Some people would argue that noodles are the ultimate Asian comfort food, but my money is on dumplings. Whether the savory little pouches evoke memories of after-school snacks at street stalls, late nights out with friends or folding dough around the kitchen table ahead of a big family dinner, dumplings warm both the stomach and the heart. The classic rounded-shaped dumpling can be fried, boiled or steamed, and we won’t judge if you prefer a crispy wonton or ruffly shumai instead. Whatever you pick, there is a dumpling shop to make your day.
Din Tai Fung needs no introduction. In fact, the global Taiwanese chain was the introduction for many Americans to Chinese comfort food in the first place. Justifiably famous for its pork xiao long bao soup dumplings, Din Tai Fung also makes wontons and steamed dumplings, including one vegetarian and one fish option. You used to have to wait in long lines for a table at the University Village location in Seattle. Now you can make reservations at any of four local shops; the other three are in Bellevue, Tukwila and Seattle’s Pacific Place.
A much smaller chain restaurant than Din Tai Fung, but more prevalent locally, Bellevue-based Dough Zone will soon have 10 locations around Puget Sound. Loyal fans proudly argue that its xiao long bao are superior to those at Din Tai Fung. The dumpling house also makes boiled, steamed and pan-fried dumplings — the last two with a vegetarian option.
23830 State Route 99, Edmonds
17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park
The authentic, handmade Northeast Chinese–style dumplings at family-owned Dumpling Generation in Edmonds were recently lauded in The Seattle Times. The restaurant also has a location in Lake Forest Park. Despite its doughy specialty, the family prides itself on healthfulness, specializing in steamed dumplings instead of fried, using better meats and no added MSG. There are two vegetarian dumpling options, and lots of vegetarian choices on the entrée menu.
1723 N. 45th St., Seattle
Now operating in a bigger space in Wallingford that includes family seating, Dumpling the Noodle began its life as a takeout-only venue during the early days of the pandemic. Wherever you eat them, the menu of pan-fried dumplings and hand-pulled noodles is supplemented with seasonal specials that keep you coming back to try new things. While the beef bulgogi dumpling is a favorite, nearly half the menu is vegan, making Dumpling the Noodle a rare Chinese dining experience in which vegetarians can try as many dishes as their carnivorous friends.
683 156th Ave., Bellevue
14411 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle
There are two Little Ting’s Dumplings — one in Bellevue and one right on the border of Seattle and Shoreline. The original Seattle location sells xiao long bao soup dumplings; pan-fried, steamed and boiled dumplings; and pot stickers, alongside lots of buns and noodles. Although pork is the favored filling, there are three savory vegetarian dumpling options. The Bellevue menu is a little smaller, but it includes clay pots and some harder-to-find meat dishes, in addition to dumplings.
508 S. King St., Seattle
Located right under the Historic Chinatown Gate, Ping’s Dumpling House makes Northern Chinese–style steamed dumplings, pot stickers and soup dumplings with vinegar-based dipping sauces. Ping’s dumplings have light, chewy wrappers that don’t fall apart and finely minced fillings. Its vegetarian options extend well beyond the standard carrot and cabbage filling, including a flavorful “Full Veggies” pot sticker and a dessert bun with red bean and chocolate filling.
1916 Pike Place, Seattle
Replacing Country Dough in Pike Place Market last year, Seattle Dumpling Co. is the dumpling-centered offshoot of Lake City’s Mount&Bao (which has a very broad Chinese menu). Among other comfort food menu items such as buns and noodles, Seattle Dumpling Co. offers a soup dumpling, a chili wonton and a selection of boiled dumplings (one vegetarian variety).
14603 N.E. 20th St., Bellevue
It’s no wonder that the wait is long for a table at Bellevue’s Supreme Dumplings. Despite its strip mall location, the interior is stylish, and everything on the tightly edited menu is delicious. The xiao long bao soup dumplings are some of the best in the region, and the restaurant’s only vegetarian dumpling, although (alas) not a soup dumpling, packs enough to flavor to earn its place at a table of carnivores.
Making dumplings at home
Many people would argue that the best way to eat dumplings is at home, after sitting around the table filling and sealing them amidst family conversation. If the only thing keeping you from homemade dumplings is knowing how to make them, take a class. FrogLegs occasionally offers a Din Tai Fun kids’ class that includes dumplings; sometimes other kids’ cooking programs teach dumpling making, too. For the following courses, check with the instructor for minimum age requirements, or take the class yourself and then practice your new skills at home while you teach the rest of the family.
Bellevue-based Whisk frequently offers dumpling classes. For $100 per person, Cooking Dolls will come to your home and teach you how to make dumplings in your own kitchen. Chef Fumiko in the Central District teaches pot sticker workshops, which you can book through Cozymeal. Chef John teaches a dumpling class through CocuSocial. Dash of Soy Culinary School offers a workshop on vegan dumplings in person and pork dumplings online. The Pantry occasionally offers homestyle Chinese dumpling classes — keep an eye on the schedule, as the classes sell out quickly. Local cookbook author Hsiao-Ching Chou teaches hands-on Chinese soul food classes and offers dumpling how-to videos on her website.
If you want dumplings but don’t feel like going out or cooking from scratch, many of the restaurants in this article sell their dumplings frozen and in bulk. Bellevue’s Xiao Chi Jie sells soup dumplings (and a few other goodies) in frozen batches of 50 for pickup or mail-order delivery. Devoted fans can’t get enough of the pan-fired Shanghai-style xiao long bao. The pork, pork and shrimp, or chicken are all great options, but alas, the business is too authentic to offer vegetarian choices. For something a little different, try frozen Himalayan Momo dumplings from the grocery store. These Chinese-style dumplings from Nepalese restaurateur Vivek Kunwar have a South Asian twist with fillings such as paneer and curried vegetables.