Cleverly accessed by kitchens across the city for each steamy, delicious membrane’s ability to encompass cuisines from all the world over, dumplings represent an extremely versatile (if humble) format that makes them apt metaphors for Toronto’s cultural diversity, and a comfort symbol everyone can recognize.
We tracked down some of the city’s best.
Welcome home. With a name like Mother’s Dumplings, it’s hard to imagine a warmer space. This Chinatown staple (and its newer Greektown fixture) lives up to expectations with heirloom recipes from Beijing and northeast China that chef Zhen brings to life with fresh, affordable, and delicious boiled and steamed (whole wheat) envelopes of reprieve.
“The world is your dumpling” at this internationally inspired, artisanal kitchen from “nomad” chef Bashir Munye. Here you’ll find dumplings packed with seasonal organic ingredients from local farms, bringing recipes fusing ideas from African, Asian, Caribbean, and Mediterranean cuisines to life on menus that change daily. And in light of a recent crowdfunding effort, you’ll be able to track them down a little bit easier; after years touring the local farmers’ markets, the kitchen just established its first bricks and mortar location in Leslieville.
Operating at the base of the Soho Metropolitan Hotel, Luckee, the all-day dim-sum spot from celebrated chef Susur Lee (also the chef and owner of Toronto restaurants Lee and Bent), built a name for itself blending food traditions and inspiration from throughout China and Singapore with classical French technique and pairing wisdom. Here, that plays out in inventive dumpling dishes like the lobster and asparagus long xia gow and the steamed spinach and Chinese celery dumplings with mushrooms, jicama, and preserved olive vegetables.
Buca offers a couple of unique gnucco fritto dumpling options between its restaurant locations (dumplings not available at Bar Buca). They serve hollow squid ink purses that arrive next to a spicy tuna n’duja paste to be added according to your own desires in Yorkville, while its King Street spot delivers crisp Tuscan spiced dumplings with pancetta.
Literally putting Toronto on the map with its nod to the city’s latitudinal placement, chef Mark McEwan’s North 44º has been serving international diners for more than 20 years. It is on the pricier side, but that plays out in a list of irresistible gourmet offerings. In the realm of dumplings, that means sautéed seasonal mushrooms lean against an island of hand rolled gnocchi nuggets lazing in a pool of white wine reggiano cream, all completed with some truffle essence and sage.
The dumpling offerings on hand at chef/owner Ayse Aydemir’s traditional Turkish restaurant in Etobicoke are limited to a single manti dish consisting of miniature ravioli-style morsels. These fresh made pockets of beef decorated with garlicky yogurt, mint, hot melty butter, and paprika will keep you coming back.
Dumplings are wombs of endless potential at Adam Dolley and Bryan Burke’s Loaded Pierogi. They outsource handmade potato and onion dumplings to a local Polish family and imaginatively stuff them with all manner of ingredients. From duck confit and sautéed cherry tomatoes to kimchi, and dessert fillings like strawberry compote and chocolate crumble.
(Photo by Luckee Restaurant)