Will Soo never met a dish he couldn’t turn into a dumpling.
Who doesn’t love a dumpling? Almost every cuisine around the globe has a version of these plump little purses packed with their own unique fillings. There are Japanese gyoza, Polish pierogies, Pakistani samosas, Italian tortellinis—all descended from a Chinese innovation. Soo learned to make dumplings at six years old using his mother’s recipe, which laid the foundation for Lucky Seb’s (open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays at 2210 Iowa St., Lawrence), the restaurant he opened this spring. Seb’s serves two traditional dumpling offerings: either pork or vegetable dumplings filled with shiitake mushrooms, scallions, Napa cabbage and rice noodles.
Seb’s specials are worth the drive to Lawrence. Every week Soo does something unexpected: Philly cheesesteak dumplings, chicken enchilada dumplings, Italian meatball dumplings and dumplings that riff on biscuits and gravy. The birria dumplings exemplify Soo’s bold talents: Roasted brisket is stewed in a beef bone broth with guajillo and ancho peppers, onion, cumin and cinnamon, then spooned onto a square of simple dough—just flour, salt and water—and pinched into a bao. These meaty pillows are then pan-fried and steamed (Soo starts with oil in the pan to crisp up the bottom, then adds water and a cover to keep the tops soft) and served with a side of the spiced stew broth for your dipping pleasure.