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Mar 8, 2008 06:47 AM

Best jiaozi/steamed dumplings a.k.a. potstickers?

I love Chinese steamed dumplings, usually sold here fried as potstickers, ever since I lived in Beijing years ago. But I can never seem to find any that are as fresh as the way they were made there. Lots of the dumplings here are greasy -- maybe too much pork compared to cabbage/spinach/greens? I went all the way to San Francisco :-) to try them at a restaurant that specializes in Northern Chinese cooking, but I think they made them with lamb? Anyway, does anyone recommend the dumplings anywhere? I live in the East Bay, but I'd try them elsewhere. And if you know of any decent frozen ones, I'd try those too. (Trader Joes' Thai shrimp are my pick for now.)

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  1. Give Kingdom of Dumplings on Taraval in SF a try (sit down restaurant). The owners (I've heard conflicting opinions on whether they're from near Beijing or Shandong) also run an in house dumpling and mien guan (flour based products) operation on Noriega (Asian American Foods). They have multiple offerings of boiled dumplings (all made from scratch), and steamed I believe they have that as well. Start with these two places, and if you find something even better please report back.

    4 Replies
    1. re: K K

      I was up in the City today and stopped at Kingdom of Dumplings for lunch. We had xlbs and steamed/.boiled lamb dumpling and found them very good. I have had the dumplings at both Every Day Beijing, San Dong (SF) and San Tung (Oak hope I got the two spelling right for the right location).

      I found the ones at KOD closer to the Sna Tung then the Beijing ones. The skins were not too thick but I would have like more flavor in the fillings.

      Recently I have developed a taste for dumplings, maybe I need to make some from scratch, not.

      I have heard of a place in the South Bay HC dumpling house or something like which is on my list to try one day.

      Last time we were at Tong Dumpling it not good enough for me to return.

      Kingdom of Dumpling is worth another visit.

      1. re: yimster

        Actually, it's Shan Dong in Oakland and San Tung in San Francisco. Since the original poster specified that s/he lives in the East Bay, I suggest Shan Dong as a first stop. Then maybe around the corner at Shanghai. I always get the XLB there, but they have other dumplings as well.

        Shan Dong Mandarin Restaurant
        328 10th St, Oakland, CA 94607

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Thanks for the correct names. The Chinese same I think has Shan Tung in it so I always mix up names.

          Do not remember names, address but I have a nose for food.

      2. re: K K

        The place on Noriega is now also called Kingdom of Chinese Dumplings. They just sell frozen dumplings, not cooked. They also sell frozen radish cakes, sesame cakes, onion pancakes, wonton (both pork & shrimp and pork & chinese spinach,) and some vegetable-filled bao.

        King of Chinese Dumpling
        1426 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA

      3. Any updates on Tong Dumpling Pot in San Jose or H. C. Dumpling House in Cupertino? Don't recall seeing postings on either of these places for many months.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chandavkl

          Went to HC Dumpling in Cupertino for the 1st time on Saturday. While not quite as good as I remember the dumplings in Shanghai, they certainly scratched the itch. I stuck with the crab but they do offer pork, beef and scallop as well. Worth repeating? Absolutely. My advice is to get there as soon as they open - the tables fill up as quickly as they do in dim sum restaurants.

        2. Try the ones a Joy in Foster City on 1495 Beach Park Blvd. They are rolled rather than wrapped in a circle of dough. They pan fry it so it's crispy and crusty on the outside.

          1. Try Shan Dong in Oakland's Chinatown. Their dumplings, both meat and vegetarian, are very tasty. And you can buy bags of them to take home to eat in the manner you choose--boiled or boiled and then fried.
            For what it's worth, based on my experience in China jiaozi are quite a bit smaller than the dumplings that are turned out as potstickers. Think one bite versus three.

            1. Minor points -- jiaozi are usually boiled, not steamed, though I've occasionally come across a steamed version. Also, potstickers aren't the same as fried jiaozi; the shape is usually different, and the dough for the wrapper is made differently. Leftover jiaozi are sometimes fried (but always boiled first) as "jian jiao"

              KK mentioned a source for frozen dumplings on Noriega -- the name was changed to "Kingdom of Dumplings" (like the restaurant) and you can check out their products (including 15 versions of jiaozi) online:


              If you can find them, the commercial Wei Chuan line of frozen dumplings is very good.

