My search for the best dumplings in New York continues….
The first place most New Yorkers, including myself, have ever tasted soup dumplings is probably at Joe’s Shanghai. It opened in Flushing in 1995 and then soon opened a second location in the heart of Chinatown.
That’s part of why it’s so popular. It’s pretty old in terms of restaurants catering to Shanghainese cuisine and it’s in the middle of where everybody wants to eat Chinese food.
I’ve been here many times, they’ve even been featured on my Chinese dumpling video, but I’ve never sat down to review them. Which is pretty insane, since I’ve trekked out to Sunset Park and Flushing to discern which is the city’s best soup dumplings and these are right in the middle on convenient Chinatown.
So recently I was walking by and I saw there was no line, no wait, no crowds at Joe’s Shanghai. That’s actually pretty rare, so I took the opportunity to slip in, sit at one of the round communal tables, and order the xiao long bao.
Every table had at least one bamboo bowl holding the legendary steamed buns. I chose the soup dumplings with both crab and pork – as far as I’m concerned, those are the most authentic variety. At least based on my experience in NYC.
My first observation is that these were monstrous. Since my first experience, I’ve had many others and these were by far the largest of all the specimens. They almost didn’t fit on the spoon.
I also noticed the wrappers were on the thick side. That certainly helps keep the soup inside until it’s bitten into, but it also weighs down the dumplings. My other problem was that there wasn’t a lof soup inside. I didn’t have any burst of liquid, but instead a dribble of grease.
These were almost like stew dumplings because the filling was very rich and hovered somewhere between a sauce and a soup. The flavors inside were nice – crab notes are prevalent immediately with some rich pork coming in at the end.
The black vinegar sauce here is a must to cut the greasiness.
These aren’t bad soup dumplings. They’re definitely tasty, but I’ve had so much better since my first time. I want to thank Joe’s Shanghai for introducing many people to the wonders of xiao long bao, but I encourage everyone to not let their soup dumpling journey start and end here.
Does Joe’s Shanghai make the best dumplings in NY? Although they usually get all the credit, these aren’t the best. They’re a good intro, but the thick wrappers and overly greasy stock keep these from being the best. They get a 6 out of 10.
|9 Pell Street (between Doyers Street and Bowery),
|136-21 37th Avenue (between Main Street and 138th Street),
|24 West 56th Street (between Sixth and Fifth Avenue),