As one of the most culturally diverse thoroughfares in the United States, Roosevelt Avenue in Queens boasts a dining scene that spans cuisines across Asia, the Caribbean, South America, and beyond. With the 7 train — dubbed “the International Express” — clattering overhead, it’s easy to eat down the avenue and its side streets, finding freshly made dumplings.
With origins at least as far back as the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) in China, dumplings have evolved into countless versions that reflect the tastes of varied cultures. From Woodside to Flushing, there are restaurants and markets representing Thailand, Tibet, Korea, the Philippines, and northern China.
Here’s the ultimate way to hit the multicultural dumplings of Roosevelt Avenue.
Phil-Am Food Mart
Phil-Am Food Mart is a lively Filipino grocery that carries all the essentials, including balut (fertilized duck egg) in the cold case and an array of sweet polvorón (shortbread) on the shelves. Head to the back of the store to find baked bun siopao, golden-brown, airy and filled with savory-sweet, soy-infused pork asado. Sometimes called “toasted” siopao, based on China’s cha siu bao, they’re an ideal on-the-go snack, sold in batches of four or six. Phil-Am Food Mart also stocks empanadas from Thursday to Sunday, and they’re freshest in the afternoons, staff say. 4003 70th St., at Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside
Just off Roosevelt Avenue on 37th Road, a narrow stairway leads to Phayul, one of the many excellent Himalayan restaurants in the neighborhood. At a fast and furious pace, staff in the open kitchen fold hefty, juicy Tibetan momo packed with fillings like fluffy mashed potato. Fresh from the steamer or a pot of boiling water, they’re plump and slippery with a gentle chew. Don’t skip the vermillion-hued, house-made pepper puree or crunchy chile oil. At peak hours, when a line forms down the restaurant’s staircase, get the dumplings to go. 37-65 74th St., Second Fl., entrance on 37th Road, Jackson Heights
The aroma of fresh durian greets customers at Pata Market, a compact grocery/cafe specializing in Thai prepared foods and snacks. Head to the back for the steamed dumpling selection, but be sure to return to the large front table for goodies like jackfruit coconut milk drinks, pandan jelly, whole fish, or tender pork doused in fiery curry. The standout dumpling is the lava salted egg bun or liu sha bao, whose supple, steamed dough yields to a gooey, lightly salty-sweet yolk filling . Take bites carefully, lest the egg dribbles down to shirts below. Chinese in origin, the buns are a popular choice at Thai convenience stores and dim sum restaurants. 81-16 Broadway, between 81st and 82nd streets, Elmhurst
Assorted dumplings at the New World Mall
An escalator ride down to New World Mall basement food court leads to an exciting smorgasbord of dumplings (and many more pan-Asian delicacies), from dim sum to pan-fried pork options. One crowd pleaser is Fish Dumpling, stall 25, which sells an aromatic, tender chive and egg variety, in addition to the titular dumplings stuffed with fish so finely minced they melt in the mouth immediately. Xiao long bao (soup dumpling) fans will appreciate Yoz Shanghai, stall 20, whose delicate-skinned soup dumplings hold just the right amount of broth. 136-20 Roosevelt Ave., at Main Street, Flushing
Northern Wang Mandoo
Steam clings invitingly to the windows of this friendly, bright cafe specializing in wang mandu, or “king dumplings” in Korean. These pillowy steamed buns are so jumbo-sized, they require both hands to pick up, yet still maintain a fresh lightness in their leavened dough. Fillings, like the well-seasoned cabbage and pork or mellow, warming kimchi, are savory and moist with a hint of pleasant crunch. Jing Lan Quan, whose parents own Northern Wang Mandoo, said her family inherited the recipes from the auntie who used to run the place. The menu, which includes smaller, northern Chinese-style steamed dumplings and soups like malatang, reflects her family’s Chinese-Korean heritage. 14944 Northern Blvd., between 149th Place and 150th Street, Flushing