When you want to do a Nellie Bly and go around the world in less time than the average man, the best way to do it is at the helm of your kitchen table. Eat dumplings. Eat DC dumplings and you can quickly visit China, Japan and even another parts of the US.
Doughy pockets filled with grilled meats and cheeses are the great equalizer. Language, culture and religion stand no chance to the simple dumpling. Found on every continent, each one has its own special cultural twist. Empanadas are hearty and spicy and are good any time of the day. If you bite into a good dollop of gnocchi, there will likely be a string of bubbling cheese twisting out. When you dive into China’s xiaolongbao, there’s a careful etiquette. Take a small bite, lest you burn yourself. Cautiously and loudly slurp the soup and then pop the rest in your mouth. Chew. Swallow. And repeat.
Where Should You Go?
For xiaolongbao, head over to the quirkily named Ping Pong Dim Sum. They have locations in Chinatown and Dupont Circle. If you’re not feeling some delicious soup dumplings, it’s worth trying to make your way through the whole menu.
If you’re trying to break your Chinese food habit, why not try compromising and head over to Toki Underground on H Street to wolf down some Japanese gyoza. Gyozas are a cousin of the dumpling, just with slightly thinner wrappers and have finely minced meat. Traditionally, these gyoza act as something to tide you over until the ramen comes. However, they are just so good and they could stand as the main course all on its lonesome. Protip: Get their early and try all of the dumplings. They do a beef, pork, chicken, vegetable and seafood.
Getting out of Asia entirely, you can find (one of) the West’s answer to the dumpling right in Pennsylvania. Thanks to the Amish, we are the pleasure and luxury of enjoying the Apple Dumpling. It’s a peeled and cored apple that’s been lathered with cinnamon sugar, then it’s wrapped in fresh dough and baked until warm and tender and bubbly. Combined with a crisp apple and vanilla ice cream, it’s delicious. Head to Café La Ruche on 31st St NW to try it for yourself
The list of dumplings could go on forever. Each nation has their own and more than likely claims theirs as the best. It’s worth trying them all though. Just to see for yourself.