I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I absolutely adore dumplings. I mean, what’s not to love? They’re basically small parcels of happiness, each containing wondrous filling. And they’re extremely versatile: you can have them boiled, deep-fried, pan-fried, steamed, etc. Because they’re relatively easy to make, places selling dumplings are a dime a dozen – but they might not always be up to par. Gyoza for Life, though, has proven itself a winner.
I stumbled across their Instagram shop by chance, and since I had a hankering for dumplings, the timing couldn’t have been better. At the time, they were offering four flavours: Original (pork and chives), Mala (spicy), and the rather unconventional Bak Kut Teh (herbal soup) and Japanese Curry. Intrigued, I ordered two packets of BKT, which were delivered a couple of days later via courier.
What can I say? I really enjoyed the dumplings. I pan fried them, and they turned out nice and crisp on the outside, and the meat still retained its moist juiciness on the inside. The bak kut teh flavour was mild, with a tangy, herby aftertaste. I’ve eaten lots of dumplings, and I think Gyoza For Life has one of the best dumpling skins I’ve tasted. It’s not flour-y, and it has the perfect thickness, so that you get just the right amount of crispness/chewiness, depending on how you’ve cooked them.
The second time around, I tried out their Japanese Curry gyozas. Again, these did not disappoint. Consistent quality! Personally, I prefer this flavour over BKT (they’re both good, though), but that’s because I like the mild and gentle sweetness of the Japanese curry flavour, which seems to spread around the inside of your mouth as you chew.
Another thing of note are the portions. Each dumpling has a uniform size, which makes them easier to cook evenly, and they’re neither too big nor small. In fact, six pieces might be sufficient for a small eater, so you can portion out your order over a few meals. Me being me, of course, would rather go through an entire box (12 pieces) in one go.
My lunch of Japanese Curry gyozas with… curry. 😀
So if you love gyozas, give Gyoza for Life a try! You’ll be supporting a homegrown business, but more than that, their gyozas are really tasty, they’re handmade with love, and the prices are extremely reasonable (each box of 12 are priced between RM14 to RM18). They’ve recently added a new flavour to their menu, namely the Sawadee Kra Pao, so I might try that next.
You can order here. They offer free delivery to selected areas within the Klang Valley.
PS: This is not a sponsored post, I just really like their gyozas.
PS 2: If you like my blog, please consider supporting it via my Patreon, or by buying me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.
The humble yet versatile dumpling is beloved all over the world in its many forms, shapes and flavours. In some parts of the world, such as China, it is an ancient cuisine that has been around for thousands of years.
I absolutely love dumplings and can eat them every day. But unlike many other Chinese households that consider dumplings a staple, my family does not make them often – so I only get to eat dumplings when dining out at restaurants, or if I make them myself. My favourite type is the guotie, known in the West as pot stickers (guotie literally translates to pot stick), but I also like wontons, siumai and Japanese gyoza. Dumplings is a blanket term, but each of these has its own specialty, from the cooking method to ingredients – so I thought it’d be fun to do a list of the different types of dumplings you can find around the world.
Since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I’ve only listed savoury dumplings:
With a history dating back close to two millennia, dumplings are inseparable from Chinese cuisine. One of the most common types that we can find today is jiaozi, which typically consists of minced meat (usually pork, but sometimes chicken, beef or shrimp) and chopped vegetables (cabbage, spring onions, chives) wrapped in a piece of dough skin (the thickness varies). Boiled jiaozi is called suijiao, while steamed ones are called zhengjiao and fried ones (my fave!) guotie. Jiaozi is often eaten on festive occasions such as the eve of Chinese New Year or the Winters’ Solstice Festival, and family members spend time bonding while preparing the dumplings together.
While wontons are also a Chinese dumpling, they are better known by their Cantonese name rather than the Mandarin, hun dun. My theory is that early immigrants to Western countries were mostly from Cantonese communities, and the popularity of the dish solidified its name among Westerners. Even here in Malaysia, we call it wantan rather than by the Mandarin name. While jiaozi wrappers are usually round in shape, wonton wrappers are square, resulting in a smaller, more rounded dumpling. It can be boiled in a soup, or deep-fried. Fun fact: the name wonton literally means ‘cloud swallow’!
