Food & Drink

The ultimate guide to international dumplings in NYC

Published On 06/22/2014 Published On 06/22/2014

Blowing your mind harder than the time you found out Uncle Phil was the voice of cartoon Shredder (seriously, WTF), this guide'll school you on the fact that the Chinese aren't the only ones who make awesome dumplings. And to prove it, we're breaking down 10 doughy bundles from 10 different cuisines (so, pierogi, pelmeni, potstickers, etc.), and then offering up the best NYC option for each.

Chinese/Shanghainese: Xiao Long Bao

Shanghai Café (address and info)
Little Italy
Eating a soup dumpling takes skill: you don’t want to tear it and splatter its rich and salty broth everywhere, but you also don’t want to burn the roof of your mouth. Luckily, this Chinatown institution has perfected its dumplings, so that the dough is thick enough to safely make the journey from chopstick to mouth. As for the burning-your-mouth thing? You're on your own.


Chinese/Cantonese/Fusion: Potstickers

Talde (address and info)
Park Slope
There’s a reason why Chef Dale Talde’s pretzel potstickers are magic: he combines two things we love -- pretzels and pork -- to create an appetizer that’s both new and quirky, and a delicious throwback to those greasy taste-bombs we’ve grown accustomed to.

Flickr/Alexander Baxevanis

Polish: Pierogi

Lomzynianka (address and info)
Greenpoint has no shortage of places doling out pierogi (a Polish delicacy that can come either boiled or fried), but we like Lomyznianka for its selection, which includes a potato & cheese, a pork, a sauerkraut & mushroom, or farmer cheese. Each plate comes with onions and a dish of sour cream for dunking... like all foods should.

Jennifer Nalewicki

Russian: Pelmeni and Varenyky

Café Glechik (address and info)
Brighton Beach
Russia’s got two types of top-notch dumplings in its cuisine tool-belt, and this place does ‘em both right. The first, pelmeni, is made with a thin dough and traditionally stuffed with meat, such as pork and beef. The second, varenyky (which some say is actually Ukranian but was usurped by the Russians), can come either on the sweeter side with things like sour cherries, or savory with mozzarella and dill.

Jennifer Nalewicki

Georgian: Khinkali

Brick Oven Bread (address and info)
Brighton Beach
Hand-stuffed with uncooked & spiced meat, khinkali (a staple in Tbilisi) are a lot like soup dumplings, in that once they're cooked, the juices from the meat form a thick broth on the inside (so there’s some technique involved when eating). Unlike with soup dumplings, though, you won’t have to contend with chopsticks. Bonus!

Jennifer Nalewick

Germain/Austrian: Spätzle

Café Katja (address and info)
Lower East Side
Largely regarded as a side dish, spätzle generally finds itself playing second German food fiddle. But that's not the case at this German/Austrian café. Instead, chefs toss these pint-sized, chewy dough balls with creamy Gruyère cheese, sugar snap peas, corn, and mushrooms.

Jennifer Nalewicki

Jewish: Kreplach

Sarge’s Deli (address and info)
Midtown East
Mile-high sandwiches are a must-get at this 24/7 Jewish deli, but the kreplach should be on your radar as well. It come two ways -- fried with onions, or in a soup. The latter is reminiscent of a bowl of homemade matzo ball soup, but richer thanks to the chewy, brisket-stuffed kreplach bobbing in the salty, carrot-and-pasta-filled broth. Warning: you’ll need a fork, knife, and spoon to tackle this one.

Jennifer Nalewicki

Indian: Samosa

The MasalaWala (address and info)
Lower East Side
The deep-fried, Mumbai samosas here come stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas, and'll remind you of all those South Asian food stands you're always eating at when you go to South... Asia.


Nepalese: Momo

Tawa Tandoor (address and info)
Jackson Heights
In Nepal, momos -- pastry shells stuffed with either meat or vegetables -- are a popular fast-food (think hamburgers in America, but kinda healthier). At this authentic Indian restaurant in Queens, each momo gets steamed and served with a side of chutney hot sauce.

Flickr/Enrico Matteucci

Italian: Gnocchi

Ristorante Il Melograno (address and info)
Hell's Kitchen
Finding an Italian restaurant in NYC is like trying to find hay in a haystack. And while it's not hard to find gnocchi, there’s one place doing it better than everyone else a few blocks over from Port Authority (don’t be scared off). The gnocchi funghi e tartufo is handmade and stuffed with wild mushrooms, fava beans, and ugh, black truffles.

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Jennifer Nalewicki is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer who has been published in The New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, Esquire, and more. Follow her on Twitter.

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1. Shanghai Café 100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013 (Little Italy)

At the cusp of Chinatown and Little Italy, this longstanding staple shines with perfect soup dumplings. Not too heavy, not too soupy, the handcrafted dumplings are made with dough that's thick enough to safely make the journey from chopstick to mouth without sagging or leaking. Shanghai Café also has a solid selection of reliable plates like scallion pancakes and spring rolls, and everything is more-than-reasonably priced.

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2. Cafe Katja 79 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Austrian-fare punctures the menu at this cafe. Speck, blood sausage and beef cheeks as well as liver dishes like a liverwurst with red-onion jam, are mainstays while freshly baked, soft pretzels come with a side of sweet Liptauer seasoned with onions, chives, paprika, and caraway seeds. The beer selection includes quite a bit of Austrian-imported brews as well.

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3. Talde 369 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Talde showcases eponymous owner and chef Dale Talde's (of Top Chef fame) BBQ prowess in dishes like BBQ platters piled with brisket, pork shoulder, smoked bacon, shrimp, and black pepper-butter toast. Desserts swing weirdly awesome, from potato chip-crusted cookies with caramel ganache to a shaved ice sundae topped with Cap'n Crunch.

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4. Lomzynianka 646 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Although Greenpoint is well-known for its fine array of Polish restos, Lomzynianka stands out with its outstanding takes on traditional foods pierogies, borscht, and cabbage dishes.

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5. Brick Oven Bread 230 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY 11223

This Gravesend resto dishes out delicious Georgian cuisine. And if you've never had Georgian (the country, not the state) try out their khinkali, which are dumplings hand-stuffed with spiced meat that forms a broth on the inside.

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6. The MasalaWala 179 Essex St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Think hip and fresh Indian food that mixes tradition with modern technology -- that's MasalaWala. The must-try item on the menu? The deep-fried Mumbai samosas that are stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas.

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7. Tawa Tandoor 37-56 74th St, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (Queens)

This Jackson Heights Indian spot may have only six seats, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with big flavor derived from a rich combination of spices and cooking techniques.

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8. Il Melograno 501 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019 (Hells Kitchen)

Authentic, straightforward, and reasonably priced Italian food is waiting for you deep in Hell’s Kitchen. All the good stuff (olive oil, mozzarella, wine) is imported from Italy, and the bread and pasta are made in-house. The menu is split between pasta dishes like veal ravioli and sausage pappardelle and meaty mains like chicken Milanese and rib-eye steak with cherry tomatoes. Il Melograno isn’t in the Theater District per se, but it’s close enough to go before a show.

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9. Cafe Glechik 3159 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235

This Brighton Beach Ukranian joint serves up some well-made Russian and Ukranian dumplings (stuffed with everything from pork and beef, to sour cherries, to mozzarella and dill) alongside hearty classics like beef stroganoff.

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10. Sarge's Deli 548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016 (Midtown East)

In Midtown East stands Sarge's Deli -- the ultimate spot (or rather, institution) to get a serious deli sandwich, or a number of traditional dishes from the "hot" bar.



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