Potstickers vs. ShuiJiao
I had long wanted to find the best potstickers in bay area but had long given up. To me the best potstickers is “Shanghai” style – it is long, about 3″~4″ long and 1″ wide, with both ends OPEN. There’s no liquid inside, but filling is very juicy. The best versions can be tasted in many places in Taiwan.
In bay area, I tried a couple of places. One is “Potsticker King” in Cupertino. They make some decent Taiwanese xiao-chi, but the potsticker is terrible, especially given their name. It is nothing like the Shanghai style. Another place is a Shanghai style restaurant in “Little Taipei” mall in Fremont. I forgot the name of it, but their version was pretty close to the real thing. However I couldn’t recommend it as it was super greasy where you can see and taste the oil on the plate – to top it off, there was a piece of hair inside the filling – not really a standard ingredient.
As Gary mentioned, shui jiao is a totally different beast. As a Shangdong-ren myself, I know that shui jiao is what we eat the most. I rarely seek out shui jiao in restaurants since I’ve been spoiled by my grandmother’s version. Luckily she has passed on the recipe to my mother – so I can enjoy it anytime.
More common for Shangdong-ren is the jian jiao – or Pan Friend Water Dumpling. We usually pan fry the left over shui jiao the next day and get the jian jiao. It is very similar to potstickers but they start out differently. Jian jiao must start life as a cooked shui jiao. While poststickers must start life as uncooked, then pan fried directly. As far as I know Jian Jiao is not a restaurant food – since it’s basically reusing a leftover. So for restaurants Potstickers became the main dish to serve if you don’t want the water-boiled shui jiao.