You’re young, hip and a little bit tipsy, stumbling out of your favorite Fremont watering hole in Seattle and into the night. As you pass the signpost marking the Center of the Universe (located in Fremont— it’s scientific fact) and head towards the statue of Lenin, a powerful craving seizes you. You're hungry... for dumplings.
Pel’Meni Dumpling Tzar, tucked away in an alley off Fremont Place N, comes alive in the wee hours of the morning. This modest family-run establishment is open 11am to 2:30am. While you’ll certainly find diners at all hours, it serves as the ultimate late-night refuge when most other bars and restaurants have closed down. And nothing hits the spot after an evening of carousing like a bowlful of dumplings.
Traditional pel’meni, or Russian dumplings, consist of thin, unleavened dough wrappers stuffed with a hearty filling. Top that off with sour cream or melted butter (or both), and you’ve got bliss in a bowl.
The Dumpling Tzar keeps its menu short and sweet: beef dumplings, potato dumplings (vegetarian-friendly) or a mix of both. The beef pel’meni are bursting with juice, and their potato-filled counterparts feel light and creamy on the tongue. Each heaping portion comes with fresh bread and topped with not only sour cream and butter but also a non-traditional dusting of curry, spices and cilantro. The added zing puts a delicious twist on this Russian culinary classic.
The salads will also transport you back to the U.S.S.R. with traditional taste combinations such as caraway and cabbage in white vinegar, or shredded carrots in vinegar — with cayenne and chili oil, which may not be quite so Slavic. But tantalizing!
This hidden gem, with its friendly service and yummy dumplings, couldn’t be more satisfying. So next time you feel the call of the dumpling, give in.