Shanghai Chinese Restaurant, 6718 Middle Fiskville, 458-8088. Shrimp and leek dumplings: with sweet shrimp and leek in a steamed wrapper. Pan-fried dumplings: huge, nicely browned, with minced pork, scallion, and cabbage in a medium-thick pastry; they are the best in town. Shrimp roll in rice-pasta sheets (cheung fun): fresh rice pasta forming a rectangle with small shrimp. All wrappers are house-made and perfect.
Pao's Mandarin House, 2300 Lohman's Spur #134, Lakeway, 512/263-8869. Pan-fried dumplings are superb: thin wrappers encasing a chunky pork filling (and the dipping sauce is perfectly balanced, the best in town). Pao-Tze are large, dome-shaped pork dumplings with a unique sauce of tamarind, lots of ginger, soy, and black vinegar; they are excellent and radically different from the previous dumplings.
Asia Cafe, 8650 Spicewood Springs Rd. #115 (at Highway 183), 331-5780. Zhong dumplings are exquisite: Handmade pastry surrounds juicy pork, resting in a pool of sweet soy, chile and sesame oils, and loads of garlic. Spicy Wonton is a large bowl of long dumplings with pork sitting upon pea shoots, dripping with a spicy broth of sesame with scallion. Asia's roasted chile oil on the table is the best: incendiary and loaded with ma la (Sichuan peppercorns).
NG House, 6800 West Gate Blvd. #112, 416-9888. Pan-fried dumplings are outstanding: handmade pastry properly browned, containing a plump pork filling, accompanied by a nicely balanced soy-ginger sauce (and excellent chile paste). Spicy Wonton: a bowl of meaty dumplings perched atop a pool of garlic oil kissed with vinegar and garnished with sesame seeds.
China Palace, 6605 Airport, 451-7104. Hot and Spicy Wonton consists of shrimp-and pork-filled wontons covered with a spicy red oil sauce, with a hint of vinegar and lots of garlic. Pan-fried dumplings are minced-pork packets, perfectly browned on the bottom, and served with a well-balanced gingery sauce.
Tâm Deli & Cafe, 8222 N. Lamar Ste. D-33, 834-6458. Steamed rice wraps (báhn cuôn) never fail to delight, especially the ground pork/black mushroom version that comes topped with slices of Tâm's homemade pork pâté, garnished with fried garlic, and along with a salad of cucumber slices and sprouts.
Golden Wok, 500 Canyon Ridge, 228-3688. A newbie from San Antone, with delightful shrimp har gau (fat steamed dumplings with tapioca flour skins), shrimp sui mai (wheat flour skins, shrimp within), and fun kwok pot stickers (pork, chicken, and shrimp filling). All first-rate.
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