              14 Replies
              1. re: Xiao Yang

                For the nitpicky, jiaozi can also be steamed, as in Chinese on the menu it is proceeded by "steamed" (not sure how to pronounce in Mandarin correctly so I won't type it out wrong) and then jiaozi. I'm personally not a fan of this preparation as most restaurants end up making it way too dry on the outs and ins (ditto for San Tung on Irving).

                But agree, jiaozi traditionally is boiled, hence the more proper term shuijiao, but jiaozi is the more generic name. In Japanese Chinese food world, shuijiao are sui-gyoza (sui = water, gyo= jiao, za = zi).

                If you live in SF proper, there's no need to get Wei Chuan's frozen dumplings if KOD/KOCD is within your reach (unless you live further away like me and don't get up there hardly anymore).

                The best of Wei Chuan's dumplings is the Shan Dong "Hand Craft" subline, which has slightly thicker and mildly chewier toothsome skins than the regular kind (that falls more in line with thinner skins like Japanese style pan fried gyoza). Roughly 28 to 30 pieces in a bag, and Marina Supermarket in San Mateo sells them for $3.50 + tax a bag which is pretty good. For something slightly better, get the MyHall brand (at Marina Supermarket) which also do a decent XLB, made in Southern California although the last two bags I got were very off the norm batches.

                Wei Chuan also has a beef dumplings offering but I haven't tried it yet.

                As far as Cupertino's HC Dumpling House, it has been a while for me.
                Only been once, but I must say their standard Hu Chiang Tang Bao (ie standard XLB, just renamed differently) was very mediocre. The highlight was the loofah and shrimp version (si gua tang bao) that burst with juices, and probably had some garlic in it. I'm curious if the original dumpling chef there from Taiwan is still there, as there was a rumor he left for Yi He Garden in Millbrae, who for the same version, did a complete opposite and flop (dried up contents, as it the SGTB was re-heated or oversteamed) one time.

                And it has been said before but Wei Chuan's frozen beef noodle soup is pretty good for $3.50 and a quick fix/instant gratification. Microwave and add water to dilute the salty broth.

                1. re: K K

                  Gotta try KOCD when in SF. In the meantime, are there any other recs for South Bay dumpling spots, other than HC Dumpling?

                  1. re: maigre

                    HC Dumpling specializes and only offers tang bao, which is the equivalent/identical to Shanghainese XLB. They do not have jiaozi or boiled dumplings.

                    That's a tough one. I have not found a sit down restaurant that I like for Northern Chinese style boiled dumplings in the South Bay, which is why for home use I tend to resort to Wei Chuan or whatever is good at the Chinese supermarket freezer.

                    Tong Dumpling Pot in Cupertino makes them from scratch, but I am no fan of their uber thick skins and rather lackluster flavored content. Good value though.

                    You may want to give Hana in San Jose a try (280/Saratoga Ave) right around the corner from Mitsuwa Supermarket, run by the same folks as Sushi Tomi, Tomi Sushi, Maruichi Ramen (Milpitas and Mountain View), Sushi Maru (Milpitas, San Jose J-town), and Sumi-ya skewer.
                    It's supposedly Japanese style Chinese, but is seemingly more Chinese than it is Japanese (some might disagree).

                    Hana's dumpling chef was hired out of China, near Sichuan and they make dumplings from scratch everyday, plus you can buy bags of them frozen. Cash only place. Almost like a Shan Dong style dumpling with a good amount of thickness to the skins but not too thick. They also make their noodles in house, using the same imported Japanese flour that is used for making ramen noodles in house at Maruichi Ramen (same conglomerate that uses the same supplier). The noodles are great but the contents not quite so. The dumplings can be a bit inconsistent, although the best one to me so far is pork cabbage and ciltantro. You have to ask for white pepper or other condiments, otherwise default is soy sauce. Can't remember if they have black vinegar at the table but it won't hurt to ask.

                    1. re: K K

                      Also known as Hana no Gyoza to some.

                      4320 Moorpark Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                      1. re: K K

                        Thanks for the pointers, K K. I'll check out Hana and probably HC Dumpling one of these days. But I'll look forward to a KOCD adventure when I'm in the city.

