Monday, December 22, 2008

Shanghai Soup Dumplings Love

I'm drooling just thinking about the Shanghai Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings (蟹粉小籠包) I had in Hong Kong. Yes, I had pork! These dumplings I'm in love with are extra special. Btw, they're also known as Steamed Meat Buns in HK.

First off, the dumplings are special because they have inside them a flavorful broth that bursts into your mouth as you bite into them. Second, what makes them *extra* special is that they are made luxurious with the addition of crab meat and/or roe (the basic or usual version has pork only). The use of crab just adds another wonderful layer of flavor. These little babies are served steaming hot in a big bamboo basket.

Don't you just want to take a bite into these little lovelies?

The genius who came up with these dumplings was so clever that he/she probably made you think he wrapped soup inside a dumpling. For those of you who don't know the process, broth is put into a freezer to solidify, then is chopped into little pieces and wrapped inside the dumplings. When you steam them, they liquify and return to their original state.

There's a technique to eating these (I personally do not agree with it). First, drizzle some vinegar over the dumpling. Then, to avoid the soup inside from bursting out all over the place, I was told to take a small bite into the dumpling wrapper and slurp all the juice out of it. I did not agree with this technique only because I wanted to taste the meat and soup all together. I prefer making a mess for the sake of tasting everything together.

A Pork and Crab Soup Dumpling from Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant resting on its own broth - see the little specs of crab roe?

I've had soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai in NY Chinatown, but their broth was very sticky...gelatinous. This wasn't what I had in Hong Kong. I'm not saying Joe's is better or worse based on the gelatinous quality. I simply appreciate it - if a broth is made with bones, it is more intense and has a gelatinous quality. However, based on Joe's Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings alone, I would have to go with the ones from HK. I did not taste the crab at all in Joe's, nor could I tell the difference in taste between a plain pork one and a pork & crab one.

My cousin brought me to three places in HK that served very good Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings. All were tasty, but only one (see the last restaurant entry below) had a very intense crab taste. Yum!

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant (南翔饅頭店)
Shop 305-8, 3/F, Causeway Bay Plaza No. 1 (銅鑼灣 軒尼詩道489號銅鑼灣廣場1期3字樓305-8號舖)
Causeway Bay, HK

Modern China Restaurant (金滿庭京川滬菜館)
Shop 1002, 10/F, Food Forum, Times Square (銅鑼灣灣勿地臣街 1 號時代廣場10字樓1002號舖)
1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, HK

Victoria City Seafood (海都酒家)
2/FL., Sun Hung Kai Center, 30 Harbour Rd. (香港灣仔港灣道30號新鴻基中心二樓)
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

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