The Best Dumplings in Toronto
The best dumplings in Toronto aren't found, necessarily, in the finest restaurants or in the most obvious of places. Dumpling connoisseurs seem quite happy to descend into underground holes and frequent desolate Markham strip malls to experience some of the best doughy pockets in the city.
A Chinese specialty and cheap eats staple, dumplings can usually be ordered steamed or pan-fried. The shapes vary, but somehow they all manage to resemble strange and beautiful sea creatures with their translucent skins (a thin, stretchy dough) and visible inner organs (minced meat, veggies, egg etc.).
My suburban early childhood admittedly left me closed-minded to Chinese cuisine, after too much greasy Americanized take-out, frozen egg rolls and VH plum sauce. I formed a sweeping (and unfair) dislike for Chinese food, even after I escaped the suburbs. Years later, I experienced authentic Hot and Sour soup on a bad date (the only good memory from the evening). Next came dim sum, then dumplings and after that I was hooked.
Here's a list of the seven best dumplings in Toronto as voted by readers of this site.
See also: Rats Feast at Dumpling House
Since re-locating from Huron St., Mother's Dumplings hasn't missed a beat. The new Spadina location encompasses all of the best parts of Chinatown - the vibrancy of red paper lanterns, the energetic bustle and the mingling yummy smells. Just before noon, six kitchen staffers prepare dumplings by hand in the open kitchen. Boiled, steamed or pan-fried, Mother’s dumplings are available in 10 to 24-piece orders. More »
Located in one of an endless line of strip malls on Midland Avenue in Scarborough, The Dumpling King earns low marks for ambiance. The scuzzy fluorescent-lit space with disinterested staff certainly kill the appeal. But the dumplings don't disappoint. The menu is literally 200 items long, too, including 25 varieties of dumplings and pot-stickers. More »
Another strip mall location, (this time in Markham) Ding Tai Fung makes more of an effort to be inviting. The layout is a little too open for my liking, and not ideal for dates whatsoever, but the staff is pleasant, attentive and quick. Dumpling here don't skimp on the filling - all are plump and hearty. Try the Hot and Sour soup, too. More »
A good bet for take-out, this teeny suburban Chinese resto gets high marks for efficiency, even if the customer service could use some work. The interior, while small, is tidy and actually has decent lunch-hour ambiance. The dumplings are smaller than average, but $4.99 buys you a whopping order of 15! Try the leek and egg variety. More »
Entering this lower level eatery feels like walking into a cold-storage unit through a thick plastic curtain. Employees hand-stretch noodles just inside the front entry, literally in the way of the door. This is how you know the food is fresh. And the dumplings? They're just as good as any on this list (and super cheap!), and owner Linda is wonderfully accommodating. Try the vegetarian Shao Mai, and definitely add a spicy bean curd soup for $1.99. More »
Kensington vegetarian locale King’s Cafe serves up traditional Asian fusion with a healthy spin. Dishes, including veggie and mushroom dumplings are prepared with natural ingredients and without preservatives or chemicals. Dumplings are boiled or pan-fried, served with a ginger dipping sauce. King’s is a tranquil spa-like space set in the middle of market chaos. More »
Asian Legend has six locations in the GTA including one on Dundas just east of Spadina. Here they hand-prepare some of the most aesthetically lovely dumplings I’ve seen in the city. Steamed soup-filled dumplings are a favourite, featuring dried scallops, pork and luffa in a gorgeous green-hued dough. This flagship location is a pristine space with intimate private rooms perfect for a shared meal among friends. More »