by Steven Doyle
There is never a bad time to enjoy a dumplings. The very amazing fact about dumplings is that they have this long and illustrious history and cross over many cultures. Look to the Polish for their beautiful piroshky, the Italians and their own ravioli, and our absolut favorite: the xiao long bao, or soup dumpling. For soup dumpling fans there is an even better version called sheng jian bao which is the same except it has a fried posterior.
Chinese cooks have enjoyed a version known as iiaozi for more than 1,800 years. According to legend, Chinese stuffed dumplings were invented during the Han Dynasty by a man named Zhang Zhongjian. The event occurred when Zhang returned to his ancestral village during the winter, after a long absence. He noticed that many of his fellow citizens were suffering from frostbite, particularly around their ears. As a way to solve this problem, Zhang cooked up a batch of mutton, chili and healing herbs and wrapped them in scraps of dough. He folded the dumplings to look like little ears, boiled them and handed them out to his afflicted neighbors.
Fact is regardless of who you are, or where you have been, dumplings play out a large part of who we are. Today we are simply hungry for great dumplings and these are in our thoughts so we wish to share the dumplings we want right now in Dallas.
Khao Noodle Shop: Named one of the very best new restaurants in the nation by Food and Wine, Khao makes these marvelous chewy dumplings called Sakoo, which are made without the use of a meat filling but instead filled with cilantro, pickled radish, peanuts and more. Then the dumpling is dusted with the slightest amount of fried garlic and chile flakes.
Gui in Uptown Dallas serves both Korean and Japanese cuisine. Look for fun dumplings alongside wonderful sushi and Korean beef. We also enjoy the dub-bap, Korean-style bowls of rice with a variety of toppings. Gui is a refreshing change of pace from the usual on McKinney Avenue.
Shanghai is an old school Chinese restaurant that is hidden in the strip center at Preston and LBJ, and shares digs with the likes of India Palace if that gives you any directional feel. The restaurant serves up dishes as you might find them in the 1960’s and 70’s, so this can be a super enjoyable transport in time and palate. Look for their soup dumplings to be very special, but order them immediately as they take time and are hand made to order.
Royal China is the oldest serving Chinese restaurant in the Dallas area and has been open since 1974. Look for hand-pulled noodles and delicious dumplings of all varieties including this sampler of pork, beef, shrimp and veggies. Their soup dumpling has been named by us as the very best Dallas has to offer. We challenge anyone to make a greater xiao long bao. Seriously, please.
Super H Mart has this loverly food court with a host of offerings including a dumpling bar owned by chef Hsu. There ou will find all sorts of fun dumplings that will aid you in your Asian shopping effort, including these kimchee filled babies.
Jeng Chi is another Chinese wonder and located in Richardson’s Little China District. Just the thought of that makes us hungry and gleam with foodie sensibilities. Bless Jeng Chi for the amazing dumplings they offer including their “juicy dumplings” (soup dumplings to you and me) and these shrimp and pork steamed lovelies. Hungry yet?
Bangkok City in East Dallas offers these perfect and pretty Thai dumplings. Order them twice, you will never regret having too many dumplings.
The Russian Banya in Carrollton offers several dumplings including Pelmeni, interpreted as ear bread. These are filled with beef and served deliciously with sour cream.
First Chinese BBQ offers the very best wonton soup in the Dallas area. Add roasted duck and it is actually even better. There are several location in the DFW but we appreciate the service and quality best at the Richardson store.
Finally, we leave you with a different perspective on the dumpling. This is Rapscallion’s “chicken and dumplings” which are actually their house-made ricotta cavatelli with rotisserie chicken, spring veggies, pistou and crispy chicken skin to boot.
Imoto: Fairly new on the scene, this is the Rathbun family chichi and fun entry into the Victory area of downtown, moments from American Airlines Center and all the fun that the entertainment district supplies. The lobster shooters are a small chunk of lobster given the tempura treatment and dropped into a cup of kaffir red curry. This is the most fun you will have with your mouth at a restaurant.
Monkey King Noodle Company: Definitely the king of Deep Ellum Asian dining and these handmade soup dumplings are thoroughly juicy with an amazing bite.