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Shanghai (Soup) Dumplings in DC Area?

mrhonest Jun 17, 2008 11:32 AM

A search of the site revealed that Chinatown Express is the only place serving this dish. I have been to Chinatown Express several time and have been disappointed by the dumpling, no where close to how good it is in Shanghai or even Joe's Shanghai in NYC. Is Chinatown Express still the only place in the DC Metro area where I can get these dumplings?

Also I saw some mention of being able to buy these in Chinese Supermarkets, if this is the case can some one be specifc as to which chinese supermarket and what the package looks like?


  1. d
    dpan Jun 17, 2008 12:16 PM

    You can get xiao long bao at A&J. They're not great, but okay if you must have some. As for the supermarket ones in the freezer, they won't equal what you get in a restaurant, but for the price will work if you got the hankering for some. Ask the people in the market which ones they like. And you'll need to get a bamboo steamer to make them properly.

    5 Replies
    1. re: dpan
      DanielK Jun 17, 2008 01:05 PM

      Second A&J - good, but not great. Chinatown Express has gone way downhill in the past 2 years - it's off my recommended list.

      Bob's 88 Shabu Shabu has very good xiao long bao on the menu.

      So does Shanghai Cafe, but they're way way out in the western part of Potomac in MoCo.

      1. re: DanielK
        Ericandblueboy Jun 17, 2008 02:35 PM

        Peking Village on Gallows has them. The Chinese grocery store next door also carries them frozen.

      2. re: dpan
        Soup Jun 17, 2008 04:46 PM

        I like A&J a lot. But this dish I believe is average relative to the good/great soup dumplings I've had in NY and SF.

        As for chinatown express vs. A&J (since those are the two place I know of this dumpling in DC area), I got to go with the express.

        1. re: Soup
          DanielK Jun 17, 2008 05:59 PM

          My complaint about express is that I haven't had a dumpling that had any "soup" still in it in more than 2 years. The skins are gummy and they're carelessly prepared.

          I was at A&J (Rockville) on Monday, and all of my dumplings had liquid inside.

          1. re: DanielK
            deangold Jun 18, 2008 05:37 AM

            Bob's Shabu Shabu's soup dumplings can vary a lot from visit to visit. Lately their house dumplings in spicy sauce have been wonderful with a really juicy filling, that while not soup dumpling juicy, may be my favorite juicy dumplings in DC.

            I too prefer A&J to China Town Express these days as CTE has gone sadly downhill. Used to be a favorite spot. A&J's juicy buns are more like the ones I used to get in LA: juicy without the spurt of soup in a great NYC dumpling.

      3. hill food Jun 18, 2008 12:57 AM

        if you try to make them at home, the trick is to do the soup filling as a gelatin or aspic before wrapping and it melts when you cook.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hill food
          deangold Jun 18, 2008 05:39 AM

          Another trick is to have some clarified pork fat (ie homemade lard) to blend into the aspic for a truly decadent dish. Gently simmer pork fat back (not salt pork) in water till the fat renders and the water boils off. This can be done stove top or in the oven, but use gentle heat.

        2. f
          FoodieGrrl Jun 18, 2008 09:42 AM

          Supermarket tip: Great Wall in Merrifield has a decent version. In the frozen section, in the "coffin" style freezers is the kind I like. It comes 12 (possibly 16 - can't remember - having a senior moment...) to a pack, in a plastic clamshell container with indented compartments for each dumpling. I believe they are packaged with a simple Great Wall brand sticker and are called Steamed Pork Dumplings. You'll be able to tell because they have that signature round dumpling with the little dent in the top look to them.

          Also, I hate my bamboo steamer, so I've taken to using the metal steamer insert that came with one of my pots. Spray a little non-stick cooking spray on it, and the buns won't stick.

          And, fwiw, the pan fried beef bun (or what my bf calls "the beef hockey puck") at A&J usually has a lot of that soup in it, though it isn't steamed, and it's only one to an order.

          3 Replies
          1. re: FoodieGrrl
            Ericandblueboy Jun 18, 2008 10:11 AM

            Or you can do it the Chinese way, put some napa cabbage on the bottom of your steamer.

            1. re: Ericandblueboy
              FoodieGrrl Jun 18, 2008 02:03 PM

              Yeah, but then the rest of the cabbage goes bad because I never use it for anything else! Plus, I've actually found that the bottom of the dumpling has better structural integrity using the non-stick spray than it does with the cabbage.

              1. re: Ericandblueboy
                Soup Jun 19, 2008 05:10 PM

                wet paper towel also works great.

            2. Chandavkl Jun 18, 2008 11:44 AM

              Chinatown Express is essentially a Cantonese restaurant (DC Chinatown is predominantly Cantonese) and while some Cantonese dim sum restaurants might make a decent XLB, you normally don't do well with non-Cantonese dishes, such as XLB, at Cantonese restaurants. That's why you're better off at the Taiwanese oriented restaurants in the suburbs such as A&J or Bob's 88.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Chandavkl
                mrhonest Jun 20, 2008 10:27 AM

                Thanks for all the tips, I am definitely going to check out A&J and Peaking Village. Heading to NYC and Joe's Shanghai tonight just for the soup dumplings, I guess that is dedication. Will report back on what I find at these restaurants and supermarkets.

                1. re: mrhonest
                  rheelee Jun 20, 2008 10:38 AM

                  I love Joe's Shanghai and have made visits to NYC just for their soup dumplings too. Hot from the steamer with vinegar and ginger...yum! Unfortunately, we don't have anything in the DC area (yet) that compares.

                  1. re: mrhonest
                    Ericandblueboy Jun 20, 2008 11:47 AM

                    That is dedication. I've been meaning to go to NYC to check out Momofuku but that hasn't happened yet.

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