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A mess of dumpling fried crisp with two bottles of sauce in the background.
Jin Mei dumplings are 15 for $5.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The Best Dumplings in Manhattan’s Chinatown

To-go options that cost $7 or less, ranked

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Timed for the start of Lunar New Year — the Year of the Dragon — celebrated from February 10 to February 24, I decided to go on a Chinese dumpling hunt. I spent two days sampling old favorites as well as ones I hadn’t tried before. And, while I focused on potstickers with the classic pork and chive filling, I sometimes sampled the steamed variety, and those with slightly different fillings, too. Here is a chronology of my adventures, followed by a ranking of the dumplings. (Note: Most places are cash only.)

Two women in black t shirts and white hats fold dumplings at a table.
Making the dumplings at North Dumpling (aka Homemade Dumpling).

THE DESTINATIONS

Shu Jiao Fuzhou Cuisine

Fried dumplings are available only on the weekends at this wildly popular spot, so I went for the steamed pork and chive — big, puffy, floppy, thin-skinned things in the northern style, very porky, amorphously shaped: six for $3. 295 Grand Street, near Eldridge Street

A storefront with a white marquee and Chinese lettering.
Shu Jiao Fuzhou Cuisine.
A white plastic bowl with six wobbly steamed dumplings.
Shu Jiao Fuzhou Cuisine.

King Dumplings

The dumplings are very thick skinned and greasy at this hopping spot, taste reheated, meaty and misshapen with a nice chive note, white vinegar in red plastic pitcher must be poured on top to cut the grease: 10 for $4. 74 Hester Street, at Allen Street

A corner storefront with white graffiti lettering.
King Dumplings.
10 greasy looking fried dumplings.
King Dumplings.

North Dumpling

Also known as Homemade Dumpling, this narrow stall is like a factory with a pair of workers making the potstickers while another constantly delivers them freshly cooked to the front counter in a carnival atmosphere. I tried both steamed and fried. The skin is medium thick and the fried ones are crunchy, with perhaps a little less filling than usual. Strong chive and pork notes, 10 for $4. 27 Essex Street, near Hester Street

Two signs, one saying North Dumpling, the other Homemade Dumpling.
North Dumpling.
10 fried dumplings browned on one side.
North Dumpling (aka Homemade Dumpling).

Wu’s Wonton King

Most Cantonese restaurants offer potstickers, usually not as good or fresh as those made in the narrow storefronts. These were thick skinned, more simply shaped, referred to as pork and vegetable, but really just pork and cabbage: four for $6. 165 E. Broadway, at Rutgers Street

A corner storefront with a chromium wraparound sign.
Wu’s Wonton King.
Four dumplings, one cut open, in a clear plastic container.
Wu’s Wonton King.

Carol’s Bun

The wonderful and inexpensive Lower East Side Cantonese spot, around nearly 20 years, serves potstickers of amorphous shape with enough garlic chives to have an impact on the porky flavor, cooked on a surface that leaves a crunchy grid on the bottom: 10 for $7. 139 E. Broadway, near Pike Street

A storefront with picture of dishes displayed in the window.
Carol’s Bun.
10 mangled dumplings with bumpy brown sides in a white plastic tray.
Carol’s Bun.

Tasty Dumpling

On Lower Mulberry in Old Chinatown across from Columbus Park, Tasty has one of the larger menus (and larger premises) among dumpling shops, and sells a convenient snacking size portion. The dumplings are small and ribbed with a surprisingly delicate wrapper, and darkly flavorful: Four for $2. 42 Mulberry Street, near Mosco Street

A broad storefront with a dirty yellow awning.
Tasty Dumpling.
Four glistening and browned dumplings.
Tasty Dumpling.

Fried Dumpling

Right around the corner from Tasty, on short and sloping Mosco Street, Fried Dumpling may represent the city’s oldest dumpling spot, a second branch of the original Fried Dumpling on Allen Street, which closed in 2013. The dumplings are made in batches and pooled, so they get often get a final inadvertent steaming after being fried. Not a bad thing, but the potstickers proved a little mushier than usual: 13 for $5. 106 Mosco Street, near Mulberry Street

A sloping street with the storefront and its plain sign on the left.
Fried Dumpling.
Uncountable number of dumplings jammed into a small square plastic box.
Fried Dumpling.

Jin Mei Dumpling

Jin Mei serves up what might be the cheapest dumplings in Chinatown. Located rather obscurely on Henry Street, the entire space is devoted to the manufacturing, so you order through a window and eat at a table outside. The dumplings are flat and porky and so aggressively fried on one side that they crunch: 15 for $5. 25B Henry Street, near Catherine Street

A faded red sign, all in Chinese.
Jin Mei Dumpling.
A mess of dumpling fried crisp with two bottles of sauce in the background.
Jin Mei Dumpling.

Dim Sum Go Go

As I discovered after I sat down and my dumplings arrived, what the waiter had described as potstickers were really steamed pork dumplings with lots of cabbage and a rice wrapper rather a wheat one. They were good nonetheless, just not the kind of dumplings I’d been seeking: Four for $6.50. 5 E. Broadway, near Kimlau Square

A fancy red two story storefront.
Dim Sum Go Go.
Four pale frilled dumplings in a clear plastic container.
Dim Sum Go Go

Vanessa’s Dumpling House

Founded in 1999 and now with several branches, Vanessa’s rode the wave of cheap dumpling popularity to become a student favorite, and indeed the premises feel like a dorm lunchroom. The dumplings — shaped like a Volkswagen bug — are thick skinned, and rather uniform in shape, lacking twists and frills, and very chivey: Eight for $5.50. 118A Eldridge Street, near Broome Street

A faded wide storefront with two delivery bicycles parked in front.
Vanessa’s Dumpling House.
A square white carryout container with humpy dumplings browned on one flat side.
Vanessa’s Dumplings.

Super Taste

Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles were introduced to Chinatown here in 2003, but now the menu partly focuses on dumplings. The shape is odd, rolled like little enchiladas, and the dumplings are deep fried, making them crunchy with a porcine flavor. The three sauces are unusual, too, including a welcome bottle of pure Donghu aged black vinegar: 10 for $6. 26 Eldridge Street, at Canal Street

A small storefront with glass windows and a red awning.
Super Taste.
A white plate with browned dumplings on it and three bottles of sauce behind.
Super Taste.

THE RANKING

1. North Dumpling
2. Vanessa’s Dumpling House
3. Jin Mei Dumpling
4. Tasty Dumpling
5. Super Taste
6, Shu Jiao Fuzhou
7. Carol’s Bun
8. Fried Dumpling
9. King Dumpling
10. Wu’s Wonton King

Disqualified for its rice flour wrapper: Dim Sum Go Go

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