I <3 Chinese soup dumplings.
And locally, the place to get it is Din Tai Fung (pronounced “din_ty_fung”) dumpling house in Arcadia, CA. Actually – I must say that I REALLY <3 Din Tai Fung Beijing and Hong Kong where I first fell in love with the beautiful, utter perfection of the xiao long bao (juicy pork soup dumplings pronounced “zao-long-bao”). Each made by hand by “dumpling artisans” as I’ll call them – they fold each xiao long bao into precise 18 folds. Place gently on a soup spoon, poke lightly with your chopstick until the warm, savory umami broth spills out, place soy-sauce soaked slivered ginger, slip the broth/dumpling into your mouth and experience the addictive, luscious unctuousness. See how the bottoms of the dumplings sag a bit? That’s the soup ready to jump out and into your mouth.
It seems to be the craze now with mentions of soup dumplings in NYT, Joe’s Shanghai in Flushing, NY and even a Din Tai Fung that just opened in Seattle. And a recent visit to the Arcadia location revealed not one but TWO locations in the same shopping center (recently visited by Erika from Erika’s Kitchen) where she tried to get the hang of eating the soup dumplings. Both of the locations last Saturday had a 30-45 min wait – each location working independently – so get a number for a table at one location & get wait time…walk all the way around to the other location and get their wait time and see which one’s shorter.
The secret is the gelatinous cubes of cured or frozen concentrated broth as beautifully illustrated by blogger Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. I usually get this gelatinous action going on when I put leftover chicken soup or oxtail soup in the fridge. It jiggles in its glorious unctousness and melts beautifully when you heat it up, which is what happens when you steam the dumplings.
One of these days, I’ll attempt making it from scratch at home but I don’t think I’ll have the patience for the 18 folds for each dumpling. I’ll stick with my dumplings a la store-bought wonton skins and rather drive an hour and wait for 30-45 min for my soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung, thank you very much.
I’ll be back, very soon, DTF.