There's no better example of culinary alchemy than the dumpling. Take some tasty filling, wrap it in simple pasta and something magical happens while it steams, boils or fries. Dumplings are known by many names -- wonton, kreplach, gyoza, shumai, ravioli, manti, mandu, pierogi, aushak, har gow, xiao long bao -- but in any language, they translate into great eating.
Pan-fried pork-shrimp-chive dumplings at Zouji Dumpling House
Pan-fried pork-shrimp-chive dumplings at Zouji Dumpling House, Glen Cove: You can't go wrong with anything pork based at this eatery, which specializes in Northern Chinese cuisine. That includes the pan-fried pork-shrimp-chive dumplings. The kitchen, however, is equally skilled at boiling and pan-frying.
Mantu dumplings at Kandahar Grill
Mantu dumplings at Kandahar Grill , Hicksville: Mantu is a testament to a peaceful merging of Asian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern influences, aka more than a thousand years of Afghan history in dumpling form. Impressive on their own, the dumplings here make a bolder, more colorful statement when double-drizzled with sauces — one chickpea-and-tomato, the other yogurt-and-dill — and sprinkled with dried mint.
Crystal-shrimp dumplings at Long Island Pekin
Crystal-shrimp dumplings at Long Island Pekin, Babylon: Start your meal at Long Island Pekin with the classic steamed crystal-shrimp dumplings. Also worth trying? Pan-seared pork-cabbage-chive dumplings, fat little bruisers that can barely contain their filling.
Pork and scallion dumplings at 365 Noodle Bar and Grill
Pork and scallion dumplings at 365 Noodle Bar and Grill, Hicksville: Satisfying pork and scallion dumplings are available both pan fried and steamed at this Chinese restaurant focused on the casual eats of Beijing.
Seafood dumplings at Yum Yum Dumplings
Seafood dumplings at Yum Yum Dumplings, Centereach: Delicate seafood dumplings are stuffed with shrimp, pork and chives at this affordable eatery.
Momo at Everest Himalayan Cuisine
Momo at Everest Himalayan Cuisine, Bellmore: Each savory, meat-filled momo at Everest Himalayan Cuisine is round and exquisitely pleated into a central topknot; the vegetable momos, filled with greens, mushrooms, cashews, fresh paneer cheese and seasonings, are crimped into a more familiar crescent shape. All are served with a chili sauce with a sesame-tomato base that lends a mellowness to balance the spice.
Pork pot stickers at Merrick Sea
Pork pot stickers at Merrick Sea, Merrick: Start your meal at Merrick Sea with the pork pot stickers, plump dumplings that are first steamed tender and then seared, hard, to produce one crusty facet.
Pan-fried leek dumplings at Grain House
Pan-fried leek dumplings at Grain House, Uniondale: Pan-fried leek dumplings are filled with chopped flat chives, bits of scrambled egg and strands of vermicelli noodles at this Chinese spot near Hofstra University.
Steamed BBQ eel dumplings at Saaho Village
Steamed BBQ eel dumplings at Saaho Village, Great Neck: In this winning dumpling, barbecued eel and chayote (also known, in Cantonese, as Buddha's hand melon) are felicitously paired inside neatly pleated bundles.
Steamed shrimp dumplings at ToA Asian Fusion
Steamed shrimp dumplings at ToA Asian Fusion, Farmingdale: These savory shrimp dumplings are worth ordering.
Korean Mandu at Surasang
Korean Mandu at Surasang, Syosset: These savory little Korean dumplings are the essence of comfort. They're stuffed with a mixture of ground beef and vegetables and may be ordered steamed or fried. Get them on a plate, accompanied by a soy-based dipping sauce, or floating in a meal-size bowl of beef soup.
Chinese soup dumplings at Red Tiger Dumpling House
Chinese soup dumplings at Red Tiger Dumpling House, Stony Brook: Hard to come by on Long Island, soup dumplings (also called soup buns or, in their native Shanghai, xiao long bao) are a signature item at this dumpling specialist. Place one of these handmade dough packets on a spoon, bite off its tip, sip off the rich soup, then devour the savory pork or pork-and-crab filling, along with the wrapper. So delicious.
Manto at Kebab House
Manto at Kebab House, Hicksville: Manto, refined, four-cornered steamed beef dumplings, is drizzled with tomato and yogurt sauces at this eatery.
Pork and leek fried dumplings at China Station
Pork and leek fried dumplings at China Station, Stony Brook: Pork and leek fried dumplings are satisfying as a shared starter or an individual meal at this authentic Chinese eatery.
Japanese Gyoza at Koiso
Japanese Gyoza at Koiso, Carle Place: Most Japanese restaurants resort to frozen when it comes to the gyoza -- pot-sticker dumplings that are first fried crisp on one side, then steamed to tender doneness. At Koiso, co-owner Kyoko Mitsumori makes these succulent pork-and-cabbage-stuffed bruisers according to an old family recipe. Also try the homemade shrimp-crab shumai.
Afghani Aushak at Kabul Afghan Cuisine
Afghani Aushak at Kabul Afghan Cuisine, Huntington: These tender triangular Afghani dumplings start with house-made dough. Inside goes a mix of leeks and scallions. Then the dumplings are boiled and topped with a meat sauce, house-made garlic yogurt and chopped mint. They can become quite habit forming.
Chinese Crystal shrimp dumplings at Fortune Wheel
Chinese Crystal shrimp dumplings at Fortune Wheel, Levittown: One of the standouts in the big selection served during dim sum, crystal shrimp dumplings are light, savory mouthfuls. You also may want to try the steamed pork shumai and the roast pork turnovers.
Asian vegetable dumplings at Monsoon
Asian vegetable dumplings at Monsoon, Babylon: Subtle, flavorful, delicious Chinese har gow-style dumplings, made with carrot, oyster mushrooms, turnip, scallion and garlic, arrive with light sesame-soy sauce. Also consider chef Michael Wilson's elegant, excellent edamame dumplings, made with soybeans and English pea cream, served with mushroom-sake broth.
Turkish Manti at Ephesus Mediterranean
Turkish Manti at Ephesus Mediterranean, Massapequa Park: According to chef and co-owner Funda Duygun, the most gifted Turkish manti masters are able to make dumplings so small that 40 of them will fit in one spoon. Duygun likes them a little bigger, so you can really taste the savory beef filling. At Ephesus, an appetizer plate holds 60 little darlings, topped with garlic-infused yogurt, paprika butter and dried mint.
Jewish Kreplach at Zan's Kosher Delicatessen
Jewish Kreplach at Zan's Kosher Delicatessen, Lake Grove: Kreplach, traditional Jewish dumplings, are jumbo-size here; a solitary dumpling fills a bowl of chicken soup. The dough -- similar to wonton skin -- is handmade and rolled out as thin as possible. Inside is a simple ground beef filling reminiscent of what Bubby would make. To avoid mushiness, the kreplach is boiled, then added to the soup at the last moment.