Dear Mr. Gold:
I'd like to do a tour of the world's cuisines through dumplings. Xiao long bao [Chinese soup dumplings] may be my favorite food on Earth, but one does not live by XLB alone. So far I've got momo, gyoza, shui jiao, samosa and piroshki on the list, even though the latter two are perhaps not quite dumplings. Are there any others that are well represented in Los Angeles, and where would you go for any of the above? Also: Do mantee count?
--Celia Adelson, via Facebook
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Yours is a strenuous question. If universities gave Ph.D.s in Los Angeles restaurant menus, it is the sort of thing that might show up on the oral exam. I am imagining six years as an ABD in Dumpling Science, and my fear smells a lot like goose noodle soup. Or is that what's simmering downstairs on the stove?
Anyway: My favorite XLB are probably at Mei Long Village in San Gabriel, with Din Tai Fung a close runner-up, with maybe a sniff from Dean Sin World and Golden Shanghai. Momo, the bao-like Tibetan dumplings -- that'd be the Tibet-Nepal House in Pasadena. You can even get them stuffed with yak there. I'm not sure what kind of shui jiao, Northern-style boiled dumplings, you have in mind, but the boiled dumplings at 101 Noodle Express are kind of good, especially the one with pumpkin and shrimp. I do not, I fear, have a favorite samosa, so let's go with the Burmese samusa at Golden Triangle. (Actually, I'll take that back: The samosas at Samosa House in Culver City and Mumbai Ki Gallyeon Se in Artesia are delicious.) For cheese-and-potato pierogi, go to Warszawa in Santa Monica, where they are justly renowned.
You probably should include the Hong Kong-style wonton at Noodle Boy, the Korean mandoo at Ddo Wa and a dozen other places, the Russian pelmeni at Traktir, the Afghan aushak at Azeen's, the kreplach at Brent's Delicatessen and the capelletti in brodo at Il Moro, as well as probably hundreds of others.
And yes: Mantee count. Score one for the Armenians! Find them at Mantee.