Around the world in 11 amazing dumplings

IIn one form or another, you can find the lovely chunks known as dumplings in countries and cultures around the world. The first dumplings as we know them may have been jiaozi, which originated in China during the Han dynasty between 206 BC. and 220 AD. Some say that ancient Rome had dumpling recipes, even though these versions were not wrapped in dough. Other scientists believe in dumplings originated in the Middle East and spread from there.

No matter where they come from, most dumplings are influenced by many cuisines. In Los Angeles, we have a wealth of dumplings to choose from, including these 11 delicious examples.

INTL DUMPLINGS Xiao lange bao Din Tai Fung

Xiao long bao aka XLB aka soup balls from Din Tai Fung.

(With permission from Din Tai Fung)

Xiao Long Bao

With Chinese cuisine, it is almost impossible to choose a single dumpling, but we go with xiao long bao aka XLB aka soup dumplings. They typically contain a ball of minced pork, ginger and green onions that swim in a pork gelatin that melts and turns into broth when cooked. They originate from Shanghai and have become popular all over the globe, thanks in part to the Taiwanese chain From Tai Fung. The Juggernaut, which now has five locations in LA and Orange counties, is still one of the best places in Southern California to try xiao long bao. Their version of the dumpling is known to have the thinnest and most delicate wrapping.

  • Westfield Santa Anita: 400 S. Baldwin Ave., # M5 (Level 2), Arcadia. 626-446-8588.
  • South Coast Plaza: 3333 Bristol St., Space 2071 Costa Mesa. 714-549-3388.
  • Americana on Brand: 177 Caruso Ave., Glendale. 818-551-5161.
  • WestfieldCentury City: 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., # 2400, Century City. 424-382-1118.
  • Del Amo Fashion Center: 21540 Hawthorne Blvd., # 519 Torrance. 310-214-1175.
INTL DUMPLING Khinkali House

Khinkali (dumplings) from Khinkali House in Glendale.

(Fiona Chandra for LAist)

Khinkali

These Georgian dumplings are one of the country’s most popular foods and probably originate from the mountainous areas north of the capital Tbilisi. The steamed version at Khinkali house are large with a soft, paste-like skin. Choose from fillings such as spicy meat, mushrooms or cheese. To eat a khinkali properly, hold it where the folds meet (you are not supposed to eat this part, but it provides a good handle) and bite into the lower part.

  • Khinkali House: 113 Artsakh Ave., Glendale. 818-649-1015.
INTL DUMPLING Monta Factory

Manti (dumplings) from Monta Factory.

(Fiona Chandra for LAist)

Manti

A small dumpling that is common in Central Asia and the Middle East, manti is prepared in different ways, depending on the country. Mount factory focuses on Armenian baked manti or sini manti (also called sini monta), which is boat-shaped with the minced meat filling exposed at the top. They are baked until the skin is slightly crispy and served with a light tomato sauce and garlic yogurt.

  • Monta Factory: 1208 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale. 818-396-4445.
INTL DUMPLINGS Buuz Arag Mongolian cuisine

Buuz (dumplings) from Arag Mongolian Cuisine in Westlake / MacArthur Park.

(Fiona Chandra for LAist)

Buuz

Buuz are Mongolian steamed dumplings stuffed with minced mutton or beef, onions, garlic and herbs. The name suggests that they came to Mongolia via the Chinese baozi. You can find them at Arag Mongolian cuisine, where the large dumplings are stuffed with beef and served with a side of vinegar cabbage slaw. They hold a lot of broth, so be careful when biting into them.

  • Arag Mongolian Cuisine: 3012 Wilshire Blvd., Westlake / MacArthur Park. 213-378-0075.
INTL DUMPLINGS Pierogi Solidaritet

Pierogi (dumplings) from Solidarity in Santa Monica.

(Fiona Chandra for LAist)

Dumplings

The origins of the pierogi are still debated, but we know that they appeared in Poland around the 13th century. One legend involves Saint Hyacinth, who allegedly fed hungry people with pirogis during a famine caused by Tatar raids. Unlike the meat-heavy dumplings in other countries, pierogi can be stuffed with mashed potatoes, cheese or cabbage, though you can also find versions stuffed with minced meat. Also known as vareniki, they can be boiled or fried and typically served with onions or sour cream. Try them all by getting the pirogy sampler at the Santa Monica Polish restaurant Solidarity.

  • Solidarity, 1414 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica. 310-393-8831.
INTL DUMPLINGS Banh Bot Loc 5 Stars Hue

Dumplings from 5 Stars Hue in the Alhambra.

(Fiona Chandra for LAist)

Bread flour

These Vietnamese tapioca dumplings, which are said to originate from the imperial capital of Hue, are stuffed with shrimp and pork and then steamed in banana leaves. The name bánh bột lọc means “clear milk cake” because the tapioca dough becomes translucent when the dumplings are cooked through. Find them at Vietnamese restaurants around town that specialize in Hue cuisine, such as 5 Stars Hue.

  • 5 Stars Hue: Several locations including 31 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. 626-872-0095.
INTL DUMPLINGS Kreplach Factors Famous Deli

Kreplach from Factor’s Famous Deli by Pico Robertson.

(Fiona Chandra for LAist)

Kreplach

The origin of these Ashkenazi Jewish dumplings is uncertain, but they were probably influenced by ravioli in Italy. Served in a broth similar to that of matzo ball soup, kreplach is harder to prepare and therefore less common. On Factors Famous Deli, you can have them stuffed with chicken and served in chicken broth along with shredded chicken and carrots.

  • Factor’s Famous Deli: 9420 W. Pico Blvd., Pico Robertson. 310-278-9175.
INTL DUMPLINGS mandu Chang Hwa Dang

Pan-fried mandu (dumplings) from Chang Hwa Dang in Koreatown.

(Courtesy of Chang Hwa Dang)

Mandu

In Korean, mandu means “dumplings”, and the world encompasses so many different types, including cooked mullet mandu and pan-fried gun mandu, that it is almost unfair to treat them as a single category. But we love Korean dumplings so much that we could not resist. Food scientists believe that mandus, most likely the steamed kind, were introduced to Korea by the Mongols during the Goryeo dynasty in the 14th century. On Chang Hwa Dang, you can get several kinds of mandu, from pan-fried kimchi mandu to pork mandu soup. The pan-fried mandus are crispy and perfect, but we also love the comforting mandus soup.

  • Chang Hwa Dang LA: 3377 Wilshire Blvd., # 104, Koreatown. 213-334-4333.

Gyoza

Japanese gyoza comes from Chinese dumplings called jiaozi. Legend has it that Japanese soldiers brought word of this dumpling to their countrymen after being stationed in China during World War II. Gyoza, which is typically stuffed with pork, cabbage, ginger and garlic, is usually fried on the pan. In Southern California, there is no shortage of gyoza. You can find them at pretty much every ramen joint and in the frozen food section of most grocery stores. On Otomisan, the last remaining Japanese restaurant in Boyle Heights, the gyoza is light and fried to perfection.

  • Otomisan: 2506 1/2 E. 1st St., Little Tokyo. 323-526-1150.

Pelmeni

Pelmeni is considered to be Russia’s national law. The name means “ear bread” in the dialect language, which refers to the way in which dumplings are folded. Pelmenis were traditionally frozen outdoors in Siberia and carried by hunters as provisions. These days, they are often made using a mixture of different meats, such as the traditional Slavic mixture of veal and pork, which is available on Kalinka in Glendale. These dumplings are boiled and served with a blob of sour cream.

  • Kalinka: 1714 Victory Blvd., Glendale. 747-240-6868.
INTL DUMPLINGS Yak Momos Tibet Nepal House

Yak momos (dumplings) from Tibet Nepal House in Pasadena.

(Fiona Chandra for LAist)

Momo

Momo is possibly the most famous dish from the Himalayas. Common belief says they are from Tibet. Depending on the region, these dumplings are stuffed with meat or vegetables and then steamed and served with tomato chives (a type of chutney). In Nepal, where they are traditionally eaten by the Newari people of Kathmandu, momos are stuffed with yak meat. You can find this version at Pasadena Tibet Nepal House, where the yakmomos are wrapped in squares and served with a light, homemade atchaar.

  • Tibet Nepal House: 36 E Holly St., # 3905, Pasadena. 626-585-0955.

Do you have an idea for a food story you would like to see on LAist?

Send it to us. We may not respond to all inquiries we receive, but we will try to help. We would love to hear from you.

Leave a Comment