Dumplings are an ubiquitous dish and can be found in many cultures around the world. The Polish have pierogies, the Koreans have mandu, the Japanese have gyoza, and the list goes on. But without a doubt, the Chinese are the champions of dumplings.
We've rounded up ten different renditions of Chinese dumplings and the best places to get them in Los Angeles:
Shuijiao @ Luscious Dumplings
Shuijiao is the Chinese word for boiled dumplings, and Luscious is the city specialist. It's so popular that a line forms outside its doors an hour after they open and stays there until they close at 8 p.m. These are also easy to make at home too. The dough ratio is simple: use one cup water to one cup flour. 704 W Las Tunas Dr #4, San Gabriel, CA 91776 or 919 West Duarte Rd., Monrovia, CA 91007.
Manti @ Silk Road Garden
Manti is a dumpling that hails from the Xinjiang, an autonomous region located in Western China. They're stuffed with mutton and are spiced with cumin seeds, coriander, carrots, and onions. Silk Road Garden, a Xinjiang-specialist, has these in abundance; it's one of their most popular dishes. It's known as lamb dumpling on their menu. 18920 Gale Ave, Rowland Heights, CA 91748.
Hargow @ Lunasia
This is the dish dim sum chefs are judged on; traditionally, a har gow is supposed to have ten or more pleats. A har gow has a translucent wrapper made with wheat and tapioca and is stuffed with shrimp. Lunasia's version is massive and manages to tuck in at least three pieces of shrimp. On menus, the English name for this is crystal shrimp dumpling. Hargow is the Cantonese pronunciation and in Mandarin, it's pronounced xiajiao. 500 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801.
Xiaolongbao @ Din Tai Fung
These tiny pockets of soup are Los Angeles' most treasured dumplings. Din Tai Fung, with a location in Arcadia and Glendale, is a worldwide chain from Taiwan that has developed quite a cult following. Xiaolong means small steaming basket and bao means bun. Prepare to wait to get a hold of these soup dumplings. We recommend the pork and crab version; it's the most traditional of the bunch. 1088 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007.
Tangbao @ Wang Xing Ji
Wang Xing Ji, also known as Juicy Dumpling, is the only place in Los Angeles to get your hands on massive soup dumplings the size of a fist. A straw is provided to suck the soup out. Be sure to dress it with ginger, vinegar, and soy sauce. This type of tangbao originates from the Jiangsu region of China. It contains a soup filling made with pork gelatin and minced pieces of crab. 140 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776.
Cantonese Wonton @ Sam Woo
Wontons, known as huntun in Mandarin, have many different variations depending on the region. The wonton wrapper is a little different from shuijiao wrappers in that it includes eggs and is folded differently. The skin is thinner than regular potstickers or boiled dumplings. Sam Woo has one of the best wonton noodle soups in Los Angeles. The wonton is stuffed with pork and shrimp, and it's served with egg noodles from Hong Kong and an intricate broth that takes days to make. 514 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803.
Chili Wonton @ Chengdu Taste
Chengdu Taste is undoubtedly Los Angeles' best Chinese restaurant right now. Chef Tony Xu is dedicated to bringing to life traditional Chinese recipes, and insists that his chefs read up on the history of Sichuan cuisine.The wontons are remarkably delicate, stuffed with ground pork, and are served over a bed of light chili oil and topped with a generous heaping of scallions. Yes, it's really spicy. 828 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803.
Tangyuan @ Emperor Noodle
Tangyuan are dessert dumplings wrapped in a glutinous rice skin and traditionally stuffed with red bean, black sesame, or grounded peanuts. Emperor Noodle injects their tangyuan with black sesame and serves it in a sweet rice broth topped with dried osmanthus flour and goji berries. 800 W Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91775.
Shumai @ Elite
Shumai, or shaomai in Mandarin, is a dim sum staple. It's a cylindrical dumpling stuffed with pork, mushroom, and shrimp enveloped in a thin wrapping. Elite's version is generously topped with a gigantic scallop. 700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754.
Guotie @ Peking Tavern
Peking Tavern in downtown Los Angeles serves up quite a repertoire of different dumplings. For the meat-averse, vegetarian dumplings are readily available and gluten-free ones too, if you're avoiding wheat. The beef potstickers, or guotie, are the highlight of the tavern's dumpling repertoire and the best option if you need to something to pair with the beer. They're lightly pan-fried to a nice crisp. 806 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014.