My search for the best dumplings in New York continues….

Sometimes bigger is not always better. Last year Drunken Dunpling debuted with the promise of an extra large soup dumpling the likes of which you’ve never seen. Unless you’ve seen something like it in Shanghai of course.

In New York, this was brought to you by Qihui Guan, who perfected xiao long bai at Joe’s Shanghai. But her son must have had the idea to increase the size of the dumpling and was able to convince the Instagram paparazzi to come out, wait in line, and cause a small foodie hysteria.

A while back, I strategically timed my visit at an off-hour when I figured I could try this monster without having to deal with the crowds. I ordered the XL XLB (extra large xiao long bao) and could not have been more disappointed.

It was as advertised – one giant soup dumpling. I was given a straw to tackle it, but I was nervous about this thing. I imagined it might scream when I punctured it.

I had quite a few issues with it. First off, I don’t want to eat soup with a straw, especially this rich and salty pork broth. You may as well just put in an IV and pipe in the soup intravenously. No thank you.
Next, when I attempted to actually eat the soup with the dumpling wrapper and the giant crab/pork meatball inside, it fell apart and I made a complete mess. Soup dumplings are already precarious but with a giant one, I found it impossible to contain. The plastic plate put underneath the steamer also did not help matters. Pretty soon I had soup leaking down my table and on the floor. Amazingly nobody seemed to notice – wonder if this happens all the time?
The original presentation may have looked cool in a photograph but it proved unappetizing and difficult to eat.
Of course, the giant soup dumpling is just one thing on their menu and I think most people recognize it as a gimmick. I was eager to try a modest more manageable sized soup dumpling so I came back a few months later.
This time I ordered the regular Crab Soup Dumplings and can’t say I was much more impressed. No question they were better with a nice rich crab/pork meatball and a doughy skin. But the broth was both lacking in abundance and a bit bland.
To top it off, this ended up being another mess. I was originally not given a spoon but rather a plastic one. This barely contained the soup. Plus I had a tough time with the plastic container holding the dipping sauce and finally, these were also served with just a styrofoam plate underneath to catch all the extra broth.
I ended up with broth and soy sauce all over the table and floor. Perhaps I’m the problem, but I assure you I ate these completely sober and Drunken Dumpling must be the drunken ones.

Does Drunken Dumpling have the best dumplings in NY? The giant one is just ridiculous and more food ends up on the floor than in your mouth. The smaller ones save this place a bit earning it a out of 10, but they still lack finesse and complexity.

DRUNKEN DUMPLING
137 First Avenue (between East 9th Street and St. Marks Place),
East Village
(212) 982-8882
drunkendumplingny.com
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Category: Dumplings

About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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