Note (11/22/10): Din Tai Fung has opened in Seattle. See my challenge to them here, included updated ratings of xiao long bao.
I’m distracted. I’m realizing it’s been far too long since I’ve had some good dumplings—especially xiao long bao.
Xiao long bao are delicious soup dumplings that are, sadly, hard to find in Seattle. Oh, we’ve got a few places that try to make them, but they’re terrible. The wrappers are too tough, the soup leaks out, and the taste is just plain bad. Why can’t someone step up and start making them right? (Actually, I’m trying to make them at home. But they take time. Part of it is my insistence on using pig skin to gelatinize the broth, as I don’t want to use the powdered stuff.)
So…I’m dreaming about my upcoming trip to New York, when I’ll devour dumplings by the basketful at Joe’s Shanghai. Their crab-and-pork dumplings are my favorite in the world. Yes, I know they’re not as delicate as the dumplings at Din Tai Fung (which are best in Taiwan, but available elsewhere—including Los Angeles) or as coveted as the ones at Nanxiang Mantou Dian in Shanghai. I’ve enjoyed both during past trips to Asia. But the xiao long bao at Joe’s Shanghai take me home (is it the native New Yorker in me?), and you can expect to see me soon in either the Chinatown or Flushing locations (which are better than Uptown, I believe).
If you’re stuck in Seattle and salivating for soup dumplings, take a trip north to Vancouver (Richmond, actually) and try out the xiao long bao at Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen. They’re quite good—with Shanghai River and The Place also offering good ones. Or do as I’ll do in December, when I fly across the Pacific back to Taipei for a whirlwind tour of xiao long bao eateries. There’s a great place in the shadow of Din Tai Fung that not only serves great soup dumplings, but also offers some filled with plum paste that are simply addictive.
Meanwhile, to further the dumpling dreams, here’s a fun scene from Kung Fu Panda that features a Dumpling Battle: