SFP is a huge fan of dim sum and dumplings. If SFP were not his handle, it probably would have been Dr. Dumpling. SFP has no illusions of the Cantonese steaming dim sum carts being pushed around in Seoul anytime soon. Therefore, SFP has been on the search for good dim sum / dumplings. The term “dim sum” means small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. The restaurants included in this Top 10 list include traditional dim sum dishes but in general encompasses the wide spectrum of Chinese dumplings.
The two criteria to be considered for inclusion on this list is that the restaurant had to offer more than 2-3 dumplings and it could not focus on the Korean-style dumplings – i.e., the crescent shaped chive dumplings served at naengmyun restaurants or the mass-produced frozen variety that is pan fried. SFP was looking for handmade Chinese inspired dumplings. Most of the restaurants here offer xiao long bao (XLB) on the menu. It has become common fare now to have XLB on your menu if you are selling yourself as an authentic dim sum or dumpling restaurant. Honestly, I can’t tell you if one restaurant in Seoul’s XLB is better than the other. So long as the skin doesn’t rip when you lift it up with your chopsticks, then I think it passes the threshold of decent XLB.
FYI – SeoulFoodPatrol’s method of eating XLB is waiting for a few minutes for the XLB to cool down a bit and then put the slivers of ginger on top and then pop the whole thing into his mouth to let the soup explosion occur at one time. He is not the type who puts the XLB on the spoon, pinches a hole, slurps the juice and then eats the skin/filling.
SFP cannot claim to have visited every reputable restaurants that offers dim sum or dumplings. This list is based on SFP’s personal visits, recommendations and research. If you feel that that there is a restaurant that should be included, please feel to add it in the Comment section below. Based on SFP’s passion for dumplings and his duty to serve others, he will be continually updating this list on a real-time basis.
Pan Fried (P), Deep Fried (DF), Steamed (S), Boiled (B)
Considered but not included in Top 10:
- Crystal Jade
- Chai 797
- 바오차이(Bao Chai)
- Hyang Mi
- Jonny Dumpling
Here is the Top 10 Dumpling (Seoul) list as determined by SeoulFoodPatrol as of June 30, 2018:
1. 연교- Yeon-Gyo
Mapo-Gu, Yeonnam Dong
This place opened in January 2018. The owners own and operate Hyang Mi, a well-known Chinese restaurant in Yeonnam Dong. The father-mother are Koreans who originate from Taiwan. So in addition to dumplings, they also serve the Taiwanese beef noodle soup.
They initially opened up this to serve only dumplings and that is why you see the sign “Yeonnam Dumplings” on the side of the restaurant. So they decided to offer up a full-menu in addition to the dumplings. On their menu are 10 different types of dumplings. They indicated that they plan on adding two more dumpling selections to their menu.
Their XLB is good but is not the star of the show. If it is your first time their, then I would insist you order the Guo Tie (꿔티에) and Sichuan Spicy Wonton (차우셔우). There is a note at the bottom of the menu indicating that it takes 15 minutes to prepare the Guo Tie. I believe the Guo Tie are steamed first and then the bottom of the dumplings are pan fried to create that crispy crust. The final product is an amazing sensation of a crispy dumpling that oozes succulent and rich pork broth from the filling. It’s the best of both worlds. I would almost say that the Guo Tie dumpling is more delicious and satisfying than the XLB.
The Sichuan Spicy Wonton is also delicious. It has that peppercorn inducing tongue numbing spiciness. The sauce was delicious that we used the red sauce to dip the other dumplings that we had ordered (Pollock Fish Dumpling, which is also recommended).
NOTE: The owners has said that they tend to Koreanize the taste of many dishes. When ordering this dish, you may want to ask them to prepare the traditional way – i.e., spicier, that is if you like things spicy.
The third dumpling that I recommend you order is the Shengjian Mantou Baozi (성젠바오). It is a bun dumpling that is pan fried at the bottom. It’s similar in preparation to the Guo Tie (I believe). Similar to the Guo Tie, there is extreme juiciness that oozes out of the filling when bite into it.
SFP has tried EVERY dumpling on the menu and was satisfied with dumpling. The main factors that has Yeon Gyo stand out among the rest of the other restaurants is the amount of selection and taste. Secondly, it’s price. I don’t think I’ve seen a dumpling restaurant in Seoul that offers this many choice of dumplings.