There are actually different types of shumai, which differ according to region, but the one that is best known across the world is the Cantonese shumai, which is also the type often served at dim sum restaurants. This version typically features pork and/or shrimp with mushroom, wrapped with a thin, almost translucent wrapper made from lye water dough that has a slightly sweet taste. To quote the anime Cooking Master Boy, jiaozis are akin to a bag that protectively envelops its contents, whereas shumai is more like a soft, silk scarf that gently wraps itself around the meat (anyone remember the Dumpling Brothers episode?) Shumais are steamed, although they can sometimes be fried. Here in Malaysia, they are served in dimsum restos, coffeeshops and even food trucks. In Malaysia, it is best eaten with our local Kampung Koh chilli sauce.
Xiao Loong Bao (CHINA)
In recent years, xiao loong bao has seen a massive boost in popularity thanks to chain restaurants like Din Tai Fung. They are so called because they are traditionally prepared in small bamboo baskets (xiao loong), while bao is the generic word for bun or dumpling. Xiao loong bao is often associated with Shanghainese cuisine. They are also called soup dumplings, and some variants have crab meat instead of pork, as well as other fillings. When I was younger (before the wonders of the Internet and google), I often wondered how they managed to fill up the dumplings with soup. This is actually done by wrapping a gelatin-like aspic (jelly made with meat stock) together with the filling. When steamed, the aspic melts, resulting in soup. The best way to eat xiao loong bao is to poke a hole so that you can slurp up the soup, before dipping the rest of the dumpling into vinegar and ginger slices. More innovative, modern creations include flavours such as truffle, garlic and even cheese.
Mandu was believed to have been brought to the Korean peninsula by Mongols, and has been part of Korean royal court cuisine for centuries. They can be steamed, boiled or fried – styles vary across the region. Like jiaozi, which has different names according to how you prepare them, grilled or fried dumplings are called gun-mandu, while steamed ones are called jjin-mandu and boiled ones mul-mandu. Though they are quite similar in appearance to jiaozi, mandu‘s ingredients differ, as it uses kimchi (of course), tofu and cellophane noodles along with meat and vegetables.
Inspired by the Chinese jiaozi, gyoza is the Japanese version which has a thinner skin and more finely chopped ingredients. It often includes garlic, which is less common in China (the Chinese use garlic as a condiment or in the dipping sauce). Gyoza is typically pan fried. Some places add slurry so a beautiful crust forms around the gyoza pieces.
Momo (SOUTH ASIA – NEPAL, TIBET AND PARTS OF INDIA)
While similar in appearance to East Asian dumplings like the mandu and gyoza, momo is distinct for its ingredients, which are heavily influenced by the region and features lots of spices and herbs. They are usually steamed or fried. Ground meat is used (although there are also vegetarian versions), along with vegetables like chayote, cabbage, potato and flat-beans, tofu, local cheeses like paneer and chhurpi, as well as spices like garlic, ginger, cilantro, coriander and onions. Nepalese momo often uses meat such as mutton or buffalo, while in the Himalayan regions, herd animals such as yak and lamb are also popular.
Manti (CENTRAL ASIA)
Manti is a type of dumpling popular in Turkic cuisine, and since the region is vast (covering not just central Asia but also parts of Russia and the Balkans), there are many different ways of making them. The manti in central Asia is usually larger in size and steamed in dedicated pots. Due to the nomadic culture of the region, meat from animals such as beef, horse, lamb and goat are often used. The Ughyurs of northern China and Kazakhstan prepare manti with spices like black pepper, plus pumpkin or squash, and the dumplings are then served with butter, sour cream or onion and garlic sauce.
Some European ‘dumplings’ do not look like the ones found in Asia, such as Central Europe’s Knodel (pictured), dumplings made from flour, bread or potatoes, which resemble meat balls or bread balls. While it’s generally referred to as pasta, ravioli apparently fits the definition of a dumpling. Sheets of pasta are rolled out to make pockets which are filled with ingredients such as meat, seafood, mushrooms, spinach and cheese. The ravioli is then cooked and served with sauces or on its own. The Maultaschen of Germany is a similar dish.
