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How to make cheeseburger dumplings with the Dumpling Mafia

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You can get to know someone pretty quickly by asking them a single, simple question: What is a dumpling?

Is a burrito a dumpling? What about a Hot Pocket or a calzone? I may shake my head and vehemently disagree with you, but I promise I’ll hear you out.

As we filmed Season 2 of video series “The Bucket List,” I asked chefs from around the city about dumplings. Some felt strongly about a dumpling needing a wrapper. Others thought the size mattered. Most thought a filling was needed.

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On this week’s episode of ‘The Bucket List: Dumplings,’ we learn about Japanese gyoza, what makes them so delicious, and who is making them in L.A.

In our final episode of the season, I sought guidance from the most enthusiastic dumpling fans I know. They call themselves the Dumpling Mafia. It’s a local group that includes chef Shirley Chung, writer Andy Wang and culinary consultant and event coordinator Caryl Chinn. The three roam the city looking for all styles of fried, boiled, steamed and grilled dumplings.

The jumbo cheeseburger potstickers served with bacon tomato jam at Ms Chi Cafe in Culver City.
The jumbo cheeseburger potstickers served with bacon tomato jam at Ms Chi Cafe in Culver City.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

We recently sat down at Chung’s Culver City restaurant, Ms Chi Cafe, to bring together our favorite dumplings from around Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. On the table were xiao long bao from Shanghailander Palace, beef and pork hui tou from Hui Tou Xiang, spicy won tons from Dumpling Monster, and Chung’s own cheeseburger dumplings.

Our quest to come up with the definition of a dumpling took our conversation around the world and back and even into the universe of dumpling NFTs.

On this week’s episode, we try three different mandu specialists in Koreatown for some king mandu, spicy shrimp dumplings and pan-fried dumplings.

Chung serves jumbo cheeseburger potstickers at her restaurant, a dish she created while a contestant on Season 14 of the show “Top Chef.” She brought us into her kitchen and demonstrated how to make the dumplings, filled with house-ground chuck, chunky diced red onions and plenty of cheddar cheese.

“The possibilities for dumplings are endless,” Chung said. I couldn’t agree more.

Thank you for watching this season of “The Bucket List.” We hope that you’ve enjoyed our dumpling adventures and that we’ve inspired you to go out, explore and share in the dumpling love. You can catch up on the entire season at youtube.com/latimesfood.

Where to eat dumplings from this episode

Ms. Chi, 3829 Main St., Culver City, (424) 361-5225, mschicafe.com
Hui Tou Xiang, San Gabriel and Hollywood locations at www.huitouxiang.com
Dumpling Monster, 7318 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 60, West Hollywood, (323) 450-9790, www.eatdumplingmonster.com
Shanghailander Palace, 1440 S. Baldwin Ave,. Arcadia, (626) 348-8866







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