Shanghai soup dumplings have always had a special place in my heart as my comfort food on Sunday mornings in San Francisco. There are several restaurants that offer these dumplings throughout the Bay Area, including Shanghai Dumpling King and Shanghai Dumpling Shop. For $5, you can get a tray of 10 and all your Sunday sorrows will disappear. (But, don’t go overboard now because I guarantee that food coma will not help with your already Lazy Sunday.)
When I first moved to NYC, rumors had it that there was a great Shanghai soup dumpling spot in Chinatown called Joe’s Shanghai. Of course, like many other well-known restaurants here, I would have to expect a rather lengthy line spanning blocks. What?! Is it worth it? After experiencing Din Tai Fung in Arcadia, CA (Los Angeles), I definitely developed a greater appreciation for Shanghai soup dumplings. If there is going to be a long line, I was expecting the soup dumplings to be at Din Tai Fung’s level. This restaurant chain has seriously got it down to a science from the delectable fillings to the satisfaction of puncturing those dumplings and drinking its soup. Was Joe’s Shanghai going to make the cut?
Fortunately, during my staycation, I found time to go to Joe’s at an odd hour on a weekday to avoid the line altogether — the highlight of my entire staycation was probably not having to wait in line for restaurants at all (it’s the little things, okay?). When we were seated, we were greeted with tons of laminated pictures of who we presumed was Joe and celebrities like Emma Stone and Seth Rogen. We knew we were in for a treat. For two people, we ordered a hot & sour soup to leave room for both kinds of soup dumplings: pork and crab. My eyes widened with excitement when they brought our soup dumplings.
With the soy sauce and vinegar dipping sauce and ginger to top it off, I could not wait to sink my teeth into the first soup dumpling! Verdict?
Delicious! Though, my eagerness was returned with a scorched tongue, it certainly did not stop me from finishing the tray. These dumplings are larger than typical Shanghai soup dumplings that I have had, but still retained an enormous amount of soup while being steamed. There was enough soup to even flow over the soup spoon itself. You definitely get more bang for your buck here than at Din Tai Fung. We both preferred the crab filling over the pork filling, but both were very good. The filling itself was very meaty whereas other restaurants often add chives or other vegetables to their dumpling fillings. Overall, worth a very long wait? Probably not. But, hey, if you find yourself in the area and see that there is no line, then step in and try it yourself! These dumplings are better than anything San Francisco has to offer. Though, it seems that Din Tai Fung still holds my gold standard for great Shanghai soup dumplings for a tastier dumpling filling.
But… don’t take my word for it. What’s your verdict?
9 Pell Street
New York, New York 10013
Tip: don’t get mixed up with Joe’s Ginger restaurant on the same street.