Try as I might, I still haven’t managed to snag a seat at the hottest new dumpling restaurant in NYC, Tim Ho Wan. I will keep at it however because this Michelin-starred restaurant from Hong Kong is getting rave reviews from those lucky enough to make it inside. It’s in soft-opening mode until January 18 – hopefully after that, my persistence will pay off.
Being stymied in my efforts to get into Tim Ho Wan, left me curious as to why dumpling style foods and restaurants have become so incredibly popular.
Here are 5 reasons:
1. It’s the ultimate comfort food
2. They’re ubiquitous! No matter the culture or nationality, you will find a version of the dumpling
3. Dumplings are shareable and affordable.
4. Tremendous variety – both in the fillings and how they are prepared/served e.g. steamed, fried, in soups
5. Younger chefs are putting exciting new spins on authentic old school recipes from their childhoods, often an ethnic mashup of some kind.
Read on below for a sampling of dumplings from around the world.
Chinese wontons and dumplings
Japanese gyoza – usually pan-fried, as opposed to steamed
Korean potstickers e.g. pork and kimchi
Polish pierogis (Chicago actually has a Pierogi map on Eater so check it out if you’re headed there.)
Italian for ravioli, tortellini, malfatti (apparently the malfatti at Napa’s Val’s Liquor is beyond!! I’ve never been but it sounds amazing)
German semmelknoedel – one of my favorites – especially when my mom made these dense, savory bread dumplings seasoned with onion, parsley, and nutmeg. It’s a classic recipe from Bavaria.
Russian/Siberian pelmeni (check them out at Portland Oregon’s Kachka)
Georgian khinkali are pyramid-shaped, fist-sized dumplings full of minced meat, spices and above all, the spice that distinguishes Georgian cuisine and features in so many of its specialties: cumin.
Empanadas from Latin America
Jewish kreplach – wonton-like dumplings traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah before the Yom Kippur fast, or filled with dairy and eaten on purim (but in the kosher tradition, never made with meat and dairy in the same meal).
Levantine kibbeh – found throughout the Middle East. Full of minced onions and ground meat – flavored with allspice, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon, then fried.