Of course, if you’re going to do a dumpling crawl on foot, you’re starting in Chinatown. As fans of the day crawl, three friends and I dove into this adventure armed with nothing but a hearty appetite and a few restaurant suggestions I’d solicited from Twitter (still accepting your best recs, y'all).
The first thing I learned -- and it sounds obvious! -- was that if you’re going on this dumpling crawl, show up hungry. Ideally, your stomach should be gurgling, and you should be slightly irritable from low blood sugar. Bring approximately three comrades with you (even numbers make for easier seating arrangements, and too few means you'll fill up too quickly), preferably ones of the meat-eating kind. Most of the dumplings were stuffed with pork, chicken, and/or seafood, so if you’re on a limited diet, it’ll be a frustrating experience. And resist the urge to finish everything you order unless you have a second or third stomach. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The more you pace yourself, the happier you’ll be at the finish line.
We took turns picking up the tab, making the overall process run smoother. Most places cost less than $20 for a few orders of dumplings. We paid in cash to keep the crawl moving, and half these places don't accept cards anyway. It also helps to know which dumplings you plan to order beforehand to reduce any of the guesswork involved -- you're in for a long afternoon if you deliberate with the jury over what to order at every stop. Because I'm incredibly kind, I'm telling you what to try.
One huge warning: servers didn’t hide the fact that they disapproved of our light ordering. I explained we were only interested in having a snack and over-tipped at each stop for taking up a table during their lunch rush. Plan your stops accordingly.
If you follow these tips, you should be as golden as a fresh pork bun.