Soup dumplings—and instructions on how to eat them—are always a highlight of my Flushing Chinatown food tours. One of the stranger techniques I’ve witnessed is people who forego a spoon and hold the dumpling aloft, nipping a hole in the side. It’s not a method I’d recommend. One tool I never thought I’d see used in dispatching xiao long bao is a straw. Lately though a larger style dumpling has begun to appear, first in Shanghai, and now in Queens, thanks to Shanghai You Garden.
The pork and crab soup dumplings at You are some of the best around so my posse and I were eager to sample the new novelty dumpling. It comes to the table in a tiny steamer the size of a saucer accompanied by a straw. Inside the steamer was a somewhat wobbly specimen. It took a bit of care to insert the straw. I found the side approach best. Careful not to slurp too vigorously and risk scalding, I took a sip. The soup was lovely, flavored with pork and crab. The only problem is that one is left with dumpling skin to eat afterwards, which isn’t such a bad problem.
By the way the Chinese name for this new novelty soup dumpling is guan tang bao, or irrigated soup dumplings. Presumably the irrigation refers to the straw. In any case they’re a nice change of pace when you’re not in the mood for xiao long bao.
Shanghai You Garden, 135-33 40th Rd., 718-886-2286
These straw pierced soup dumplings are a common tourist purchase at the real Yu Garden in Shanghai.