Dreaming About Dumplings (Especially Xiao Long Bao)

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:

Joe's Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Joe's Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Chen's Shanghai Kitchen on Urbanspoon



5 Responses to “Dreaming About Dumplings (Especially Xiao Long Bao)”

  1. July 29, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    A little hint–When we were in NYC we found Joe’s to be sadly wanting–I know they’re the big name but I reccomend locating New Yeah Shanghai nearby in Chinatown. These were by far the best that we had–and we spent a lot of time looking. In fact, all of their food was exceptional, so I reccomend finding some friends and ordering a feast…We had about 6 people and ended up in an amazing little private alcove…though it meant I didn’t get to food porn it up quite as much…

    I’m sure you partner has better ideas on izakayas than I do anyways, but when I find out people are headed to NY I always plug my fav, Hagi, and reccomend the beef liver sashimi.

  2. admin
    July 29, 2008 at 8:33 pm #

    Thanks for the tip! I’m always open to recommendations, and will try to check out your xiao long bao place if I get to Chinatown. That said, after eating the best in LA, Vancouver, Shanghai and Taipei, it’ll be tough to top Joe’s Shanghai. I love them!

  3. November 18, 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    I recently paid a visit and I must say I was quite impressed. They have great XLB!

  4. Ellen
    June 30, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    Din Tai Fung is opening a Bellevue restaurant sometime in Fall 2010.

  5. admin
    June 30, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    Thanks, Ellen. Actually, check my blog post on May 24, 2010. I broke the story about the Bellevue opening!

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