Kevin and I stayed in LA this weekend (for once!). I figured we were long overdue for a local food road trip. Now, I’m not ashamed to say it — we have a weakness for dumplings. Okay, it’s not the healthy Los Angeles diet regime. But sometimes we just want a little comfort food. Since moving here 7 years ago, we’ve been on the hunt for a place just as good as Joe’s Shanghai’s in New York’s Chinatown (with it’s juicy soup dumplings).
We have searched far and wide to come up with our top picks below. What we found were incredible dumplings from around the world. Who knew so many dumplings existed? We didn’t. And yes, we even found a soup dumpling to rival Joe’s Shanghai (after trying a dozen or so places). No shame!
5. Korean Dumpling: Mandu
Myung Dong Kyoja is one of our go-to dumpling spots, located in the heart of Koreatown. Inside you’ll find mostly Korean families and a thick menu with pictures (thank god!). Just go with the Mandu (or steamed pork dumplings) and you’ll be all set. This place is open late – until midnight on weekdays and 3 AM on Fridays. And best of all, you’ll get all-you-can eat kimchi (fermented cabbage) to snack on while you wait for the hot dumplings. Just watch out for the bright red kimchi, a spicy version and will make your eyes water and open the sinuses! Who needs Flonase? Or just stick with the white kimchi to skip the burn.
- Address: 3630 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
- Cost: 10-piece dumpling (1 order) costs just $9.49.
4. Koreantown Dumpling Take 2: King Steam Dumpling
Last year — when I was holed up from my knee surgery — I spent a good amount of time watching Netflix. I zipped through Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and loved the episode where he eats his way through LA’s sprawling Koreatown. It is basically our weekend! One of his stops included a tiny strip mall with Myung In Dumplings — where he ordered their #1, King Steam Dumplings with Pork and Vegetables. I knew we had to go. Come hungry, because these suckers are huge. Inside, you’ll see photos of Bourdain and lots of articles that have come out since. Definitely worth the stop!
- Address: 3109 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006 Koreatown
- Cost: Stick with menu item #1 (Steamed Dumplings) that will set you back just $7 an order
3. Polish Dumpling: Pierogi’s!
Growing up in Northeast Pennsylvania (a big Polish immigrant area), I already have a weakness for pierogi’s (dumplings filled with mashed potatoes). In high school, I even toured a pierogi factory. How this related to any class, I still couldn’t tell you! I ate around a dozen free samples. I mean, who does that? This stop took us almost all the way to Glendale, located about 12 miles North of Downtown LA. But it’s worth the journey. Located in a strip mall, Polka Polish Cuisine specializes in not only pierogi’s but a wide range of other Polish food that you’ll have no self control from ordering.
The interior is like visiting your old babushka with knick-knacks hanging off the walls and polka dancer mugs shoved onto shelves.
- Address: 4112 Verdugo Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90065
- Cost: Pierogi’s with vegetables cost $9 for an order of 6
2. Chinese: Soup Dumplings (or Xiao Long Bao)
We came across this next stop purely by accident. Kevin was navigating and directed us a new way to reach downtown LA. I reluctantly agreed (change is hard!) and saw the very catchy-looking airstream trailer restaurant called Golden Pouch Dim Sum. We immediately pulled over and were excited to see they had Xiao Long Bao (or soup dumplings!).
You’ll find a selection of Asian-inspired snacks including meat-filled buns, egg rolls and all types of dumplings. But we were really impressed with these soup dumplings. And the ease of ordering (at the touch screen located next to the takeout window). And like many of the places in Koreatown, this place is open late until 1 AM on weekdays and 2 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. At least that’s what the sign says (as we’re long in bed at that point!).
- Address: 3324 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
- Cost: 10-piece soup dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) just $9.99
1. Country of Georgia: Khinkali Fried Cheese Dumpling
Finally, the shocker of all. Our #1 dumpling pick goes to a cuisine we never even knew existed until we moved to LA — Khinkali, a popular Georgian dumpling made of twisted knobs of dough, stuffed with meat and spices. Or other variations like cheese. It is considered to be one of the national dishes of Georgia.
This snack became kind of an obsession — where I talked about it for weeks after researching various dumpling stops for this post. These very filling dumplings originated from the mountainous area of Georgia, a country squeezed between Turkey to the South and Russia to the North (thanks Google!). TKF Tumanian Khinkali Factory, located in Glendale, is the perfect place to try out the dumplings and is also the most beautiful restaurant of any place on this list. We tried a few items on the menu, but the best were the fried khinkali filled with cheese. We loved it so much that we ordered more after the first bite. To eat these dumplings, pick it up with your hands and devour it all but the knobby tip at the top. The wine menu is also unique with selections from Armenia and Georgia as well as California. But in true LA fashion, we also really loved that parking here was such a breeze – with a public lot located right over the restaurant. Yes! We’ll definitely be back!
- Address:113 N Maryland Ave, Glendale, CA 91206
- Cost: $2.50-$2.75 per khinkali (dumpling). We ordered 4 khinkali and were definitely full by the end!