8 Great Pan-Fried Dumplings You Should Eat in Seattle

Who doesn’t love dumplings? They come in all types of international styles, and seem so tempting on the plate, like sculpted purses holding hidden treasures. As with well-wrapped birthday gifts, they look beautiful on the outside, but immediately make you wonder what’s going on inside. Plus, they offer the added bonus of one or more potential dipping sauces.

I’m especially smitten with Asian dumplings, from basic Chinese potstickers to their more exotic brethren. And I love them fried. Steamed or boiled are most common, but when the dough hits the pan, the fat-filled oil only enhances the flavor, providing a crisp and crunchy texture.

After a search through Seattle-area restaurants, I wouldn’t say this is a thorough list of the best pan-fried dumplings, but instead a diverse list with some of my favorites, and the ones I find the most fascinating. In my ongoing dumpling quest, I’m looking for interesting forms, fillings, and even toppings—or, admittedly, sheer value.

Continue on for eight pan-fried dumplings that make their mark in the Seattle area—plus one bonus with only limited availability.


The Gyoza ($7.00 for 6) at Showa izakaya are filled with pork, chopped bay shrimp, garlic chives, lots of garlic, and salted cabbage. The salting eliminates the water content, resulting in a nicely crisped wrapper and making these the most delicate and delicious gyoza in the area. Plus, a little extra batter adds wings to these two-bite dumplings. (Note they’re available Tuesdays only in limited numbers, selling out quickly.)


When I’m really craving a serious dumpling, I go to Henry’s Taiwan Plus in Seattle’s International District. The Beef Bing ($4.95 for 2) are the size of a hockey puck, and an exquisitely juicy affair reminiscent of xiao long bao. They’ve a bit unwieldy even for a savvy chopstick user, so keep a spoon handy to catch the juice that jumps out when you take your first bite. You can try dipping the dumpling in a little soy sauce (maybe with a touch of black vinegar), or, even better, ask for Henry’s special chili sauce.


The popular pan-Asian (and indeed global) restaurant Revel always has a few dumplings on its bold, ever-changing menu. Recent versions included shrimp and bacon (with pickled ginger and cilantro) and chickpea with roasted cauliflower (and mustard yogurt), but I recommend the regularly offered Short Rib Dumplings ($9 for 5) with shallot and scallion. The short rib is meaty and hearty, and while your server will make pairing suggestions, you can dip your dumplings into any of the four sauces in the terrific condiment tray.


Also available steamed (Jjinmandu), I recommend ordering Gunmandu ($9.99 for 8) for fantastic fried Korean dumplings at Ka Won, north of Seattle in Lynnwood. Filled with beef and zucchini (and a little cabbage), these wonton-like dumplings are incredibly crunchy and delicious dipped in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar, with slices and jalapeno and raw onion. Plus, as at most Korean restaurants, you get your fill of banchan with the meal.


Many stop by the brightly lit Szechuan Noodle Bowl in Seattle’s International District for big bowls of soup. For me, though, the best pick are the Potstickers ($6.75 for 8). They’ve got the basic filling of ground pork, napa cabbage, ginger, and garlic, but they’re long in length (three-biters) and perfectly pan-fried.


For an Indonesian twist on Chinese shumai, I recommend the Siomay ($5.95 for 5) at Indo Café. These dumplings are made with tilapia and fried chicken, packed tight like a fish ball, then steamed and finished by pan-frying. Slathered with peanut sauce and a topping of ground peanuts, they’re slightly sticky and sweet, and satisfyingly filling. Get the green onion pancake if you want more fried goodness.


Sichuanese Cuisine in Seattle’s Little Saigon is a true hole-in-the-wall, with the Fried Dumplings (20 for $4.95) one of the most popular orders. You can also get them steamed, but frying crisps the dough around the filling of pork and just a little cabbage. A feast for a five-spot, they’re small but plentiful, perfect for popping into your mouth after dipping in soy sauce, chili paste, and garlic.


While most of the food is forgettable at Pandasia, the Emperor’s Choice Dumplings ($7.95 for 6) have enormous potential. Enormous is a key word, as these rustic dumplings with thick wrappers are rather massive in size. Inside, along with minced pork, you’ll find Chinese lap cheong sausage—adding its sweetness—along with cabbage, water chestnuts, black mushrooms, shallot, garlic, cilantro, and scallions.


If you’ll permit me to show off my real favorites, some of the best pan-fried dumplings in Seattle are the gyoza my partner Akiko makes right in our own kitchen. She tops the dumpling wrappers with the standard ground pork, napa cabbage, ginger, and garlic filling, crimps them expertly, and then pan-fries/steams/pan-fries them with an extra pour of batter to create crunchy wings with every bite. We dip them in some vinegar-laced soy sauce, sometimes spiked with a little rayu (chili oil).

(Originally published at Serious Eats on August 8, 2012.)


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