With Chinese New Year taking place on Jan. 23, I seem to have Asian dumplings on the brain. From pot stickers to shu mai, there is a variety from which to choose. My favorites feature distinctive fillings and inventive flavor combinations.
Full Kee's 'Shark Fin' Dumplings
When I make it to Full Kee for dim sum, these dumplings are on my must-eat list. Filled with shrimp, pork, black mushrooms and cilantro, they are perfectly steamed and full of savory flavor, plus afterward I can brag to my foodie friends about my exotic eating adventure. 6400 Horsepen Road, 673-2233.
The Water Grill's Lobster and Shrimp Pot Stickers
The seafood-focused filling makes for a light, enjoyable flavor that perfectly preps my appetite for the main course to come. These dumplings are lightly pan-fried, which adds a nice layer of texture, and the citrus-soy dipping sauce pulls the dish together. Bonus: If you go on Tuesday Lobster Night, they are $2 off. 3411 W. Cary St., 353-3411.
Thai Diner Too's Pot Stickers
These traditional bite-size chicken and shrimp dumplings arrive at the table enrobed in a delicious red curry sauce. Once I've finished the actual dumplings, I try desperately not to drink all the remaining sweet-spicy sauce with an addicting note of coconut milk, but I often fail. 3028 W. Cary St., 353-9514.
Crazy Dumplings at Fanhouse
The famous combination of beef, shrimp, scallions and top-secret ingredients that inspired owner Sunny Zhao to open Fanhouse is a flavor-filled starter. A generous portion comes steamed to perfection with a savory dipping sauce. 2526
Floyd Ave., 612-8888.
Spicy Mini Dumplings at Osaka Sushi and Steak
These steamed pork dumplings come bathed in a zesty sauce made with garlic, soy sauce, mirin and other flavor-packed Asian ingredients, then drizzled with hot sauce. The layers of flavors explode in my mouth, making me constantly crave another bite. 5023 Huguenot Road, 288-8801 or 11674 W. Broad St., 364-8800.