Even the phrase can conjure dreams of belly warming niceness: “soup dumplings” not dumplings floating in soup mind you, but dumplings hiding soup within it's pillowy casing. Crazily enough, I've known about this Joe's Shanghai delicacy for years, but only had the chance to try it the other week. It's the house specialty, the efficient waiters ask you how many before a menu is even distributed. We ordered two crab versions for each of us (though I could have eaten more).
According to the site:
Xiao Long Bao or “Little Dumplings from Basket” was originated from Nan Xiang, a suburb of Shanghai. Their perfectly symmetrical shape, resembles a pagoda.”
Here in the city there are several places to try the dish, but none are more popular than Joe's Shanghai, so expect a wait if you go during peak hours. Of course, who makes the best is a topic of great debate on Chowhound and the people are always ready to fall the king – but I was blown away and crave them right this second (particularly with that winter sleet blowing around outside).
And NY Mag answers one of the big questions :
“How do they get the soup inside those dumplings? Easy: They thicken it with gelatin and put it in solid. Then, when the dumplings are steamed, voila: soup!”
But the typically bright and stripped down restaurant deserves accolades for more than just their dumplings. I can't recall all the dishes we ordered everyone had their own pick) but I seem to recall Moo Shoo pork Shrimp and Chicken in Plum Sauce and one of the noodle dishes with beef.. even if the names escape me, I can say with certainly that they were all really good.
There are three Joe's locations, the one I ate at in Chinatown, one in midtown and one in Flushing.