Then again, you do get types that look more like the traditional ‘dumplings’ of Asia, such as the Polish pierogi (pictured – dough wrapped around sweet or savoury fillings like potato, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese and fruits), the Ukrainian uszka (ground meat and wild mushrooms) and the Russian pelmeni (minced meat and spices).
What are the different types of dumplings available in your country, and which are your favourites? I’d love to hear more about them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
I was blog surfing recently when I came across an entry on Mak’s Chee, a new outlet in 1Utama Shopping Mall selling ‘authentic’ Hong Kong-style wontons and wonton noodles. They were having a limited time only promotion for new snacks; namely cheese-stuffed deep fried wontons and Muscular Man Milktea. The pictures looked so inviting that I decided to hop on over (despite the evening traffic!) and try it for myself.
The restaurant is spacious and divided into several sections. At the front, guests can watch the chefs in action through glass panels. I liked how they made a little nook where single diners can be seated at their own private tables – basically tall wooden ‘cupboards’ that separates each diner. You will often find similar setups in HK-style char chan tengs, where a table faces the wall instead of having another seat across from it. This solves the problem of one person dominating a table for four.
A breakdown of each bowl of noodles, ingredients and specialty.
The brand’s history can be traced back to 1920s Guangzhou, China, from one Master Mak Woon Chee. Wanting to do something different from the usual pork wontons, he came up with his own recipe for fresh shrimp dumplings. His signature was so popular it attracted notable figures such as former leader of the Republic of China Chiang Kai Shek and his wife, First Lady Soong Mei-Ling.
In the 30s, the Mak family moved to Hong Kong and Chee’s son, Mak En. carried on his father’s legacy. After many years, the recipe was passed down to his lineal descendant, who founded Mak’s Chee Authentic Wonton Malaysia today.
Available for a limited time only (until February 28 2017), the ChampionMilktea (RM6) is a rich, strong and creamy brew in a buff man-shaped bottle. I like that it’s not too sweet; almost with a coffee-like hint. Comes served in a bucket of ice to keep it cold. You can also take the unique bottle home !
Of course, my main mission today: Cheesy Wontons. You can order 6 pieces or 12 pieces. The beautiful golden parcels come served in a small basket with a sweet chilli dip. Each wonton is quite sizable, with crispy skin wrapped around fresh, bouncy sea prawn and melty Mozarella and Cheddar cheese. Too many places skimp on their cheese, so I was happy that they stuffed a generous amount into these. The cheese won’t be as melty after some time, so it’s best to eat it hot.
Since their signature is wonton noodles, I got a small bowl (RM12.90) to try. The noodles were finer than the local version, thin and springy with an al dente bite. Soup was flavourful, and the wontons were juicy and fresh. I think I’ve found my favourite wonton noodle place!
Lot LG311D, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, 1 Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama City Centre, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Much hype has surrounded the recent opening of Din Tai Fung in Manila’s SM Megamall. The Taiwanese chain has several outlets in Malaysia, where they serve excellent soup dumplings (xiao loong bao), so I was excited to see if the quality was up to par here. I found it somehow… lacking. It wasn’t that they weren’t good. Tender minced pork and melted gelatin forming a savoury broth was encased within thin and translucent wrappers, each with 18 perfect folds. What I can say it, it wasn’t the best Din Tai Fung I’ve had.. and they lose out to the unconventional (but deliciously addictive) versions at Paradise Dynasty (which I heard has also newly opened in Manila!)
For something more substantial, there’s Braised Beef Noodle Soup. Opted for half meat/half tendon. The meat was tender and juicy, but tendon wasn’t so great coz it felt extremely fatty (as was the soup, although it was packed with flavour). The noodles were good though, with an al-dente bite to them.
Shrimp and pork wanton soup was bland; had to dip everything in soy sauce. I’m not sure is it because being from Malaysia, I’m used to very strong flavours. But then I feel like Filipinos like pungent stuff too so idk what the reasoning is for this lack of flavour. ._.
Say what I will, the place was full of patrons. Expect higher end prices. Service was excellent and attentive.
