China: we spend too much time worrying about its ascendancy as a global superpower and not nearly enough time eating its delicious dumplings. Fix that by devouring DC’s best Bao Bao-endorsed (we assume) dumplings.
The Newseum, Pennsylvania Ave
For the best dumplings in DC go straight to The Source, where two-inch thick bao buns cradle sticky fried lobster. Pick up these girthy bundles of tastiness from Scott Drewno, and you can snag them along with four other dishes for just $32 at their Saturday Dim Sum Brunch, which might make Bao Bao reconsider that bamboo diet.
Try and work your way through the whole menu -- griddled, steamed, fried, and baked -- but make sure you don't miss their fresh take on xiao long bao (those delicious bursting soup dumplings). Please resist regaling your dining companions with Thailand ping pong stories. If you don’t follow, it's for the best.
Yes, it smells a little like wet dreadlocks thanks to too many disparate proteins being cooked under one roof for decades. However, the shrimp dumpling soup is so comforting it'll make you forget about any unpleasantness, olfactory related or otherwise. That is, until you run out of dumplings.
We’re not dumpling discriminators -- Japanese gyoza deserve some love, too. Every proper noodle shop in town offers gyoza to tide ravenous ramen eaters over until their bowl arrives. Toki Underground just happens to do them the best. Their pouches are packed with meat and a pleasantly surprising amount of heat before getting pan-fried. Choose from beef, pork, chicken, veggie, or seafood. Pro tip: get there early to beat the line and eat ALL the dumplings.
You’ll find Peter, one of DC’s hardest working bao builders, dishing out freshly filled buns from a cart outside of the Discovery Channel building. The Shanghai native says his duck, pork, and edamame puree baos are packed with "super food" health benefits. Which is all well and good, but you'll be more interested in the sticky onion marmalade they're topped with. Bonus: they cater.
We’re giving them the official tagline "Your Mid-Atlantic XLB Headquarters" because they crush it at the aforementioned tricky delicacy. Use a pointy chopstick to pop it open, releasing soup onto your spoon for slurping before daintily (or not daintily) eating the dumpling whole. Don't bother asking who Bob is. Some things are best left mysterious.
Adams Morgan/Mt. Vernon Square
The only thing that tastes better than a Mandu dumpling is a Mandu dumpling during happy hour. So get a set of cylindrical Korean dumplings for $4 every day from 4-7pm and take your time soaking up the dipping sauce.
Come check me out from 10am-430pm, but expect lines longer than at Toki Underground. I’m worth it.
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1. The Source575 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington
2. Ping Pong Dim Sum900 7th NW, Washington
3. Full Kee Restaurant509 H St NW, Washington
4. Toki Underground1234 H Street NE, Washington
5. Bob's Shanghai 66305 N Washington St, Rockville
6. Mandu453 K Street, NW, Washington
7. People's Bao8520 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring
The name Wolfgang Puck attached to this Penn Quarter restaurant should tell you two things right off the bat -- this place isn't messing around with its culinary technique, and dinner here isn't going for cheap. The sleek dining area, brightened by cheerful yellow accents and floor-to-ceiling windows, is always full of people (many of whom are tourists, given the location) vying for a taste of Asian-inspired cuisine like chili oil-poached Nordic Cod or soy-marinated lamb chops. On the other side of the restaurant, the bar and lounge are a little bit calmer and offer a slew of classic and specialty cocktails along with, of course, an impressive wine list.
Pong covers 7000sqft of dark wood tables, low-hanging lamps, and lattice-work accented bars, and is serving up delicious dim sum alongisde Eastern-inspired cocktails.
Found in Chinatown, Full Kee Restaurant is the place to go for authentic Cantonese cooking, delicious noodles, and perfectly prepared pork, chicken, and duck. They're open late too (2am!), so you can fix yourself up after a boozy night out with a comforting shrimp dumpling soup.
One of the first authentic ramen joints in DC, Toki Underground serves comforting noodle dishes inspired by Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s culinary memories -- whether it’s the Taipei ramen shop he worked at or the family-made dumplings he ate growing up. Made with that much TLC, the dishes here are well worth the occasionally long lunchtime wait. You’ll want to dig into the Toki Classic, a steaming bowl of ramen topped with pulled pork and a soft-boiled egg, and sip -- or bomb -- one of the specialty sakes.
While dumplings and trays of dim sum are typically served glittering with hot grease and MSG, the plates at Bob's Shanghai 66, are tasty, inexpensive, and if you can believe it -- healthy. Prepared in a white-tiled open kitchen (implying the chefs don't have any oil-saturated secrets), you can watch the skilled cooks hand-stretch the dough for soup dumplings and the spot's famous pan-fried pork buns. The menu -- two full pages crammed with endless oddly-titled entrees -- is certainly intimidating, but with a variety of plates teeming with buttery pork belly, shredded snow-peas, chili-glazed shrimp, and not an ounce of excess oil, it's hard to go wrong (unless you decide against ordering the soup dumplings).
This is the larger, Downtown location of Dupont's Korean diner -- rocking decorative wooden ducks and bamboo flooring that creeps up to the ceiling, the spot's serving latenight eats like Korean Tacos.
This delicious oasis of bao feeds weary travelers from 11am-130pm outside of the Discovery Communications building on Georgia Ave (between Ellsworth Ave and Colesville Rd). Duck, pork, and edamame puree fill the center of fluffy, perfect Asian buns -- make sure you get some of bao master Peter's onion marmalade too!