Finding the Best Dumplings Near Me
If you ask Americans how they feel about Chinese food, most would say that they love it. From General Tso’s chicken to crispy fortune cookies, these dishes provide a fun option that helps break up a monotonous week of dinner.
Unfortunately, neither of the dishes listed above have origins rooted in China. General Tso’s Chicken can’t be found in any restaurant menu in China, and in fact, fortune cookies are Japanese.
While learning that may be heartbreaking, understand that Chinese food from the eight provinces of China have even deeper flavors and are significantly more delicious than any Westernized Chinese food you’ve experienced.
It’s not terribly difficult to visit your grocery store and purchase a package of frozen dumplings mass-produced in a factory and made with unhealthy ingredients and preservatives. However, Chinese Soup Dumplings from Shanghai, and especially ones that are hand-made and with only all-natural ingredients, can be hard to find. Instead of googling "best dumplings near me," keep reading to learn how to go about getting a taste of honestly represented Chinese cuisine here in the United States.
Understand the Different Types of Dumplings
While Westerners often lump dumplings into the same category, the truth is that there's quite a variety. The taste, texture, and consistency of different dumplings can vary immensely, so it's important to have a clear understanding of the different varieties.
Here are five of the most common types of dumplings you might want to try.
When most Westerners think of dumplings, they think of jiaozi. These are the crescent-shaped dumplings that northern Chinese people, in particular, can't get enough of.
Jiaozi generally features a wrapper made of wheat dough, while the inside can contain a number of different fillings. Pork, chicken, Chinese chives, and even shrimp are all common variations.
While the term 'jiaozi' refers to a subcategory of dumplings, different variations have different names. For example, Chinese people call pan-fried jiaozi 'guo tie (鍋貼),' while they call boiled jiaozi 'shui jiao (水饺).'
Xiao Long Bao
Xiao long bao is another popular variety. Originating from Shanghai and the nearby city of Wuxi, people often refer to xiao long bao as soup dumplings since the inside contains a savory delicious liquid that accompanies the meat filling.
However, the inside isn't soup. It's actually liquified pork trimmings. If that sounds unappealing, don't worry—biting into a xiao long bao is like biting into a soft cloud with a warm broth inside. You can experience this yourself with frozen dumplings from the XCJ made only a day or two before they’re delivered directly to your home, so you're always getting a fresh product.
Compared with jiaozi, xiao long baos tend to have thicker dumpling wrappers to help contain their delicious fillings.
Sheng Jian Bao
These are similar to xiao long bao. Both varieties end with a "bao," which means that sheng jian bao is also going to be shaped like circles as opposed to crescents.
Sheng jian baos are thicker than xiao long bao, and wrapped in a fluffy bun. Instead of being steamed, sheng jian baos are pan-fried and are defined by their signature crispy brown bottoms. Like xiao long baos, the inside contains a liquified broth, and they often contain fillings like ground pork or beef.
As a garnish, Chinese chefs often sprinkle scallions and toasted sesame on top.
While people refer to xiao long bao as soup dumplings, wontons can be thought of as dumplings in a bowl of soup.
Wonton wrappers tend to be thinner and use an egg-based dough. They contain just a scoop of filling placed in the very center, and are also notoriously hard to grab with a pair of chopsticks while they float around in a bowl of soup.
As with most types of Chinese food, wonton preparation techniques depend on the region.
Do Your Research
If you're hungry after reading about those dumpling varieties, you're not alone. To ensure that the hunger pangs go away, your next step is to find the right restaurant where you can try Chinese dumplings just like the ones they serve in Shanghai.
Most of the time, this won't be a big chain restaurant—instead, look for small, Chinese-owned establishments. You can check apps like Yelp for recommendations or ask a Chinese friend.
If you're in Seattle, you might want to check out Xiao Chi Jie.
Go the DIY Route
If you're ready to dip your toes into the world of Asian cooking, you can always try to make your own dumplings at home.
Most grocery stores with an international section can provide you with the ingredients you need to make dumplings. There are also hybrid varieties that make use of American ingredients and tools that you can try out.
Xiao long bao might be a bit tricky for some people to make, especially compared to jiaozi, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. If you’re feeling intimidated, luckily, we've got the perfect guide to help you out.
Buy Frozen Dumplings
If you want to enjoy dumplings but don't want to eat out or make them from scratch, there are some frozen options, but you might want to look a little further than your grocery store. Many of the frozen dumplings that you can find in the frozen aisle come from factories focused on mass-production and use unhealthy ingredients and added preservatives. We recommend you take advantage of a service like Xiao Chi Jie that can ship you fresh dumplings right to your door! This lets you enjoy expertly-crafted , hand-made Shanghai soup dumplings whenever you want, without having to waste a lot of time making them.
Finding the "Best Dumplings Near Me" Doesn't Have to Be a Challenge
Although lots of Chinese-American food may not be authentic to the eight regional cuisines of China, that doesn't mean that you can't find the real deal. Use this guide to help you find the "best dumplings near me"—whether you end up making, buying, or reheating them.
How does eating xiao long bao at home sound? How about some hot and delicious sheng jiao bao? For all of that and more, Xiao Chi Jie has got your back.
If you're in the Seattle area, contact or visit us today for our unmatched high-quality and delicious Chinese dumplings. Or, regardless of where you are, check out our frozen dumplings on the Online XCJ Shop, that we deliver fresh to your home!