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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shanghai Soup Dumplings

The best thing I ate in China in 2009 was an order of soup dumplings in Shanghai. It was one of my favorite parts of our trip...our friend James led us down a narrow street to a tiny restaurant he'd read had the best soup dumplings in the city.

Remembering the experience one day, I decided to google "best soup dumplings in New York," which led me to this place.
Not exactly off the beaten path, even though it's on a side street. However, I was doing a little holiday elf duty for someone in Chinatown, so it was easy to combine the errands.
Seeing the 1996 New York Times review posted in the window made me think I'd read about this place in Ruth Reichl's book Garlic and Sapphires. (I just spent 20 minutes on Google trying to see if this was where the dinner with Punch Sulzberger took place -- I was fond of that chapter, since it reminds me of the time I got to sit by Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. at dinner when I worked for one of his television stations. I'm still sorry I turned down his invitation to fly from Huntsville to Florence on the company jet!)
Anyway, back to Joe's. I'm pretty sure the place stays packed, but it was about 4 p.m. on a Saturday, so I easily got a seat at one of the communal tables. The friendly couple seated next to me advised that the dumplings are listed as "buns" on the menu.
I polished mine off and enjoyed them, but they were definitely not on par with the ones I had in Shanghai. Those had a crispy bottom, which added a nice element of texture. Oh, well, definitely worth the trip, nonetheless.

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