Comfort Food: Starch Bombs!

Posted December 15, 2010
Sometimes thick and doughy, and sometimes almost impossibly delicate, dumplings are the shape shifters of the comfort food world. Whatever your fancy, we’ve got you covered.

Dumplings
Think of the beef bing ($5) at Henry’s Taiwan (two locations: International District and Bellevue) as overgrown pot stickers—same crispy, pan-fried surface, same satisfyingly doughy chew, same savory meat filling as a pot sticker, only double the size. Sound good? Each order comes with two bings, so you can relive the sensation of biting into one of these juicy dumplings.

Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung specializes in what some consider the best xiao long bao (soup dumplings) in the world, and its latest push toward global dumpling domination has occurred in Bellevue’s Lincoln Square. The perfectly pleated (18 folds, to be exact), thin-skinned wrappers hold a rich sip of soup and a bit of succulent pork filling. A bamboo steamer of these on a blustery day ($7.25), a little dish of gingery black vinegar, and you’ve got the makings of one excellent meal.
 
Piroshky
The constant line of hungry eaters waiting to wrap their hands around a warm piroshky (Russian turnover) can’t be wrong. Piroshky Piroshky in the Pike Place Market serves up an array of portable Russian pastries, each costing between $4 and $6. Savory fillings, such as spinach, egg and cheese, or beef and onion, are lovingly tucked into supple rounds of yeasted dough before being glazed and baked. One makes for a light lunch, but save room for a cinnamon cardamom braid for a meal that’ll leave you full for hours.

Pierogi
Follow the taped-up arrows at Capitol Hill’s Polish Home Association and you’ll find yourself at PB Kitchen, a makeshift restaurant that operates for only eight hours a week. On Fridays from 6 to 11 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., anyone can become an honorary Pole, for a $1 cover charge. Daring diners swear by the slightly milky, tangy pickle soup to start with, when it’s on the menu. We recommend the Polish platter ($12), which comes with beef-and-rice-stuffed golabki (cabbage rolls), sausages, a scoop of mashed potatoes and—best of all—a variety of pierogi (half-moon-shaped dumplings) flecked with bacon and dribbled with sour cream. Wash it down with Polish beer or vodka, and remember to stop by the ATM beforehand; PB Kitchen is a cash-only enterprise.