3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.
Dumplings are like little parcels of flavor. What’s sealed within their wrappers represents an endless array of possible fillings. Sure, there are classics like shrimp and chive or pork, but a few restaurants are maximizing dumplings’ delicious potential with ultracreative mash-ups.
Brunch Dumpling at Mimi Cheng’s, New York City
Perfectly pleated Taiwanese-style dumplings are the specialty at this sunny East Village gem. Each handmade dumpling flavor features droolworthy fillings, but it’s the “dumpling of the month” that elicits the most fervor. Co-owners and sisters Hannah and Marian Cheng find inspiration in their own cravings, coming up with game-day-ready Buffalo Chicken, served with celery and hot sauce with blue cheese dip, and Chicken Parmesan, replete with garlicky breadcrumbs, mozzarella and red sauce. Back by popular demand for January is the popular Brunch Dumpling. With a mix of softly scrambled eggs, maple breakfast sausage, cheddar cheese, onions and everything bagel seasoning, plus Sir Kensington’s ketchup for dipping, it’s dim sum and all-American brunch in one bite.
Foie Gras Gyoza at O Ya, Boston
O Ya is renowned for its pristine sushi, including a much-loved seared foie gras nigiri preparation, but don’t sleep on the Foie Gras Gyoza, tucked away on the menu under the heading “other stuff.” The dumplings are a true mash-up of high and low, fine dining and street food: paper-thin gyoza wrappers sourced from Japan, piped with a classic French foie gras mousseline, crisped up like a pot sticker and topped with truffle oil, scallion-ginger sauce, pink peppercorns and Kyoto sansho berry powder, ground from the tingly-spicy Japanese pepper. With each bite, the delicate wrapper gives way to the luscious filling while each of the accompanying flavors — from earthy to floral to spicy — manages to shine on its own.
Bacon Cheeseburger Dumpling at The Dump Truck, Portland, Ore.
Before Julia Filip and Reid Barrett had their popular Portland food trucks, they served their Chinese-style steamed dumplings at a local karaoke bar. After a month of serving classic combinations like pork-and-scallion, the bar’s owners requested a flavor more suited to the tipsy late-night crowd. Thus the Bacon Cheeseburger Dumpling was born. Once steamed, the bacon fat renders the ground beef dumpling incredibly juicy, while melted Tillamook cheddar cheese and a side of zippy homemade secret sauce bring it fully into cheeseburger territory. The dumplings’ accompaniments stay true to their Far East roots with a choice of Asian-style coleslaw or salad with Japanese-style sesame dressing.
Photos courtesy of Nicole Franzen, @BeautifulCuisine, The Dump Truck