You may have realized that L.A. is a dumpling paradise, with an impressive array of meat and vegetable choices. But where to go? Do you want northern or southern Chinese dumplings? Korean? Fear not — the chefs at the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival have your back. Here’s where they like to go for dumplings. And just in case you want to know where they like to have a drink, we’ve got that, too.
Jet Tila, ChefJet
There are so many places! Don’t forget O.G. Chinatown, that’s all I gotta say! i have been eating dim sum at CBS Seafood since I was a little kid, with my grandmother. We live by the Red Lion. It’s old-school — my wife and I will have a drink there occasionally. We can walk there and stumble home, and that’s very important, since we don’t have to drive. That’s our neighborhood joint.
David Codney, the Peninsula
I go for dim sum at Sea Empress Seafood. It’s so very good. I like going there and being one of the few Caucasians. Jimmy, the owner, was trained in Hong Kong and the dumplings are great. There is so much great Asian food right in our backyard.
As for bars, I grew up in Cleveland, a very blue-collar, old-world vibe, and while I have moved around a lot, I still look for off-the-beaten-path bars that remind me of home and have that same unique feeling, like the Blind Barber and Freddys. One of my rock-star chefs, Kelsi Armijo, and I, along with the rest of the team, like to go there. It’s not hip or trendy, it’s unapologetic and real, you feel comfortable. A bar is so much more a place to emotionally connect versus just get drinks. Humans need that. At Blind Barber, for example, you are at the whim of the bartender, and they are tasked with the challenge of pleasing you.
Stephanie Boswell, the Peninsula
I live in Chinatown and I love Hop Woo. It’s consistent and perfect all the time. You could go in there at 2 a.m. and it’s fantastic. And to have a drink, I like the Little Easy in downtown. It’s hard to find, it’s a little bit secluded, and it doesn’t have the blasting music. It’s cool and not overwhelming, like they have a guy on acoustic guitar as the entertainment. It has a speakeasy vibe, and it’s absolutely great.
Yousef Ghalaini, Fig
My favorite place for dumplings is Din Tai Fung in Arcadia. They have a great variety of dim sum, and expert XLB — xiao long bao. Also, I love their spicy hand-pulled noodles with lots of ma la. As for my favorite bar, I love the Chestnut Club in Santa Monica. It's such a great neighborhood bar during the week. And they have an amazing collection of bourbon.
Marcel Vigneron, Wolf, Beefsteak
I cook for myself a lot. So when I order out, it’s like Postmates at 2 a.m. and it’s Crispy Pork Gang. It’s the only thing that is available at that time and it’s loaded with MSG, which is probably why I like it. For bars, I like Break Room 86, it’s one of my favorites. We usually go there after work, sing karaoke and kinda unwind.
Alvin Cailan, Unit 120, Eggslut, Easy’s Burgers, Amboy
My favorite dumpling place is Myung Dong Kyoja. Delicious Korean dumplings. Open late and has zero pretense. It's delicious, the filling is pork and other unidentified deliciousness. I love going there late at night. One order of dumplings comes with 20 pieces, and I usually get a Korean chicken noodle soup and a Coke with it. My favorite bar is ERB, hands down. Everson Royce Bar, the best bar in L.A. Ultra-talented bartenders, their servers are helpful and they are very customer-forward. The food is delicious and fun. The ambiance is perfect; they nail everything L.A. loves for a social night out, plus it’s a great patio and perfectly lit bar.
Bruce Kalman, Union and Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market
Din Tai Fung is world-renowned for its dumplings and noodles, and you can't get better dumplings than theirs. The texture is perfect and won't break until you bite into them. The pork and shrimp dumplings are two of my favorites. I don’t go out to bars as much anymore, but I do love Bar Marmont and also the Den on Sunset. Bar Marmont has a lounge atmosphere with great people-watching, located at the hotel Chateau Marmont. The Den has a fun patio with firepits along with tasty craft cocktails and comfort food.
Fernando Darin, Ray's and Stark Bar
I love ROC on Sawtelle — they have delicious dumplings. ROC is my go-to whenever I'm in the mood. They have a good selection of hand-crafted dumplings and their scallion pancakes are killer. The soup dumplings are a must-try! My favorite bar is called the Varnish, in downtown L.A. — they have the best cocktails in the city. The Varnish has great ambiance, service and cocktails executed to perfection. I love their attention to detail and minimalist decor.
Dakota Weiss, Estrella
My favorite place for dumplings is Peking Tavern off of Spring Street. They make all of them from scratch, from the dough to the fillings. They are crazy fresh and so unbelievably delicious. I really love the Varnish. Classic, straightforward cocktails. Great vibe and very intimate there. It’s a pretty classic look as far as decor goes. They keep it very simple. The best time to be there is when they have a guy playing the piano. It really feels like you have been transported to the '20s. I have been a downtown resident for nearly six years and the fact that it is just a couple of blocks from my house makes it very easy to get to — I never have to deal with driving and parking!
Nakul Mahendro, Badmaash
There are dumpling snobs. I am a dumpling lover. If it’s doughy and kinda dry, I am loving it. And if it’s super thin and well packaged, I’m super loving it. When we first moved here, we lived in Irvine and we found a great place there, Capital Seafood. In all of L.A., my favorite bar is downtown, the Continental Club at Main. If you don’t know it, you would probably walk by it. If you do know it, you would probably find me and my friends drinking there. It’s a great bar with wonderful cocktails — you don’t have to wait so long for it. They have a fun time and there is zero pretense.