DIN TAI FUNG
SM Megamall Building B, St Francis, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines
It’s not often I get up early on a weekend when I can sleep in, but when I do, I like to go for morning dimsum. Bandar Puteri is a hotspot for dimsum restaurants, but the fam and I always go to the same few ones. This time around, Mi and I decided to try one called You Ai DimSum.
Back in the days, dimsum sessions started as early as 6am – but obviously with lifestyle changes, this is no longer the case. It was 8am on a Saturday morning, and most of the shops were still empty. They only start getting busy at 10am.
The resto was cosy, air conditioned and clean. Instead of the traditional way of having dimsum on pushcarts, diners put down their orders on a slip and have it served to their table.
Immediately went for my dimsum must-haves, namely: deep fried shrimp beancurd roll. Served with mayonnaise, the crispy beancurd sheets are wrapped around juicy, succulent prawns. The version here was done well and not too oily.
The hargau (shrimp dumplings) was a tad disappointing. The flour skin was thin but a bit too sticky and dry for our liking. Shrimp was sizable and juicy though.
Siew loong bao (Shanghainese meat dumplings) was also disappointing. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. What I did like about it was that they served the dumplings in little aluminium ‘bowls’ which prevented the broth from leaking.
Mi had some cheese tarts as well as shrimp chee cheong fun (didn’t manage to take a picture coz we were rushing for an appointment and she had already tucked in lol).
The bill came up to RM30.
Overall, quality of food was so-so, but service was really good compared to the nightmare that is Zok Noodle House down the road (especially when their boss isn’t around!). Among the many dimsum restos in Bandar Puteri, I still think that Taijiand Foo Hing is the best.
YOU AI DIM SUM
31G, Jalan Puteri 2/5, Bandar Puteri Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia.
I’d like to say a big thank you to the creator of the siew loong bao(or mini dragon buns). If you hadn’t made them, the world would never know of these delectable soup dumplings! Said to have originated from the Nanxiang region in China, making a siew loong bao involves putting in gelatin on the inside of a silky dumpling wrapper together with tender minced meat. The gelatin melts into a savoury broth during the steaming process. One eats it by poking a hole in the skin, sucking out the soup, before slurping down the thing whole. Ah, pure bliss.
Paradise Dynasty@ Paradigm Mall in Kelana Jaya specialises in these bite-sized pieces of heaven, albeit at a price. What makes the version here special is their 8-flavours siew loong bao, infused with various ingredients. I’ve only been here twice before, but the quality has remained consistent both times. This time around, it was a New Year’s Eve dinner with Mabel and Jo.
Dark but cosy interior, with Eastern elements including a giant Buddha that watches over patrons having a meal.
Appetisers: steamed peanuts and woodear fungus in a garlic dressing. The woodear fungus was crunchy and addictive.
8-flavours siew loong bao:
Pink (Szechuan), Green (ginseng), Brown (Foie Gras), Black (truffle), Yellow (cheese), Orange (crab roe), Grey (garlic) and White (Original).
The dumplings come served in a steamer and look super pretty with their different colours! Most of the flavours are to my taste, except Szechuan and Ginseng, because the former is too spicy and the latter has a bitter aftertaste. The garlic one has a very strong, garlicky taste that can be overpowering though.
We liked the cheese flavoured one so much we decided to order another basket of 10. 😛 This was easily the best, as it has oozy, melty cheese in the middle in addition to a silky and thin skin and tender, succulent filling.
Ermehgerd so happy.
But even we couldn’t just fill our tummies with dumplings alone. Ordered Yangchow fried rice. They were generous with the shrimps, but the rice was tasteless and lacked wokhei (fire). Could use more salt or soy sauce.
The braised pork ramen (left) was good: the pork bone broth was flavourful after having been boiled for hours into a milky white base, and the braised pork belly slices were fatty and tender. The fried spring rolls were nice and crispy, albeit on the oily side.
The overall meal came up to RM140 for the three of us, which was reasonable considering the setting/environment + our food portions. We were very full and had to literally roll to our cars.
1F-15, Level 1, Paradigm Mall, No. 1, Jalan SS7/26A, Petaling Jaya, 47301, Malaysia