Sunday, November 25, 2007

Slurping My Way Through Chinatown

I love a good theme. Mix tapes containing only songs with cities as their title. Costume parties where everyone has to dress as their favorite rock star. I’m always in. And today? A Chinatown soup dumpling crawl. This afternoon of theme based gluttony was sponsored by a coworker who, earlier this year (during a time of much warmer weather), also brought me the Chinatown pan fried dumpling crawl. He is fast becoming my favorite person.

For those of you not living in an area with a thriving Chinese community might I recommend moving? Because seriously you people are missing out. Soup dumplings are a dollop of meat filling (usually pork) floating in a sea of rich broth encased inside of a thick dumpling wrapper. They are amazing. During our romp around Chinatown there was much talk (between the slurping and moaning in pleasure) about just how they get the broth tucked away in the belly of the dumpling (a more ethnic and perhaps higher brow version of the “how do they get the crème in the twinkie?” debate) and the most likely answer seemed to involve a cube of frozen broth instead of a stock filled syringe but Wikipedia claims that both hypothesizes wrong. Apparently the broth is the result of a meat gelatin alone which when heated melts into a satisfying greasy sauce -- this might not sound appetizing but does explain the richness (and also exactly why the broth drippings were so quick to congeal on my plate). I promise that if you eat a soup dumpling you will not find that last sentence anything other than delicious.

The first stop on the soup dumpling crawl was the overflow location for New York’s most famous soup dumpling-ary Joe’s Shanghai, Joe’s Ginger at 25 Pell. We were brought 2 orders of traditional pork soup dumplings and one order of a pork and crab combo both of which were lovely though there were some incidences of perhaps less than well done pork.

Our next stop at Goodies at 1 East Broadway offered the most impressive showing for soup dumpling variety and we took full advantage ordering FIVE types of dumplings. Sadly when the bamboo baskets arrived at the table all of the dumplings had such a uniform look that we were unable to distinguish the three delight from the seafood until the broth hit our tongues. No matter since all were also uniformly scrumptious. Goodies also brought us a bowl full of fortune cookies at the end of our second stop on the dumpling-fest via which I received this notification.

By 2pm Shanghai café at 100 Mott was so packed that we elected to take our dumplings on the road. And so the crawl ended with the 9 of us munching on pork and pork and crab dumplings in Columbus Park. The broth in the Shanghai dumplings was by far the most flavorful and gently sucking it from our its doughy pocket while sitting under a clear November sky was a wonderful way to end a long American weekend that honors gluttony.

I love turkey and mashed potatoes and most of all stuffing but this year I am thankful to reside in the land of exotic edible delights. God bless New York City.


Peter DeWolf said...

Mix tapes containing only songs with cities as their title.

I LOVE stuff like that.

And, of course, am compiling a mental list.

Lisa said...

My friend just discovered a place called China Legend! Doesn't that sound... legendary? Of course, I'll stick to fried rice and possible a spring roll... but I'm TRYING here.