Given that Flushing, Queens is the true epicenter of Chinese culture in New York City, it’s no surprise that the neighborhood is also ground zero for the city’s most delicious lip-numbing Sichuan cuisine, or even Muslim lamb chops. Throw in the mix of specialty street food vendors and you’ve got reason to believe that Flushing is one of the most vibrant food destinations.
Of course, the quality and diversity of Chinese food in the neighborhood also extends to its dumplings—pan-fried, boiled, or smothered in chili oil. Either way, you can’t really go wrong. We’ve compiled a list of the hood’s best, from a haute take on soup dumplings, to an unusual steam-fried hybrid for those who can’t decide between the two.
Guo tie from Li’s Lanzhou Hand-Stretched Noodles
The name of the game here might be noodles, but the real showstopper here is the guo tie, or potstickers. Buried in an extensive menu, the pork and chive and pork leek dumplings (No. 31 and No. 32, respectively) are freshly made and well worth the wait. The Henanese folks who run this stall cook their potstickers in a radial pattern resembling an asterisk. They’re extremely juicy, and the thin, crisp sheet of dough between each dumpling makes for fun eating.
Lamb and Green Squash Dumplings from Tianjin Dumpling House
Tianjin Dumpling House’s owners struck gold when they opened Dumpling Galaxy and scored a one-star review from The New York Times. I still prefer the original location in the basement of the down-and-dirty Golden Shopping Mall, a place that both Fuchsia Dunlop and Anthony Bourdain have likened to China itself. There are more a dozen varieties of northern style shui jiao, or steamed dumplings, but my favorite remains yang rou shui jiao, or lamb dumplings with green squash. The steamy little packages are redolent of gamey minced lamb and ginger. Mix up some black vinegar and chili to make your own dipping sauce. Pro tip: Ask for a bowl of dumpling water—the broth the dumplings are steamed in—to settle your stomach after downing a dozen shui jiao.
Black Truffle Soup Dumplings from Shanghai 33
Address and phone: 57-33 Main St (718-353-5791)
Good for: Jaded XLB-heads seeking luxury
The best crab and pork xiao long bao in Queens can be had at Shanghai 33, just a 10-minute car ride from downtown Flushing. Thin skinned and juicy, they’ve been joined by a decidedly more upscale cousin, hei song lu xiao long bao, or black truffle soup dumplings. The luxurious little purses arrive smelling of earthy truffle, filled with pork and bits of precious mushroom. Add the black vinegar and ginger if you must, but it’s best to enjoy the black truffle xiao long bao without any additional flourishes.
Wontons in Chili Oil from White Bear
Stand before the counter and it won’t be long before one member of this mom-and-pop shop asks (and commands), “No. 6? Take a seat.” Wontons in chili oil, a.k.a. No. 6, is all practically anyone orders at this tiny storefront. After sitting down you’ll soon be presented with a plate containing a dozen ivory-skinned wontons sitting in a shallow pool of chili oil strewn with chives and bits of pickled mustard green. The combination of spicy oil, and crunchy, salty mustard green is nothing less than a gastronomic tour de force.
Three Delicacies Sheng Jian Bao from Lu Wei
The dumpling eight-pack is listed on the menu as triple delight dumplings ($7.99), but the lady behind the counter told me they’re actually called sheng jian bao. Like another of my favorite dumplings, these babies are served upside down—the better to inspect the crackling golden brown bottoms fused together by a sheet of dough. The “triple delight” reference turns out to be egg, mushroom, and pork. These not-so-little marvels are half between fried dumplings and steamed buns. A tad oily, they are nonetheless fun to eat, especially the shatteringly crunchy web of dough that binds them together.