                  2. re: Xiao Yang

                    Wow, you guys are great. I'm the original poster, and I'm really pleased to read so much about jiaozi. You're absolutely right, Xiao Yang and K K, I meant "shuijiao" or boiled dumplings, but I've been steaming frozen ones for so long that I just forgot. While we're on the subject of terms, though, what are XLB? And to yimster, really, dumplings aren't that hard to make. OK, I admit, I'm not making them, but that's partly because my recipe just got old and I lost the inspiration. I don't meant rolling the skins out with a mini-rolling pin, but I think store-bought round skins are pretty good. I just need to eat some good ones before I feel like making them again.
                    I'm on my way to Shan Dong now. :-)~ <-- that's supposed to be a tongue

                    1. re: coconut2

                      When you do decide to make your own, buy the skins at Yuen Hop Noodle Company in Oakland's Chinatown - they're fresh, and come in different thicknesses and egginess. They're the only premade dumpling skins I'll use to make ravioli/manti/pierogi with, too, since they don't have the gross preservative flavor most manufactured wrappers have. Also, Yuen Hop has pretty good frozen dumplings (on the large size, with thickish, chewy wrappers, good veg to meat ratio, well seasoned) in the freezer section way in the back, on the left side.

                      XLB is shorthand for xiao long bao - those can be purchased frozen at Shanghai restaurant in Oakland's Chinatown as well.

                      1. re: daveena

                        Jiaozi wrappers should not contain any egg, and they should be rolled with a tapered rolling pin so they are thicker in the middle than the edges. Having said that, I'll admit my wife takes the lazy route and buys premade jioazi wrappers while her perfectionist sister (a tailor by trade) makes the dough from scratch, and turns out much better dumplings.

                        Fortunately my wife doesn't read Chowhound ;-)

                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            I think the eggy ones are for wontons - their jiaozi wrappers are eggless. But they're definitely not rolled with a tapered rolling pin. I haven't tried making my own, but I'm pretty sure they're better than anything I could make on my own...

                          2. re: daveena


                            Yuen Hop
                            824 Webster St, Oakland, CA

                          3. re: coconut2

                            I've never had the time nor the bravery to attempt making my own dumpling skins from scratch, although I'd love to learn it sometime.

                            Other than that I use supermarket bought skins, and have experimented with a few. There are two brands (common) of supermarket shuijiao skins. One of them looks to be a Hong Kong/Cantonese type brand and the other probably more geared towards Northern Chinese/Taiwanese (based on what I've seen for sale at Marina Supermarket and Ranch 99), the latter I have an inclination towards for slightly thicker skins (again, pick the skins that say for shui jiao). Of course both probably make won ton skins too. It should go without saying that Cantonese won tons and Northern Chinese "huan duan's" are different animals altogether, although the latter was first passed down south to Canton/Guangzhou which eventually evolved (or so this author of a book I'm reading heard).

                            There appears to be a brand of skins sold at some supermarkets (try the mom and pop smaller Asian markets), that has Shan Dong in the Chinese name. One of them contains spinach, which ain't half bad assuming you get a batch that is fresh.

                            The other option is to go to Marina Supermarket, Japanese food refrig section and try their gyoza skins for shui jiao (I think the brand is called Dynasty?). It's thinner, but it's another way to enjoy it when you tire of thick skins. Some Japanese supermarkets sell an imported bag of dumpling skins. They are thin too but very tasty.

                            As far as filling goes, aim for the highest quality ground pork you can afford. All natural like from Whole Foods is excellent, although if you can get black ground pork, all the better. Making authentic stuff at home at times require you to think outside the box.

                            Kingdom of Dumplings and their other store in SF, has excellent shui jiao, maybe steamed dumplings, and xiao long bao too (though I found them to be not as fatty and thus tasty, but fairly decent and light soup inside).

                            1. re: K K

                              If you have the time instead of ground pork, you can have knife chopped pork. Better texture and taste.

                              In fact the whole process is cut the fat from the meat cna chop each by it self and then mix with chopped shrimp, spices, salt and vegetables. Then you have a filling your Grandmother would make. For me the filling makes the dumpling, even if you have ready made skins. But made from made from strach skins would be the bomb.

                              Not that I am going make it.

                              Kingdom of dumpling is just fine with me, until I have the time and desire to make from strach (not soon).

                              1. re: yimster

                                Good point. My wife, even though she thinks its too much trouble to make the wrappers, always chops the pork herself. I don't think she's ever bought ground pork.