We like to snack on the new-wave pretzel dumplings at Brooklyn's Talde and down clouds of foie gras soup dumplings at West Village gem Annisa. But, for this story, we decided to focus on the classics.
In no particular order, here are our 10 favorites:
Shanghai Cafe Deluxe in Chinatown
This Mott Street stronghold makes excellent xiao long bao, or Shanghai-style soup dumplings. The pork version ($4.95 for 8) is steamed to order until the thick, wonton-like skins almost collapse onto the hot, gingery pork broth sealed inside. To eat: Nibble one edge so the sweet-salty juices run into your soup spoon, slurp and then dunk what's left into the vinegar at the table. Devour. Repeat.
Han Dynasty in the East Village
The slippery steamed wontons ($6.95 for 8) at this Sichuan standby double as an excellent vehicle for the restaurant's habit-forming housemade chile oil. The juicy pork filling has a hint of sweetness, which offsets the hurts-so-good burn of the fiery oil.
Ganso Ramen in Downtown Brooklyn
Tadashi Ono is in the house at the newly revamped ramen shop, and his hane gyoza ($8 for 6) almost steal the show. To make them, he pours a little water-flour slurry and roasted sesame oil around the edges of the delicious pork and chive potstickers as they cook, creating a crisp and delicately flavored lace.
Xi'an Famous Foods in Chinatown
Finally, some veggie dumplings you can get behind. The satisfyingly spicy and sour spinach dumplings ($6.50 for 8) are as bright green as they are gigantic, jammed with chopped leaves and bolstered with chewy strings of mung bean vermicelli. Xi'an has a knack for heat: A wonderfully spicy chile oil and sprinkling of extra chopped red chiles make the vegetables sing.
Despite their name, the "fried tiny pork dumplings" ($5.25 for 8) aren't for the peckish — they're soup dumplings on steroids. The fluffy bao are stuffed with pork and a rich, silky soup, their bottoms pan-fried to a golden crisp. A sprinkle of sesame seeds and scallions adds fresh crunch.
Tianjin Dumpling House in Flushing
This tiny jewel, hidden in the subterranean Golden Mall, turns out mind-bogglingly juicy lamb and squash dumplings in chewy steamed wrappers ($5 for 12). They pack enough savory, meaty flavor to down plain, but the stall's grainy house-made chile oil is a fine addition.
Pacificana in Sunset Park
Get here early to beat the weekend crowd. Once you do, keep your eyes peeled for a cart of har gow, or shrimp dumplings ($3.50 for 4), a specialty at this Brooklyn dim sum spot. They're thin-skinned and filled with impossibly pillowy shrimp meat that has a perfectly sweet, clean flavor.
Related: Brooklyn Is Where The BBQ Is
Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle & Dumpling in Chinatown
Ignore the flashy freshly pulled noodles and go for the cheap fried dumplings ($3 for 11). Wrapped in a thin, noodle-like skin and stuffed with a mixture of beef, cabbage and scallions, they sometimes arrive soaking in a pool of their own sweet-salty sauce — and they're even better with a squirt of that raw garlic-infused soy sauce on the counter.
White Bear in Flushing
Arguably some of the most famous dumplings in Flushing, these floppy-skinned wontons ($5 for 12) are stuffed with pork and Chinese greens, then adorned with scallions, tangy preserved vegetables and a smoky chile oil that brings more flavor than heat to the dish. One bite, and you'll see what all the fuss is about.
Nom Wah in Chinatown
Wilson Tang's classic take on shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings ($4.50 for 4) may not be the cheapest in town, but it's certainly one of the best. Expert line cooks use the sides of their cleavers to press out the thick dumpling skins, pile on the filling — you won't find such generous pieces of sweet shrimp at other dim sum joints — and steam these babies to order.
Next: This Is How You Eat Korean BBQ
Tasting Table is a website and newsletter for culinary enthusiasts. The editors eat high and low to bring you the discerning dining advice, recipes you can trust and news you can use from the world of food and drink. They're an opinionated gang of always-curious, anchovy-loving, order-one-of-everything-for-the-table epicurean obsessives. Pull up a seat.