2. 브르시리– Bruce Lee
Gangnam-Gu, Yangjae Dong
Of all the restaurants listed on this list, Bruce Lee is probably the most dim sum-esque. It offers a lot of the traditional dim sum dishes. Their number of selection offering is almost on par with Yeon Gyo and the prices are not that bad. Disclosure: It has been about 3-4 years since SFP last visited Bruce Lee so it is due for another visit.
3. 쭈즈딤섬– Jooo’s Dim Sum
This place has been around for about 4 years. SFP went here 2 years ago. Now it is impossible to go here. Why? Because there are ridiculous lines all the time. There is a reason why. The dumplings are super cheap and super delicious. In addition to the dim sum offerings, they also serve the Sichuan dan dan noodles which is incredibly cheap. Due to its popularity, they have a policy of not allowing you to order more food after you place your first order. It’s like a food factory now. They don’t want you to kick back with your friends and drink and talk. It’s eat and get out so others can enjoy.
4. 청키면가– Cheung Kee Myun Ga
This restaurant started off in a small location in Hongdae. Then they switched to a location in Itaewon. Now they have 3 locations in Seoul – Cheungdam, Gangnam Station and Euljiro 1-Ga (across from Lotte Dept Store) – with locations at Starfield Mall and Gyeonggi Do. The name, concept and ingredients are licensed from a well-known restaurant in Hong Kong. The person who brought it to Korea is sub-licensing it to any prospective franchisees. The HK licensing and food sourcing (the egg noodles) could explain why the prices are little higher here. Aside from the high prices, the quality and selection here is also very good. The Cheongdam location is the largest spaced restaurant and also has the most extensive menu among the 3 locations.
5. 송화산시도삭면– Song Wha Shanxi Noodle
Gwangjin-Gu, Konkuk University Station
This restaurant was highlighted in the tvN food show – Wendesday Night Foodie Roundtable earlier this year. They specialize in the shanxi knife cut noodle, Sichuan cuisine and dim sum. The dim sum selection is also quite extensive. The XLB is good, nothing spectacular. Same thing with the other dim sum. I love how there are many choices – i.e., many tastes – but there insn’t one dim sum that makes you go “Wow.”
6. 골드피쉬딤섬– Goldfish Dim Sum
Gangnam-Gu, Apgujung Dong
Disclosure: SFP went to this restaurant about 3 years ago. SFP recalls it being good. The owner has opened up a second location in Mapo’s Hongdae section called Goldfish Express. The Hongdae location has had some operating issues. SFP has tried to go there twice during the past 6 months and it was either closed for holiday or remodeling. At the time this post goes live, the newly remodeled Goldfish Express should be up and running, SFP hopes.
7. 서두산Dim Sum
Songpa-Gu, Bangi Dong
This place, by its name, focuses on dim sum. The workers there are Korean-Chinese so Korean is not their first language. SFP thought the dim sum was good but not spectacular. The thing that lingered is his mind post-meal was that it was a bit expensive for the quantity.
8. 딘타이펑– Din Tai Fung
Gangnam-Gu, Gangnam Station
This famous Taiwanese restaurant has 5 branches in Korea – Gangnam Station, Myeong Dong, Times Square Mall (Yeongdeungpo-Gu), Gimpo, and Suwon.
If you have never heard of Din Tai Fung, then check out the Wikipedia article below. It’s that famous. Din Tai Fung = XLB.
9. 미스터서왕만두– Mr. Seo Wang Mandu
Mapo-Gu, Ewha Women’s University Station
Mr. Seo Wang Mandu is a dumpling shop. All it serves is dumplings (4) plus a seafood soup (with no noodles). It’s good. Enjoyeed it. Instead of calling it a restaurant, I want to call it a snack shop because you’re only there to eat the dumplings. They don’t even serve alcohol there.
- 제레미20 (Jeremie20)– SFP has not been to Jeremie20, a dim shop at Gangnam Station. It appears that there are 4 other locations – (1) Yeongdeungpo-Gu (2) Jongno Tower (3) Songpa-Gu – HomePlus in Jamsil (4) Seocho Station. It is well-covered in the Naver blogs. It looks good and based on the price points, I think it will most likely crack SFP’s Top 10 Dumpling list. I am predicting that it will come in at number 5 or 6.
2. Crystal Jade – SFP needs to visit Crystal Jade soon. It may have the opportunity to push out Mr. Seo Wang Mandu out of the Top 10.