I recently came across a fascinating map on a website called Taste Atlas that illustrates the dumplings of the world. It includes a few types I wasn’t familiar with, like the French-Canadian dessert called grandpères, dumplings that are boiled in maple syrup and water, as well as the Jamaican fried cornmeal dumplings called festivals. And it inexplicably locates chicken and dumplings, a Southern specialty, somewhere in eastern Texas. Still, the diversity of dumplings depicted on the map got me thinking about where to find the best versions from around the world in our city. Here are 20 places for Seattle dumplings that will transport you to Asia, Eastern Europe, and even the Middle East.
When the Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung opened in Bellevue in 2010, crowds lined up for hours to sample its xiao long bao, soup dumplings made with steamed pork. And the international chain is still popular a decade later, now having expanded to downtown Seattle, University Village, and Tukwila. But many Seattle diners prefer its competitor Dough Zone, which has seven locations in Seattle and the Eastside. When the International District branch opened in 2017, Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement wrote that her dumplings were “significantly hotter, juicier, and more tender” than the ones she’d had recently at Din Tai Fung. I’ve enjoyed plates of soup dumplings at both chains, and I don’t think you can go wrong with either.
I haven’t had a chance to try the xiao long bao at Xiao Chi Jie in Bellevue (which can also be ordered frozen), but I’m even more intrigued by their sheng jian bao, pan-fried versions of the pork dumplings that add a crispy textural contrast to the juicy soup inside.
You’ll also find great versions of both pan-fried buns and steamed, boiled, or pan-fried potstickers at Little Ting’s Dumplings, with locations in both Greenwood and Bellevue. For a dollar you can add an egg to either dish if you want to make them “amazing,” though I think they’re pretty flavorful even without it. My favorite dumplings here are the pork and fennel potstickers.
Another type of dumpling you’ll readily find all over the city are the doughy buns known as bao. My favorite spot for these is Mount&Bao in Lake City, where your bao can be either steamed or pan-fried, and filled with beef, pork, or vegetables. The restaurant also serves an outstanding version of the folded dumplings called jiaozi, which contain similar combinations of ingredients (my go-to order is the pork-and-chive). Oddly, there’s a surcharge if you want your dumplings pan-fried or steamed, instead of boiled, but you can buy a frozen bag to take home and cook them the way you like.
A relatively new option for Seattle dumplings is Dumpling the Noodle in Wallingford, which opened in early 2020. The appealing menu includes pan-fried dumplings with pork, chives, and shrimp, or beef and bell peppers, as well as buns filled with pork and onions, and spicy wontons with pork and shrimp. There are also vegan options here, including dumplings with tofu, carrots, and Napa cabbage, and buns with shiitake and bok choy.
For a modern take on Szechuan-style dumplings, I’d recommend Tyger Tyger in Queen Anne. The flavorful pork dumplings are seasoned with black vinegar and spicy chili oil, and the honey walnut prawn buns nestle fried shrimp, candied walnuts, and pickled fresno chilies inside a pillowy crescent of dough.
I’ve also enjoyed the Sichuan pork dumplings at Plenty of Clouds in Capitol Hill. Beer-lovers and Ballard residents should take note that the restaurant also operates a food truck in the parking lot of Cloudburst Brewery on Shilshole.
I haven’t had a ton of great dim sum experiences in Seattle, but I’m eager to try Harbor City in the International District, which claims to be the city’s best spot for it. Among other dishes here, I’d like to sample har gow, which are round, translucent shrimp dumplings, and shu mai, a smaller steamed dumpling with pork and shrimp (as well as other flavor combinations).
And a final spot on my Chinese dumplings to-do list is Dumplings of Fury in West Seattle. There, you can order jiaozi with beef and ginger, and spicy shrimp and pork wontons – as well as steamed or pan-fried mandu, Korean dumplings that are made with pork, tofu, and kimchee.
Dumplings from elsewhere in Asia
Most dishes at Revel in Fremont have a Korean flavor profile, but the two types of dumplings it currently offers cross cultural boundaries. Mapo pork wontons are a riff on the spicy Szechuan dish called mapo tofu, while the crispy lumpia, made with pork and collard greens, are a version of the Filipino specialty. (The short rib dumplings I’ve enjoyed there over the years are no longer on the menu.)
Despite the high concentration of Japanese restaurants in Seattle, I haven’t encountered too many places that offer the traditional dumplings called gyoza. You’re more likely to find these at ramen restaurants than at sushi joints, though. One spot that’s highly regarded for its gyoza is Ramen Danbo in Capitol Hill, which also has locations in New York City and Vancouver. You can order the pan-fried dumplings as a side dish to your ramen, or as part of a lunch special with a vegetable “ramen topping” side dish or a soft drink, tea, or beer.
Another great choice for Asian dumplings, Kathmandu MomoCha, is a food truck that you can often find near breweries in Ballard like Fair Isle and Stoup. Momocha are wrappers made from ingredients like beetroot and saffron that are filled with ground chicken, pork, or beef, green onion, and Himalayan spices. And one more option for momo in Seattle is Annapurna Café in Capitol Hill. The Tibetan style chicken and spinach versions here are both served with peanut, sesame, and tomato chutneys.
Dumplings from Eastern Europe and Turkey
I can’t claim to have extensive experience with Seattle dumplings that don’t come from Asia, but there are a handful of Eastern European places that I’m eager to explore. These include:
- The Georgian restaurant called Skalka downtown, where I’ve tried two versions of the dumplings called khinkali, one with mushrooms and one with cheese. They also make a beef-and-pork variety that I’d go back for, but none of the khinkali appear on their current online menu.
- Korocha Tavern in Wallingford, which opened its new location in 2020 after a stint in Lake City. I’d like to try the Russian dumplings known as pelmeni, filled with pork and beef, as well as the vareniki, with potato, dill, and cheese.
- You’ll find similar flavors of frozen dumplings at Dacha Diner in Capitol Hill, as well as a version that’s filled with semisweet cheese and served with a side of cherry compote.
- For pierogis, I have my eye on Sebi’s Bistro in Eastlake. Their Polish dumplings are filled with meat or vegetables, topped with bacon or onions, and served with a side of sour cream.
- I’m also curious to try the pierogi that are available for both dine-in and to-go meals at the Polish Home Association in Capitol Hill. On Friday nights you can order from a wide menu of Polish specialties, including beet soup served with dumplings, and both savory and sweet pierogis.
Finally, one of my favorite discoveries from a trip to Turkey a few years back was the dumplings called manti. In the town of Kayseri, brides would traditionally make manti for their future mother-in-law, and the smaller the dumplings were, the more skilled she was believed to be in the kitchen. 40 tiny dumplings were supposed to fit on a single spoon!
There are only a few Turkish restaurants in Seattle that serve manti. One place I’d like to try them is Café Turko in Fremont, where the dumplings are stuffed with spiced beef and topped with melted butter, tomato, and a garlicky yogurt sauce.
Where are your favorite spots in Seattle for dumplings from around the world? Leave a comment and let me know!
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What I Ate: Pork dumplings in black vinegar chili oil from Tyger Tyger