Pan-seared. Steamed. Stuffed with pork and chives or rendered in soup form. In the realm of dumplings, you can hardly go wrong. And for some, tucking into a plate of dumplings is like going home.
Nadia Liu Spellman grew up eating five-star Chinese banquet food at her parents beloved restaurant, Sally Ling’s, but it was homemade dumplings that truly brought her comfort and happiness.
“It is the essential comfort food of my childhood,” she said, describing how her family would drive to her grandma’s house on the weekends and eat plates of dumplings for lunch. “Specifically, the pork and chive dumplings, because the chives kind of sets this aroma throughout the house when you cut it fresh — it has a very distinct smell. My classmates all had mac and cheese, and my mac and cheese was pork and chive dumplings. It literally brings me back to my childhood.”
In 2014, Spellman opened Dumpling Daughter in Weston, a restaurant dedicated to her childhood favorites that includes a handful of dumpling options, like chicken and cabbage, mixed vegetables, and, yes, pork and chive. She expanded to Cambridge in 2018 and, in the midst of the pandemic, opened a third branch in Brookline last year. On Friday, she’s launching something she’s been wanting to do since Dumpling Daughter was a seed of an idea: an e-commerce site, selling frozen dumplings nationwide.
“The original reason I started Dumpling Daughter was because I wanted to sell frozen dumplings to the Western markets,” Spellman explained. “Dumpling Daughter was such a great project for me, and it really reached levels beyond my dreams. I was so enveloped opening these restaurants that I forgot what the original goal was. When the pandemic hit, I thought: Well, if everybody’s home, then they should probably cook these dumplings at home.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Dumpling Daughter started offering frozen dumplings, buns, and sauces at the Weston location; now, their frozen dumplings are available at Volante Farms, New England Country Mart, Codman Community Farms, Concord Market, and, as of Feb. 11, Formaggio Kitchen in the South End. Soon, dumpling fans from across the country will be able to order frozen dumplings from Dumpling Daughter’s website.
Boston has an abundance of dumplings, and even though restaurants have continued to struggle throughout the pandemic, many places are still offering dumplings for dine-in, takeout, and delivery. Whether you’re celebrating Chinese New Year or simply in the mood for a plate of freshly-made dumplings, here are some stand-out dumpling spots that are currently open in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville (plus a few places that offer frozen varieties for takeout or delivery). Looking for restaurants beyond Boston? Check out this list of reader recommended dumpling locations.
Bess’s Cafe, Brookline
Chalawan Asian Eatery, Cambridge
China Pearl, Boston
Dumpling Cafe, Boston
Dumpling Daughter, Cambridge
Dumpling House, Cambridge
Dumpling Kingdom, Boston
Dumpling Palace, Boston
Gourmet China House, Boston
Gourmet Dumpling House, Boston
Mary Chung, Cambridge
Mei Mei, Boston
Myers + Chang, Boston
Shanghai Gate, Boston
Taiwan Cafe, Boston
Wang’s Chinese Cuisine, Somerville
Winsor Dim Sum Cafe, Boston
Zoe’s Chinese Restaurant, Somerville
Now that we’re all cooking at home more, some restaurants are offering bags of their own frozen dumplings. In addition to Dumpling Daughter, you can order frozen dumplings from Dumpling Kingdom, Dumpling Palace, Mimi’s Chūka Diner, Myers + Chang, Qingdao Garden, Wang’s Dumplings, and Yang’s Dumplings.
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