If I could only eat one Chinese dish for the rest of my life, it would be steamed pork dumplings. No contest. Love it. I’ve been on an informal, quiet quest to find the best pork dumplings in New York City. I don’t think Sean even knows about my quest. He knows I loved steamed dumplings, but he prefers his dumplings pan-fried or as “potstickers” so my penchant is not top of mind for him. He happily sits back when I order steamed dumplings and doesn’t reach in to grab any off the plate (a rare thing since we mostly like the same things). Now let’s be clear, I will eat any kind of steamed dumpling and find some enjoyment in it whether it’s terrible, mediocre, or fantastic, but I am always dutifully observing which ones I like best and where I find them. Part of my quest is for that ideal ratio of dough : salty pork : grassy leek bundle dipped in just enough dumpling sauce spiked with hot chilli sauce — especially when the dumpling is juicy, but not as drippingly juicy as a soup dumpling (Xiaolongbao mantou), which is a whole other post for another day. So far, the best I’ve found is at Excellent Dumpling House at the corner of Canal and Lafayette in Chinatown.
The service at Excellent Dumpling House is welcoming and friendly, but at the same time, their clear goal is to get you seated, served, and out of there as soon as possible. The food arrives before I’m able to perch my purse on the chair next to me. The ‘guest check’ comes as I’m still eating. My empty dishes are cleared off the table while they’re still warm and before I have a chance to ask for more Oolong tea. For 7 luscious steamed pork dumplings + one large dish of cold sesame noodles that could feed 4 people, the total bill is just over $10. Gotta love that. How can I not leave a generous tip?
Now if you have any suggestions for what you consider the best pork dumplings in Manhattan, please let me know! Just post a comment below, and believe me, I will check out whatever you suggest!