Evidence of the “Pierogies/Vareniki Belt” can still be found on 2nd ave in East Village, dating back to the late 19th century when Ukrainian and Polish immigrants started flocking the area. Less than a quarter of the 100,000 at the peak, still remain, and the percentage of the Pierogi shops dwindled even more. We are down to Little Poland near east 12th, the Pierogi speakeasy of Streecha on 7th, and the Pierogi kingdom of Veselka, arguably the most famous and popular Ukrainian in the country. I may be forgetting one or three.
But these days for every Pierogi joint there seems to be 5 dumpling shops popping up on or off 2nd. While it may be premature to rename it the Dumplings Belt, there are various articles out there calling East Village our newest and hippest Chinatown. If it is, its a Chinatown that looks like Little Moldova just as much.
With that said, here’s where you can find some of the best Dumplings on/off 2nd ave these days.
Silky Kitchen – Its not a question whether there’s any legit Hunanese joints in this area, but how many are out there now. Silky’s dry noodle dishes pack a punch, but its the delicious beef and daikan dumplings that makes me keep coming back. 137 E 13th (3/4)
Mimi Cheng’s (top) – The story of the two sisters (Mimi’s daughters) is inspiring, and the ultra-fresh ingredient driven dumplings in a way reflect that. While all the dumplings are good, locals flock for the unique monthly specials and collaborations like Foie Gras, black truffle, chicken a la NoMad Chicken, and the explosive Mapo Tofu dumplings available this month. 179 2nd Ave (11/12)
Dian Kitchen – Off off 2nd ave, Husband and wife team dishing out silky Yunanese style noodles based on family recipes. The pan fried dumplings feature your basic pork/chive/cabbage filling and they are just about perfect. Well balanced, crispy and delicious. 435 E 9th St (1st/A)
The Bao – These guys are so serious about their soup dumplings that they stopped making them once they realized they lost their touch. They were on a break (“Friends” style. Btw, to learn which member of Friends lives near the Bao, you need to take the East Village tour. Sorry, papa needs to pay the bills!). They took their time to relearn how to do it right and these little bundles of joy are now back. And its worth mentioning the awesome Spot Dessert Bar downstairs. 13 St Marks Pl (3rd/2nd)
Xi’an Famous Foods – Chain or not, the Lamb dumplings at Xi’an is a thing of beauty. They are the size of large meatballs, boiled and carefully ladened with a killer combination of vinegar, soy, chili paste, and chili oil. The sauce is so potent, that I wouldnt hesitate to order the spinach dumplings here instead on my healthy every first Monday of the month. 81 St Marks Pl (off 1st)