Hot Pockets

Our favorite Asian dumplings in L.A.

L.A. has no shortage of humble dumplings. Gyoza, mandoo, xiao long bao or potstickers: Call 'em by any name, they're comfort food found in every pocket of this town.

From the San Gabriel Valley to the Westside, we've rounded up our top Asian dumpling nibbles.

① Din Tai Fung in Arcadia and Glendale
Every soup dumpling (xiao long bao; $9 for 10 pieces) bitten, slurped and chewed in this town is measured against this Taiwanese import's. Juicy bursts of pork (and crab, if you choose) are skillfully wrapped into thin-skinned packets. It's hard to beat L.A.'s gold standard, and the proof is in the long queues outside the two Arcadia outposts and the newer Glendale shop.

② ROC in Sawtelle

ROC fills the Westsiders' soup-dumpling-shaped void. The XLB ($8 to $12.50 for eight pieces) at ROC is as good as the SGV's. Sit down to steaming trays of soup-filled pouches stuffed with not-so-traditional choices, from lobster and pork to crab and chicken. You'll never have to trek east of the 405 again.

③ Daikokuya in Little Tokyo and Sawtelle

Ramen fanatics, be damned. Pass on the noodles and order the gyoza ($5.95 for 5 pieces), which are easily worthy of the trip (and wait). The oil-slicked, pan-fried dumplings are filled with juicy bites of pork and generously topped with sliced scallions.

④ Hui Tou Xiang in San Gabriel

Break from the usual steamed options for the modest shop's namesake dumplings ($6.95 for 8 pieces). The dumplings are filled with beef or pork and fried on each side. The result: brown-crusted rectangles that are as juicy as they are crispy.

⑤ Luscious Dumplings in San Gabriel and Monrovia

Right next door to Hui Tou Xiang there's a more recognizable dumpling: little half moons crimped at the seams and served steamed or pan-fried ($6.50 to $7 for 10 pieces). The pork filling can be mixed with everything from sole and Napa cabbage to egg, chive and shrimp-mixed, which sell out by mid-day.

⑥ Myung In Dumplings in Koreatown and Garden Grove

Though mandoo refers to differently shaped and sized Korean dumplings, the cylindrical shrimp- and pork-filled variety ($9 for 10 pieces) is the way to go here. The thick rolls are made and steamed to order, then served with accoutrements like red chile paste and soy- and jalapeño-marinated radish slices.

⑦ Seafood Harbour in Rosemead 

The restaurant makes good on its name with delicately folded shrimp har gow and, better yet, shrimp and chive dumplings ($4.38 for 4 pieces). The trio of translucent-skinned packets is as delicate as it is packed with flavor—whole shrimp and chopped chives melding in a sweet, savory harmony.

 Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park

Angelenos wax poetic about weekend dim sum, but equally argue the virtues of one yum cha house over another. The favorite stand-by, Elite, delivers on its dim sum offerings, including the quintessential shu mai ($3.38 for 4 pieces). The open-topped dumplings, however, are anything but ordinary: The packed pockets are filled with pork and scallop and sprinkled with bright orange fish roe.

⑨ Pingtung in Fairfax

Pingtung seems like an unlikely destination for dumplings, hidden among the Melrose Avenue boutiques and—gasp—not in the SGV. Go for the crystal shrimp dumplings served plain like traditional har gow ($5.95 for four pieces) or spiced with cayenne and bamboo shoots ($5.95 for three pieces) and flattened into moon-shaped parcels. The flavors are new-school but the authenticity is spot-on.