Of these I think I want to try….
#1 the LASalle Dumpling Room up near Columbia, #10 Shanghai Heping on Mott Street , #12 Deluxe Green Bo on Bayard Street. There are plenty in flushing to try but I’m not headed out to Flushing anytime soon. We have been to #5 Kung Fu Xio Long Bao twice… fabulous – delicious crispy duck, wonderful string beans, and really good and spicy shredded pork with garlic, as well as the soup dumpling.
13 Exemplary Chinese Soup Dumplings in NYC
Slurpable, savory, and full of pleasure
Soup dumplings, also known by their Chinese name of xiao long bao (or XLB for short), were first popularized in New York City over 20 years ago by Joe’s Shanghai. But these soup-filled purses with a tiny pork meatball inside, and sometimes a wad of crabmeat on top, have a far longer history. They originatedin the Shanghai suburb of Nanxiang around 1875, and quickly took their place among Shanghai’s other dumpling styles. The secret: a gelatin-laced filling that turns liquid during steaming.
In fact, the best ones usually arrive in a bamboo steamer, and eating them requires some skill: Gingerly lift the dumpling onto your spoon by its topknot with the tongs provided or with chopsticks, nip off the knot with your teeth, suck out the broth, pour in the black vinegar-and-ginger sauce if you like, then eat the remainder. Just let them cool first — trust.
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
1. La Salle Dumpling Room
This modern canteen near Columbia University specializes in soup dumplings in three variations, including one featuring kimchi. The crab-bearing XLB are the best, boasting crab mixed in with the usual pork filling. Somewhat small and squat, they pack a powerful flavor, with a gravy more viscous than average. Besides dumplings, La Salle offers noodles and Cantonese stir fries.
2. You Garden Xiao Long Bao
This second, more luxuriant branch of a Shanghai dumpling specialist in Flushing (Shanghai You Garden) offers the best soup dumplings in the city, with some particularly crabby pork-and-crab examples, in addition to other venerable Shanghai types of buns and dumplings. It has also jumped on the mega-XLB bandwagon, offering an outsize example (shown), one to a steamer, with a plastic straw to suck a huge quantity of soup out. The dumpling skin is super thick, resembling more of a bread bowl than a dumpling.
3. Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao
38-12 Prince St
Flushing, NY 11354(718) 321-3838Visit Website
For a decade, the lines have stretched out the door at this modest Flushing dumpling house, which was once said to have the best XLB in town. They’re offered in the usual two varieties alongside rice cakes, noodles, and breakfast specialties. The juicy buns are indeed thin-skinned and wonderfully wobbly, with the crab variation featuring a good quantity of crustacean inside the filling and on top — though the palm has passed to other providers as far as first-place soup dumplings goes.
4. Yaso Tangbao
220 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017(917) 261-6970Visit Website
This local mini-chain with two branches in Brooklyn and one in Midtown specializes in Shanghai street fare, with a special emphasis on dumplings and noodles. What that means as far as XLB go is a free hand with invention and variation. Aside from the usual, there’s a black soup dumpling made with medicinal chickens and another with a spicy soup inside. A goofy specialized plastic spoon, pictured, is provided.
5. Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao
59-16 Main St
Flushing, NY 11355(718) 661-2882Visit Website
This delightful spot with plenty of blonde wood chairs is one of a small collection of Taiwanese restaurants just north of the Long Island Expressway. The XLB here are carefully made with a particularly rich gravy, and don’t be deterred that only one of the crab versions of the dumplings has a wad on top: The rest have a generous quantity mixed inside with the pork.
6. Shanghai Zhen Gong Fu
When Shanghai Zhen Gong Fu popped up earlier this year in Elmhurst’s big-box shopping district, it was a surprise. It offers the usual Shanghai menu with a bit of extra luxury, including a version of soup dumplings with black truffle instead of yellow crab topside. Since the truffle is canned, there’s not much extra flavor, but the variation is worth noting. The regular XLB are good here, too.
529 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014(212) 792-9700Visit Website
RedFarm’s soup dumpling is more of the luxury variety, priced at $16 for four. Each one gets an individual steamer basket, filled with a pork and crab mixture; a truffle version is occasionally on offer. The skin here is particularly thin, with plentiful amounts of separated broth and meat. Supplement with the pastrami-filled egg roll and barbecue roast duck rice noodles, at either the West Village or Upper West Side locations.
8. The Bao
13 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003(212) 388-9238Visit Website
The Bao’s very popular soup dumplings are back after a brief absence for quality control. Beyond the “near-perfect” classic pork-filled pouches, there are also ones filled with a melty chocolate and banana mixture. The East Village Chinese restaurant is a spin-off of Flushing’s Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao, serving an across-the-board Chinese menu of dim sum, Sichuan dishes like cumin lamb, Cantonese classics such as beef and broccoli, and others from Hunan and beyond.
9. Memories Of Shanghai
68-60 Austin St #10A
Forest Hills, NY 11375(718) 880-2938Visit Website
In newer Chinese food destination Forest Hills, an alum of soup dumpling stalwarts like Joe’s and Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao opened his own restaurant on Austin Street in 2018, bringing his soup dumpling prowess with him. Owner-chef Xueling Zhang is known for stand-out versions of both a classic pork and a pork with crab meat. It’s counter-service and doesn’t have a ton of seating, but it’s already a local hit.
10. Shanghai Heping
104 Mott St
New York, NY 10013(212) 925-1118Visit Website
For years, two large and distinguished Shanghai restaurants stood almost side-by-side on Mott just north of Canal, Shanghai Café Deluxe and Shanghai Heping, providing fierce competition where soup dumplings were concerned. Now the first of those is closed, leaving Shanhai Heping (named after a public park in Shanghai) to prevail. Its dumplings are very good, with a particularly rich dipping sauce that doesn’t stint on the black vinegar and fresh ginger.
11. 456 Shanghai Cuisine
69 Mott St A
New York, NY 10013(212) 964-0003Visit Website
456 Shanghai Cuisine is probably the best soup dumpling bargain in town. Founded in 1963, it claims to be our oldest Shanghai restaurant. The dumplings are bulbous and perfectly formed, with a skin a bit thicker than usual, and a gravy slightly on the sweet side. At eight for $5.50, they’re the cheapest at this level of homemade quality.
12. Deluxe Green Bo
66 Bayard St
New York, NY 10013(212) 625-2359Visit Website
Watch women pleat and fold dumplings right at the entrance to Deluxe Green Bo, and then order them by the basket. Chances are, the table will end up wanting an extra order of the super-porky dumplings that have a very savory broth inside the thin skins. First Nice, then New, and now Deluxe Green Bo, the restaurant has been a Shanghainese Chinatown staple for years.
13. Shanghai Dumpling House, Fei Long Market
This anchoring stall in the Fei Long Market’s food court, wonderfully close to the Eighth Avenue N stop in Sunset Park’s Chinatown, has what might be the best soup dumplings in town. These are the no-frills article, available in six variations, some surprising, including one filled with pork and crab roe, and another featuring vegetables and mushrooms. Six to an order, the dumplings are bigger than usual and exceedingly thin-skinned, packing an improbable quantity of soup.