The Chinese New Year—i.e., the Year of the Monkey—officially kicks off today, and one of the most customary ways to celebrate is to eat lucky foods, such as long noodles (for extended life), whole fish (which symbolizes abundance) and, of course, dumplings; auspiciously shaped like silver ingots. Not only that, but it’s alleged that the more dumplings you consume, the more money you’ll make in the months to come — so hedge your bets with a borough-wide dumpling crawl, including pit-stops for soup-filled xialongbao at Yaso Tangbao, and pretzel pork potstickers from Talde.
Great Taste Dumpling: Just one of many prime dumpling destinations in Sunset Park, this venerable five for a dollar spot (formerly known as Prosperity Dumpling) is reliably thronged with locals. Not unlike Di Fara, long wait times are owed largely to the fact that the owner is in sole charge of the woks and steamer baskets, churning out fluted packets filled with chives and pork, cabbage and pork, beef, chicken, shrimp or vegetables, from 7am-11pm each day.
4317 8th Avenue, Sunset Park
East Wind Snack Shop: Chris Cheung may have spent the better part of his career in high-end kitchens, such as Nobu and Jean-Georges, but there’s nothing remotely elitist about East Wind Snack Shop. Largely inspired by the cacophonous tea rooms of 60’s-era Chinatown, quality at the snug, three-table shop is exceptionally high (Cheung is a one-man show, making everything from scratch daily) and prices blessedly low— only $5 for dumplings packed with house-ground pork, or $7 for potstickers, plush with 28 day dry-aged beef.
471 16th Street, Windsor Terrace
Yaso Tangbao: One of the precious few soup dumpling specialists in Brooklyn, this month-old eatery takes its xiaolongbao exceedingly seriously. Which is why, although everything else is available for takeout, the puffy buns—delivered in their own bamboo baskets—can only be had in house. Far better to enjoy the handiwork of master chef Zongxing Tu (formerly of Joe’s Shanghai), who deftly lines transparent skins with sheets of gelatinized meat broth, draped around fillings of ginger-perfumed ground pork and shredded blue crab.
148 Lawrence Street, Downtown Brooklyn
Talde: A signature dish since the beginning, it’s a serious transgression to dine at Talde without an order or two of potstickers. In duel deference to New Yorker’s deep-seated love of Chinese food and soft pretzels, the salt-studded dumplings consist of a classic pork and chive filling, tucked inside of wheat wrappers that have been blanched in diluted baking soda, washed with egg and butter, and served with a side of spicy, sesame oil-saturated mustard.
369 7th Avenue, Park Slope
King’s County Imperial: The Stone Park Café team has transferred their market-driven ethos to this new Chinese restaurant in Williamsburg. Which means, in addition to crispy garlic chicken made with Lancaster County poultry, and mapo tofu boasting housemade bean curd, you’ll find long dumplings, potstickers and tidy shumai stuffed with seasonal vegetables and Berkshire pork. Although the most manifestly Brooklyn touch might just be the small batch, barrel aged and tap-dispensed soy sauce.
20 Skillman Avenue, Williamsburg
Xi’an Famous Foods: Now that Brooklyn finally has a branch of Xi’ian, it’s easy to see what they’re so darn famous for; namely, tingly lamb face salads, crumbly, flat bread-encased burgers, and of course, slippery boiled Chinese dumplings; made with the same tender dough as the stellar hand-ripped noodles. Swollen with minced lamb or a mix of mung bean vermicelli and spinach, and slicked with a sauce of black vinegar and chili oil or deposited in broth, they’re highly representative of the spicy-sour, Muslim-inflected cuisine of Xi’an; situated at the foot of the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road.
648 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint