Café
For an Indonesian twist on Chinese shumai, I recommend the Siomay ($5.95 for 5) at Indo Café. These dumplings are made with tilapia and fried chicken, packed tight like a fish ball, then steamed and finished by pan-frying. Slathered with peanut sauce and a topping of ground peanuts, they’re slightly sticky and sweet, and satisfyingly filling. Get the green onion pancake if you want more fried goodness.
Fried Dumplings at Sichuanese Cuisine
Sichuanese Cuisine in Seattle’s Little Saigon is a true hole-in-the-wall, with the Fried Dumplings (20 for $4.95) one of the most popular orders. You can also get them steamed, but frying crisps the dough around the filling of pork and just a little cabbage. A feast for a five-spot, they’re small but plentiful, perfect for popping into your mouth after dipping in soy sauce, chili paste, and garlic.
Emperor's Choice Dumplings at Pandasia
While most of the food is forgettable at Pandasia, the Emperor’s Choice Dumplings ($7.95 for 6) have enormous potential. Enormous is a key word, as these rustic dumplings with thick wrappers are rather massive in size. Inside, along with minced pork, you’ll find Chinese lap cheong sausage—adding its sweetness—along with cabbage, water chestnuts, black mushrooms, shallot, garlic, cilantro, and scallions.
And, If You're Curious, My Gold Standard
If you'll permit me to show off my real favorites, some of the best pan-fried dumplings in Seattle are the gyoza my partner Akiko makes right in our own kitchen. She tops the dumpling wrappers with the standard ground pork, napa cabbage, ginger, and garlic filling, crimps them expertly, and then pan-fries/steams/pan-fries them with an extra pour of batter to create crunchy wings with every bite. We dip them in some vinegar-laced soy sauce, sometimes spiked with a little rayu (chili oil).