Got Dumplings versus Marco and Luca — A battle between two giants

Settling the dumpling debate once and for all

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A long line of hungry students often surrounds the dumpling cart on Grounds, which features Got Dumplings' offerings.

Callie Collins | Cavalier Daily

Dumpling choice has been the topic of long and heated debate among students at the University in recent years. The dumpling war has brought two titans of the dumpling industry into direct competition — Got Dumplings and Marco and Luca. With Got Dumplings recently opening their own brick-and-mortar location, it seems the fight has been brought to a showdown on the Corner. The standoff has left many wondering who reigns supreme in the world of tasty fried dough. 

Many students — especially those with a meal plan and some plus dollars to spend — have already sided with our favorite food truck, but I think it’s time the two go head-to-head to see who comes out on top.

But who am I to be making such a decision? Well, I’d like to consider myself something of an expert when it comes to dumplings. My plus dollars spent at the dumpling truck skyrocket very comfortably into the triple digits. I’ve eaten everything on both menus. I’ve even been to Marco and Luca during the daytime. Through dozens upon dozens of white takeout boxes, I believe I’ve garnered a well developed a taste for what each contender brings to the table.

If we’re to dive into this hot button topic between such close competition, we’re going to need to get technical. Let’s break this down into three categories.

Best Dumplings — Marco and Luca

A dumpling place is truly only as good as its dumplings, and in a tight race, Marco and Luca comes out on top. Got Dumplings, across all categories, starts as the clear frontrunner with its greater variety. But, let’s be honest, we all know that tofu dumplings are just a side show to the main event pork. Pork dumplings are the godfather of the dumpling world, and Got Dumplings’ pork has nothing on the perfectly crispy, soy-sauce-dripping dumplings of Marco and Luca. Besides serving more dumplings for less money, Marco and Luca dumplings hold their delicious packaging and signature crunch in a way Got Dumplings cannot.

Sides — Got Dumplings

However, we all know that a meal is only as good as its sides, and the tables turn back to Got Dumplings when it comes to the fixings. Many sides are automatic wins for Got Dumplings, with no contender put forward from Marco and Luca — kimchi, seaweed salad and edamame all go unmatched. However, even in direct competition, Got Dumplings reigns supreme. Both versions of cold noodles at Marco and Luca are decidedly ordinary, while Got Dumplings’ cold sesame noodles are a personal favorite. The flavors of Marco and Luca feel busy and overly sweet, while Got Dumplings — especially with just a splash of their dumpling sauce — nails the noodles spot on. Additionally, we must note the easily accessible and endless supply of sriracha at Got Dumplings, which is a mainstay to add eye-watering heat to your already mouth-watering experience. 

Extras — Marco and Luca

A bit of a miscellaneous category, but after such a discussion on pork dumplings, it’s hard to ignore the other proteins the two have to offer. To be perfectly honest, I made this category specifically to discuss the buns at Marco and Luca. Yes, Got Dumplings does sport their fair share of pork alternatives, but besides their curry chicken — a close second to their pork — their other options fail to shine like their original. Marco and Luca, on the other hand, doesn’t truly shine until you get to that pork bun. The veggie bun can be a nice alternative. But, in my opinion, the savory pork overload that is Marco and Luca dumplings with a side of a pork bun — both drenched in their sticky-sweet signature sauce — is the best combination between either store. 

Note that this was an incredibly difficult choice when we consider Got Dumplings’ trump card — Thai tea. I can drink that stuff like my life depends on it, and I rarely, if ever, find myself still with any to drink by the time I actually get my food. It’s tough to have Got Dumplings lose in a category where we count Thai tea, but at the end of the day, I’d give up my delicious sweet drink for a chance to stick my fingers together over a sweet pork bun.

In such a close race, small differences can push either side closer to a victory. While the categories are tight and the decision hard-fought, I can say with confidence that Marco and Luca still remains the original kingpin of Corner dumplings. Sure, they may not be quite as hip as their rivals, and the convenience of the food truck is hard to deny. But, Got Dumplings lacks in the sheer guilty pleasure that abounds at Marco and Luca. You may not be drinking boba at Marco and Luca any time soon, but that signature sauce that unexplainably coats your hands and face at the end of a meal is an indulgence you can’t find coming out of a truck.

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