So we were in Manhattan for a few days after a wedding and decided to do some serious dumpling tasting. We decided we would try any place with Dumpling in the name, and would always try the fried or seared pork dumplings. Several chowhounds had mentioned some Chinatown places in recent posts, but we didnt have addresses, so if we missed your favorite spot, our apologies.
We scored each dumpling using scales of 1 to 4 for filling and wrapper. Alas, we only came across 4 places during our wanderings. Here are the results in no particular order (actually its the order of sampling). Hope this generates some discussion and a list of places to try on our next visit.
Sun Dou Dumpling. N side of Grand, near Mott. 3 large dumplings for $1. Take out only.
Yvonne: Filling 2 1/2, wrapper 2. Sogginess ruined the dumplings for me.
David: Filling 4, wrapper 2. The dumplings had been simmering in a steam tray for while, making them a bit soggy, but also created a nice broth that soaked into the dumplings. The filling was the most flavorful of all, with lots of chives.
Fried Dumpling. Mosco, between Mulberry and Mott. 5 medium sized dumplings for $1. Take out only. The name says it all. Just a couple of tables, no décor, no menus, and a couple of cooks making massive quantities of dumplings. Looks like their main business is supplying local restaurants.
Yvonne: Filling 3, wrapper 4. Yum. Perfect wrappers and probably the best deal at 5/$1.
David: Filling 3, wrapper 4. The filling was just a little above average, but the wrapper was perfect, just the right thickness and crisp in all the right places.
Rickshaw Dumpling Bar. 23rd Street, across from the Home Depot. 6 medium dumplings for $4.95. Looks like a fast food chain, but it has dumpling in the name, so we had to try it.
Yvonne: Filling 2 1/2, wrapper 2 1/2. I expected more from freshly seared dumplings the skin was not very crisp, and it was rather pricey.
David: Filling 2, wrapper 3. Not bad, but nothing special. Could hardly taste the scallions, and the sauce was too salty.
Dumpling Man. 100 St. Marks Place. 6 for $4.25.
Yvonne: Filling 3, wrapper 3 1/2. Pretty good overall.
David: Filling 3, wrapper 4. Excellent wrapper, very crisp and not at all greasy. A couple of people in earlier posts noted an off taste. I agree the taste was different from the other dumplings, but I suspect that its just the taste of inexpensive pork without nitrates. Dumpling Mans pork was brown all the way through, while the other shops pork had that telltale pinkness in the middle.
We also tried the veggie dumplings and shrimp dumplings which were kind of gross. The veggie was ok, though the green wrapper was not very appealing, and the filling was mostly just mushrooms and tofu; the shrimp dumpling had large pieces of corn in it, which both of us disliked. Also the shrimp wrapper was way too thick.
David: As much as I was prepared to dislike Dumpling Man for its overtly cute and commercial look, I think their pork dumpling was the best overall, but just barely. I'd sooner go for Sun Dou, soggy wrapper and all.
Yvonne: I would go back to Fried Dumpling for the Chinatown dumpling experience.