Although every culture has its own take on the beloved dumpling (hello, gyoza, pierogi, mandu, ravioli, and empanadas!), they’ve always been a distinctive hallmark of Chinese fare. Eaten year round and on most special occasions, dumplings take on even more significance for Lunar New Year. Their shape, which resembles an ancient form of money, is a symbol of wealth and prosperity in China. The Chinese word for dumplings, jiaozi, even sounds similar to a phrase that means you’re bidding farewell to the old and welcoming the new. So eating these delicious savory pockets is far more than just a feast for your stomach—it’s symbolic of a fresh start and good fortune in the year to come.
While jiaozi covers a broad range of dumplings in the Chinese repertoire, within that category lies a dizzying array of doughy delicacies: classic Cantonese hargow, fluffy shengjianbao hailing from Shanghai, slippery Sichuan chaoshou. They’re steamed, boiled, fried, or occasionally a combination of the above. Sometimes they’re referred to by a name in Mandarin, Cantonese, or another dialect, or identified by romanized spelling that can vary depending on who you ask! But no matter how they’re served (or spelled), these delectable meat- and veggie-filled pockets have delighted us for thousands of years—and will continue to do so.
To help you navigate the universe of dumplings just in time for Lunar New Year, we’re taking you on a guided tour through the San Gabriel Valley—a mecca for Chinese cuisine thanks to a significant (and steadily growing) Asian and Asian-American population Read on for 15 must-try renditions..
Check out the full Thrillist article with all 15 restaurants, click here!