Today a few friends and I conducted a dumpling marathon: it was a beautiful day; we came prepared for dumpling-delirium; and we had our roadmap ready. Here is a breakdown of our tour and our opinions.
1) Fu Zhou - Eldridge and Broome
I've been told that this place does not cater to "American tastes" and that I should avoid it - so of course I really wanted to try it. We ordered the steamed pork tripe and leek dumplings, which I saw them making with white vinegar, an ingredient avoided in many dumpling places, and one that I love.
Our verdict - we really liked these, and they set the standard for the day. The skin was very thin and the meat slightly tangy from the vinegar.
2) Vanessa's Dumplings - Eldridge between Broome and Grand
This, sadly, was the loser of the day. We got the fried pork and leek dumplings, which we found doughy and not nearly as flavorful as Fu Zhou. We also tried the boiled shrimp dumplings, even though I tend to avoid shrimp in these places. We weren't crazy about the shrimp either.
3) Prosperity Dumplings - Eldridge and Hester
This was by far the easiest and quickest of the day, and our second favorite. The fried pork dumplings had spent a bit longer in the fryer and had a nice crispy bottom. The filling was flavorful and the dough was not too thick. If you're in the area and want quick, good dumplings, this would be the place to go.
3) Super Taste - Eldridge and Canal
We got the steamed pork dumplings. The wait was long and it was a bit awkward to order to go, as everyone else was seated. These dumplings were okay, but not great - we all agreed the dough was too slimy.
4) Lan Zhou Handmade Noodle - E Broadway and Pike
This was winner of the day. The fried dumplings were crispy but not greasy, the leeks were larger, the dough was thin. Really, these were perfect pork dumplings. That all said, they were really not set up for a bunch of us walking in and ordering dumplings to go - we got a lot of weird looks and questioning glances. Oh, well - it was worth it.
5) Shanghai Cafe - Mott between Canal and Hester
At this point in the tour we shifted to soup dumplings.
At Shanghai Cafe we ordered the crab and pork dumplings, which were phenomenal. These are my new favorite soup dumplings. We also got spicy big ear, cabbage and wakame salad since the minimim bill was $20 to sit. This, however, ended up being our downfall - we didn't quite make it through the entire tour...
For the record, pig ear is delicious.
6) Nice Green Bo - Bayard and Mott
The soup dumplings ("tiny juicy buns") here are also delicious, but I think Shanghai Cafe's were better.
7) Joe's Shanghai - Bowery south of Bayard
So our end goal was Joe's Shanghai but, sadly, we got distracted by the pork buns at Mei Li Wah and suddenly we were all too full to continue. We decided to save Shanghai Joe's for another night....though I must say, I could have done it...my friends are wimps!