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Whether you enjoy them pan-seared or steamed, it’s hard to deny the comfort of warm dumplings. Wrapped up in a doughy case and filled with pork, shrimp, or any variety of ingredients, these pockets full of flavor are the perfect meal to have on a cold winter day. If you stop by an eatery in Chinatown for dim sum or chance upon a food truck outside, you’ll find there are so many places to get delicious, savory dumplings in the Greater Boston area.
We asked readers where they go for the best dumplings in Greater Boston, and more than 100 people responded to our survey and on social media, recommending 42 local businesses. Dumpling Daughter came in first place, earning 17% of the vote.
Nadia Liu Spellman, founder and CEO of Dumpling Daughter, told Boston.com that her business’ dumplings are inspired by her grandmother, who learned how to cook from the chefs in her household when she was growing up in Northern China in the early 1900s. “The best dumpling is the one that I grew up with, because it is nostalgic of my childhood,” Spellman said. “The one that I grew up with is the one that my grandmother and my mom used to make by hand.”
Below, we’ve put together a reader-recommended guide to where you can find these soft and juicy morsels, including a full list and map of all recommended locations.
A 🏆 means that this spot was among the top five in 2022 and 2020.
This modern restaurant and bar, which took 6% of the vote, is “a crowd pleaser,” according to one reader. The spot offers a menu of handcrafted dumplings, such as the Mama dumplings, filled with pork and cabbage, and the cuttlefish, which come with a squid ink wrap. Reader Kirk from Malden said, “District Kitchen makes the dough on site, stuffs them with deliciousness, cooks them to perfection, and brings amazing dumplings to your table. …They also have beef, vegetarian, shrimp, cuttlefish, and giant soup dumplings. Their dumpling sauce is amazing, and they have chili [sauce]. You can even get a box of fresh-frozen ones to cook at home, so you can always have District Kitchen dumpling goodness whenever you want!”
2 Florence St., Malden
In Chinatown, you’ll find that this local haunt, which also earned 6% of the vote, doles out Taiwanese and Sichuan dishes. You’ll be able to sit down to a meal of tender, supple bites at Dumpling Cafe, where they serve popular soup dumplings. The spot was also voted as the top reader pick in 2020. Readers pointed to the mini juicy buns, which come with either pork or pork and crabmeat, but you’ll find a variety of other dumpling options on their menu, ranging from the fried chicken to the steamed seafood. Pan-fried wontons and dumplings with vegetarian fillings also appear on their list, while you can place an order for scallion pancakes or spring rolls to accompany your hot, freshly cooked lunch or dinner. An anonymous reader from the South End wrote, “Love all the dumplings on the menu.”
695 Washington St., Boston
An unpretentious restaurant in Central Square, Mary Chung Restaurant delivers on “old style” Chinese food, according to manager Tom Chung. Readers were enthusiastic about the famous Suan La Chow Show, which comes in either pork or shrimp flavors, calling it “a tradition for decades.” While the spot, also tying for 6% of the vote, is currently only open for takeout, visitors have been coming to Mary Chung’s for over 30 years. Yelp reviewers gave the restaurant positive reviews, noting that the place serves “comforting” and homey dishes. Becky H. from Woburn wrote, “Mary Chung’s has been a Cambridge institution for many years! Mary and her son Tom, as always, welcome me with a smile and suggest tasty specials! Their Peking ravioli are also top shelf. The Suan La Chow Show is a unique blend of steamed wontons, bean sprouts, and a spicy sauce that offers the best burn ever!”
464 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
While Chinatown’s Gourmet Dumpling House closed earlier this year, its lively Cambridge offshoot, Dumpling House, remains, and has fed many enthusiastic fans. The spot, which took 12% of the vote, serves authentic Northern and Southern Chinese food, and readers expressed that they adore the pork and leek dumplings, as well as the soup dumplings. Vegetarians can try the spinach dumplings with eggs, while meat eaters may also enjoy the beef and celery, steamed or fried. The restaurant’s two main chefs hail from different parts of China, representing Shandong and Fuzhou, according to manager and business partner Adam Bing.
Bing said that the process of making the dumplings requires a lot of preparation and thought. “For soup dumplings, they have to cook the soup first, mostly from the pork and chicken bones,” Bing said. He added, “They have to wait for the soup to be cold for a half day.” The recipes often call for the mixing in of scallions and ginger in the broth.
Rachel K. from Newton said that she loves the “soup dumplings—they are delicious, fun to eat, and not always available at a standard Chinese restaurant.”
950 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
Serving Chinese cuisine is a way of life for founder and CEO of Dumpling Daughter Nadia Liu Spellman. The concept of the restaurant, which has locations in Brookline, Cambridge, and Weston, was inspired by family, as Spellman said that her parents owned Boston restaurant Sally Ling’s and that she experienced her mother and grandmother preparing dumplings growing up. The company will be opening another spot in South Boston in February 2023, she added.
When readers come to Dumpling Daughter, they enjoy the pan-seared pork and napa cabbage, the steamed pork and chive, and the petit chicken dumplings, which come with sesame sauce, chili oil, cilantro, and scallions. Reader Brett from Malden said that he likes that the dough is a little bit on the thicker side and that his children enjoy digging into the mini dumplings, as well.
“The dough is not thin, but it’s not too thick,” Spellman said. “It has [a] great al dente bite to it. It’s traditionally boiled at home or pan seared. The reason why a lot of dumplings today are steamed is because a lot of people like the very thin style.” She added, “When you bite into it, the juices from the meat fall into your mouth.” Spellman explained that while her restaurants’ dumplings are not handmade, the machine-made dumplings they produce are “much more consistent and [clean] than [those made by] human labor workers.”
Matt P. from Brighton said, “The steamed pork and chive dumplings were amazing, as well as the steamed beef bun. The [founder and CEO] was featured on Guy Fieri’s [Guy’s Grocery Games] show.” Dumpling Daughter claimed 17% of the vote.
Mei Mei: This popular restaurant, originally founded by chef Irene Li and siblings as a food truck, will be opening a dumpling factory and cafe in South Boston on January 21, 2023, serving up dumplings in flavors like lemongrass pork and cheddar scallion potato, along with rotating seasonal vegan ones, such as mushroom tofu cilantro. They will also host dumpling making classes. Mei Mei was voted as a top spot by readers, but they did not choose to leave additional comments. (58 Old Colony Ave., Boston)
Tasty Dumplings: At this Lowell restaurant producing handcrafted dumplings, you can try pan-fried potstickers—like the chicken and corn or kimchi and pork, shumai, and chive pockets here. Enjoy a Chinese iced plum drink with your meal while you’re at this eatery. (351 Market St., Lowell)
Readers say: “This place is a small, unassuming spot with some of the best dumplings around! We always order the pork soup dumplings. Each order contains 8 dumplings that are filled with piping hot soup and tender pork. They are comforting and delicious!” –Melissa F., Lowell
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