Admittedly, this is a liberal interpretation of what constitutes a “fry”. While more closely related to a perogie than a poutine this fried dumpling is filled with potato and cheese and then deep fried to a crispy pillow of Eastern block comfort. That’s “fry” enough for me. Also, it says so on the menu. Who am I to disagree?
I was converted to Pel Meni Dumpling Tzar while pursuing my undergrad in Bellingham, Washington. Life was simpler then. That location served two menu items; potato or meat pelmeni (dumplings). They served the dumplings in take-out containers (regardless of your intentions) with some briny sauces, curry powder, fresh cilantro, and sour cream. Don’t forget about the dark rye bread. The only way it’d be more comforting is if you were freezing to death in northern Siberia and Oprah Winfrey personally delivered them to you with a side of electric blanket.
Present day there are four locations that bear a variation on this name and concept. Bellingham is still around in addition to Fremont and Capitol Hill in Seattle. The fourth location is in Juneau Alaska. Naturally. I visited the Capitol Hill location off of 12th and Pine and you should too. The menu is dramatically more expansive than my previous experience in “the ‘Ham” including multiple sauce options and seasonal filling choices. This is due to the fact that the Seattle locations are independently run by separate ownership. Are they similar? Yes. But it’s no longer apples to apples…or, dumplings to dumplings.
Vareniki Fries were my order for the day.
The potato dumplings have always been my favorite, so a fried variation of that foundation was a winner by definition. Sure enough, these were fantastic. The crust was crunchy like the world’s best pizza roll. The filling was soft, cheesy, and smooth. Everything was dusted with chili spices creating a bit of heat and an attractive presentation. The two dipping sauces provided contrasted well with the dumplings. One was a spicy sour cream (Sriracha, maybe?), the other was some sort of ketchup. Alright, alright.
Don’t hold me to this, but I feel like I could eat at this place everyday. The Vareniki Fries are great, but they’re not an improvement over the regular pelmeni. They’re also not worse. They’re a steal at $6 for the order and earn an 8.5 out of 10 on my rating scale.
In the future you should be able to click this link to see other reviews from Pel Meni Dumpling Tzar, assuming that I do future reviews.
Sampled in February 2017
Here’s a photo of the regular order to pelmeni. Behold: