Mantu Men

Dumplings doused with yogurt and spice

Manti in Turkey. Mantou in China. Mandu in Korea. A clear dumpling trail stretches across Asia, from the Bosphorous to the Pacific.

Pilgrims on the local dumpling trail should follow it east to Q's Halal in Alameda and the month-old Q's Falafel House in Oakland, which both serve Afghan beef-filled mantu ($10).

The mantu are blanketed first in yogurt, then with spoonfuls of tomato-vegetable stew, and decorated with bright green flecks of dried mint.

You can barely see the pyramid-shaped dumplings, with their thin, dimpled skins, under all that sauce. But you can taste them.

The dining room at Q's Falafel House

The flavor seems to crescendo with every bite: the sharp, clean tang of the yogurt and the richer acidity of the tomato stew, the high chime of the mint, then the cumin- and coriander-seasoned ground beef inside.

The mantu take a while for the kitchen to cook. The wait can seem interminable, but just remember: devouring the dumplings takes only a moment.