When I think of Upper Manhattan, images of museum strolls, expensive dinners a la "Gossip Girl," and Jacob's Pickles come to mind. The latter, a brunch and late night institution known for its commitment to delicious comfort food and cool, is the brain child of restaurateur Jacob Hadjigeorgis. Now, Hadjigeorgis is continuing his domination of the Upper West Side — this time with a fast casual dumpling spot, Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. 

Dubbed an answer to the Upper West Side's lack of approachable, delicious, and well-priced cuisine, Lucky Pickle generated tons of buzz before its doors even opened. I attended a preview of the restaurant's menu (pickle soft serve included), and I can confidently say that its kitschy atmosphere and authentically fun menu will keep me coming back for more.  

The Atmosphere:

Beatrice Forman

Yes, Lucky Pickle is small. But the restaurant's design creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, much like its southern counterpart, which is a mere two doors down. The rather open space, with gaping doors that beckon pedestrians off Amsterdam Ave and abundant overhead lighting, brings a sense of warmth and familiarity to the typically sterile and impersonal experience that is fast casual dining.

Beatrice Forman

Moreover, the communal tables are suited for Lucky Pickle's menu. Dumplings are made for sharing, and these wide tables with barstool seating make it easy for large groups to catch up over Dan Dan noodles and sesame dumplings.  

Beatrice Forman

Finally, the restaurant is littered with kitschy homages to its Chinese-American fusion background. The menu, and fashion-forward apparel, depict renderings of Maneki Neko and the Ox in a cartoonish American style. Lucky Pickle serves up more than piping hot Chinese offerings and well-cured pickles; it serves a dining experience baked in the best parts of cultural diffusion. 

The Menu:  

Lucky Pickle's menu is comprised of six dumpling and three noodle varieties peppered with a handful of vegetable-centric sides and inventive ice creams. Each dish is carefully crafted to showcase both Chinese flavors and a distinctly American quirk, making Lucky Pickle a surefire Asian fusion staple in Manhattan. 

Shrimp Dumplings:

Beatrice Forman

If you can try one dumpling at Lucky Pickle, then the shrimp dumpling is it. Its flavors, comprised of a well-seasoned shrimp covered in a demure yet buttery dumpling, inspired the restaurant's conception. After tasting a shrimp dumpling that rocked his world in Shanghai, Hadjigeorgis knew he had to bring an updated version stateside. Thus, the shrimp dumpling is a star. 

Pork Dumplings:

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For Chinese takeout traditionalists, a pork dumpling is a must have. Lucky Pickle elevates your favorite side dish by coating it in a 5 spice broth that packs a necessary punch. 

Dan Dan Noodles:

Beatrice Forman

The Dan Dan noodles, much like Childish Gambino's latest release, is a lot to unpack. Each layer of flavor functions well individually; but together, they create a flavor profile one part spicy, one part sweet, a pinch salty, and all parts delicious. 

Sirracha Pickle Slaw:

Beatrice Forman

Lucky Pickle's  Sirracha Pickle Slaw was my personal favorite, perhaps because it felt familiar. Reminiscent of of Fourth of July barbecues and sandwiches topped with too much coleslaw, this side dish is the pinnacle of Hadjigeorgis's nod to grassroots American flavors. It's refreshing, light, and just a little bit sweet, making it the perfect compliment to their spicier offerings. 

Pickle Soft Serve:

Beatrice Forman

Now, the moment you've all be waiting for: the pickle soft serve. Its whimsy hits a sweet spot for any pickle aficionado, especially the candied pickle garnish. One spoonful of this palate clenser will send you waves of nostalgia -- it tastes like blended Sour Patch Kids (or cucumber, if you think like an adult.) 

Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. is revolutionizing how we think of fusion cuisine. Rather than borrowing aspects of home-style Chinese dishes, Hadjigeorgis unabashedly appreciates the flavors. This refreshing attitude shines through in every item, making Lucky Pickle stand out in a sea of takeout options.