8 Must-Try Dumplings Across the Country

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A great dumpling's worth traveling for

In case you haven't noticed, we're pretty dumpling obsessed around these parts. It's why we've devoted an entire week to writing about different dumpling styles, developing great recipes, and hunting down the very best we can find. We asked our contributors around the country to tell us about their favorite dumplings in the cities they call home. From Korean gunmandu to traditional pierogi to pork wontons, here's what they had to say.

Austin: Mandoo at Korean Komfort

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[Photograph: Melanie Haupt]

Austin dumpling fans should seek out the mandoo from Korean Komfort, a food truck located near the University of Texas that specializes in newbie-friendly versions of classic Korean fare. Similar to potstickers, this contemporary interpretation of Korean-style mandu are filled with chopped pork, green onions, garlic, and ginger, which are then folded up and fried (the traditional name for fried mandu is gunmandu). The result is a crisp package filled with bright flavors that sing either on their own, or dipped in the accompanying chili-infused soy sauce. Five bucks will get you six dumplings, perfect for sharing as an appetizer or an afternoon snack. —Melanie Haupt

Baltimore: Gunmandu at Two Youngs

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[Photograph: Jess Mayhugh]

Located in a Catonsville strip mall on the southwest side of Baltimore is Hanoori Town, a cafeteria-style marketplace that offers traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean fare. All the way in the back is Two Youngs, complete will a man slapping and stretching noodles on the left, a full sushi bar on the right, and a colorful menu with nearly 50 dishes overhead. One of those dishes is gunmandu, or Korean fried dumplings. Served 10 at a time, the handmade dumplings are flash-fried so they're crispy on the outside and maintain a pocket of heat on the inside, which houses ground pork, cabbage, bean sprouts, ginger, and garlic. The dumplings are served with a spicy sauce of jalapeños, chilis, and soy for dipping, as well as slices of pickled yellow radish for cleansing the palate. While we found ourselves hard-pressed to finish Two Youngs' massive bibimbap bowl, it was all too easy to lick our dumpling plate clean. —Jess Mayhugh

Chicago: Mandu at Joong Boo Market

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[Photograph: Mike Gebert]

My favorite dumplings in Chicago are served at a small stand just outside a grocery store on the North side of the city. I admit, I'm biased—my family has shopped at Joong Boo Market since I was a kid, and my parents still make regular visits there, despite the arrival of huge supermarkets out in the suburbs. It used to be one of the few grocery stores that catered to Korean immigrants craving flavors from home; these days, it's bustling with folks from all walks of life. Don't be surprised to find people clogging up the cramped parking lot just to get Joong Boo's enormous $2 dumplings, served in a tiny stand just outside the entrance.

Most food geeks will say their favorite dumpling is the kimchi or pork dumpling, but mine is the sweet red bean paste-filled dumpling made with a spongy black rice-speckled dough. It's a classic Korean sweet snack that we hold dear to our hearts, richly starchy and sweet. You can't go wrong with any of them, but make sure you save room for at least a bite of the red bean, a true taste of my family's homeland. —Dennis Lee

New Orleans: Potstickers at Ba Chi Canteen

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[Photograph: Eric Leath]

The symmetrically pleated pork-filled potstickers at the Vietnamese fusion Ba Chi Canteen are a tender delight with crisp, golden bottoms and thin-skinned soft tops. They're placed over a sweet soy-based sauce with a bright char-grilled pork and beansprout, carrot, and red cabbage salad at the center. Welcome char from the pork pervades the sprouts underneath, and chilies at the bottom of the dish bring substantial heat. Crushed peanuts and julienned basil add to the many subtle flavors. Their delicate texture makes the dumplings the best part of the dish; the ability to combine them with so many segmented flavors makes each bite a unique must-try. —Eric Leath

New York: Lamb Dumplings at Tianjin Dumpling House

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The best dumplings in New York come from this stall square in the middle of the perpetually frantic Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing. Tianjin churns out around 10,000 boiled Northern-style dumplings a day in a dozen or so flavors, all with hand-rolled skins that are delicate and tender with just a bit of chew. I love the vegetarian egg, scallion, and glass noodle dumplings, but the must-eat filling by far is the lamb and green squash, as juicy as any soup dumpling but not at all greasy. The lamb's gaminess is tempered by garlic, ginger, and a little plain water infused with citrusy Sichuan peppercorns, and the filling is wonderfully complex yet subtle.

Dumplings here need no sauce, but if you absolutely must, skip the typical black vinegar and ask the staff to whip up some fresh garlic sauce, which brings a kick of pungent freshness to the fillings. A drizzle of chili oil won't hurt either. —Max Falkowitz

Philadelphia: Pierogi at Donna's Bar

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[Photograph: Drew Lazor]

The martini glass-adorned sign hanging outside Donna's promises "fine homemade Polish food," and once you try the pierogi you realize it's less a boast than a favor. The type of bar that still permits smoking and opens at 8 a.m. for early risers, Donna's, in Polish-heavy Port Richmond, keeps that fine food simple. Their tender, substantial pierogi are boiled, not pan-crisped, drizzled with melted butter and served with sides of sour cream and good-natured ribbing, if you're doing it right. Potato, kraut, and cheese are prime choices, but there's also a cheesesteak variety if you're feeling Philly prideful. —Drew Lazor

San Francisco: Pork Wontons at Z&Y Restaurant

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[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Truth be told, San Francisco is not the country's greatest dumpling town, but of all the dozens and dozens of dumplings and wontons we tasted, one stood out above the rest. The Sichuan wontons with spicy peanut sauce at Z&Y Restaurant in Chinatown is a big bowl of fiery, vinegary, chili oil and peanut-spiked, nose-dripping, sweat-inducing pleasure. You know that the wontons, with their slippery skins and sweet pork fillings are doing something right when your mouth keeps saying more, more more as you eat your way through the pain. —J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Seattle: Qingdao Dumplings at Ping's Dumpling House

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[Photograph: Naomi Bishop]

It used to be, you had to pay attention to get Ping's dumplings—attention to the middle-aged woman folding dumplings at a side counter in a mini-mart and to the faint writing on masking tape that labeled each bag in the freezer section. Now, with half of the market turned into a dining space with a table service and a menu, the most important thing to pay attention to is the specialty of the house: dumplings from Ping's home region in China, Qingdao. I usually go for the pork with Chinese chives or the lamb with green onions, but it's always worth asking if she has the mackerel-based fish dumplings on hand. All her boiled Northern-style dumplings have thick, doughy wrappers—these come from wheat country and are strong and warm enough to weather those winter blues...or whatever you need to get over today. —Naomi Tomky