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Favorite Xiao Long Bao ( soup dumplings) in Queens?

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foodwhisperer Aug 19, 2013 02:29 PM

There were very old threads on this, so I started a new one. I've had xian long bao in many places, some good some bad. Today I had excellent , if not the best at Kung Fun Xian Long Bao Restaurant on Main St.
They outer dough was perfect , plenty of soup inside and the meat was really good. I didn't have the seafood soup dumplings, but they did look real good.
The place is Shanghainese, and had a Shanghai dim sum menu. They sticky rice shumai was good, as was the map po tofu. I'm curious if anyone ever tried the xian long bao here, if so, how do they compare to other places? and what place has the best. Note: i hope no one even mentions Joe's Shanghai.

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  1. scoopG RE: foodwhisperer Aug 19, 2013 03:43 PM

    I believe the name of this place is Kung Fu and Peter Cuce wrote about it here in February:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8899...

    My report on Shanghai 33:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/891886

    Nan Xiang:
    http://www.chow.com/food-news/134336/...

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/776613

    http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/0...

    1 Reply
    1. re: scoopG
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      foodwhisperer RE: scoopG Aug 19, 2013 04:32 PM

      Thanks Scoop, yep that's the place Peter Cruce wrote about.The soup dumplings are excellent there.

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      Lau RE: foodwhisperer Aug 19, 2013 10:26 PM

      i always have liked nan xiang, in fact its the only place ive liked, but i have not tried kung fun. how does it compare to nan xiang?

      https://www.lauhound.com/2011/04/nan-...

      6 Replies
      1. re: Lau
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        foodwhisperer RE: Lau Aug 20, 2013 06:45 AM

        I'll try Nan Xiang and see how the XLB are. Kung Fu has the soy milk and many drinks. I don't think their menu is as extensive as Nan Xiang. Kung Fu is a tiny place.

        1. re: foodwhisperer
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          Lau RE: foodwhisperer Aug 20, 2013 07:17 AM

          nan xiang has soy bean milk as well (shanghainese / taiwanese breakfast items), but their menu is not that big. definitely try some of the cold apps they are quite good (see my post)

        2. re: Lau
          Peter Cuce RE: Lau Aug 20, 2013 10:23 AM

          I like Kung Fu quite a bit - it's my go-to place for XLB these days. The place is not huge but I wouldn't call it tiny at all, and in fact Kung Fu has quite a large menu - not only what's on the takeout menu, but an internal sheet with other specialties on it.

          Love their tong po pork.

          1. re: Peter Cuce
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            Lau RE: Peter Cuce Aug 20, 2013 11:21 AM

            will have to try!

            1. re: Peter Cuce
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              foodwhisperer RE: Peter Cuce Aug 21, 2013 10:15 AM

              I've been loving Kung Fu, I've been going there a lot lately. Usually all Chinese clientele. I go during lunch hours.
              That whole area I like. I go to Taiwan Cafe, Roast House, something degree, has Chinese writing and a temperature degree symbol on corner. Also Lake Pavillion, but that place is always so crowded.
              I had soup dumplings at Red Farm last night, and the soup dumplings at Kung Fu I like much more than RF. Also a much better value. The dough I thought was comparable but Kung Fu had better soup and more substantial and tastier filling.

              1. re: foodwhisperer
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                Pookipichu RE: foodwhisperer Aug 21, 2013 10:34 AM

                I actually don't like the soup dumplings at RedFarm at all. I think they're inferior to the version Joe Ng made at Chinatown Brasserie.

                I don't know if they've been modified since my last visit because the preparation has varied in my visits, but in one visit he was using saffron and it was a completely incongruous flavor and did not complement the dish at all. It was horrible.

          2. mielimato RE: foodwhisperer Aug 22, 2013 08:50 AM

            I love Kung Fu and go there regularly for lunch. However, I find their soup dumplings less satisfying than at places like nan xiang and happy beef on prince street. The wrapping is well-done--thin and sufficiently firm. I find the soup in the dumplings to be insufficiently rich and quiet watery. After eating soup dumplings, your lips should become sticky from the gelatin or at least that's what I want after eating a good soup dumpling. You don't get that at Kung Fu. My favorite things at Kung Fu are the cold dishes that they display up front. The mock chicken is especially good.

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              budcar RE: foodwhisperer Aug 22, 2013 10:06 AM

              Why disparage Joe's Shanghai? The food is good and the soup dumplings are tasty.The out the door lines speak for its popularity.It is rarely cited on this board as a Flushing destination, but I enjoy it. One other place for soup dumplings is Mekong in the mall at 156 St and Northern Blvd. It has three of my favorite dishes : seafood pho, summer rolls and soup dumplings. Dining nirvana to me.

              30 Replies
              1. re: budcar
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                Lau RE: budcar Aug 22, 2013 02:32 PM

                sorry but Joe's Shanghai's XLB are terrible, the skins are thick and gummy and the insides are heavy and greasy. Joe's lives off a reputation built a long time ago when NYers had no idea what XLB were and Joe's was the first guy on the block. This is not meant to be condescending, but you really need to have some good XLB to know exactly how bad Joe's is

                1. re: Lau
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                  Pookipichu RE: Lau Aug 22, 2013 03:40 PM

                  I have to agree that I wouldn't recommend Joe's Shanghai, the last few times I'd been there was before Nan Xiang opened. The XLB were ok, but not much care was put into them. That's my general issue with the place, not much care is put into any of the food. In the dishes, some of the vegetables were brown/wilted. The sauces were gloppy and too sweet. The staff is brusque and the place looked worse for wear even though my last visit was probably 10 years ago.

                  Joe's Shanghai is like Flushing's Taverna Kyclades. I have no idea why people queue up and wait for food there. Popularity sometimes just does not mean the food is good.

                  1. re: Pookipichu
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                    budcar RE: Pookipichu Aug 22, 2013 05:38 PM

                    Are you guys saying that the people who line up to eat at Joe's Shanghai where the favorite dish is these dumplings don't know they are getting inferior stuff? Pookipichu, you say were were last there over ten years ago and base your judgment on that long ago visit. I, by no means, think this restaurant is among Flushing's best, but it is decent.

                    1. re: budcar
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                      Pookipichu RE: budcar Aug 22, 2013 06:39 PM

                      Maybe it's better now? I wouldn't rule that out since I haven't been in a long time. I'm not challenging your experience, just that I didn't have a good experience and I personally wouldn't recommend it. There are a couple of places that I like even less that are also popular, Taverna Kyclades as I mentioned, Jackson Diner and Junior's. All of them are very popular but I don't think the food is good at any of them.

                      1. re: Pookipichu
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                        foodwhisperer RE: Pookipichu Aug 23, 2013 11:09 PM

                        I agree very much with the not being able to understand the long lines at places with "not so good" food. I've eaten at Kyclades several times but never lined up, however, I hear there are long lines. I think the choices of good Greek food is limited or non existent even in Astoria. Telly's is on same level as Kyclades. Ignanti is horrible. Uncle George's closed i think. They all are bad.
                        Magnolia Bakery is the biggest joke, I threw the Red Velvet cup cake in the garbage after one bite and waited for 20 minutes to get it.
                        Totto Ramen , I just refuse to wait in line, i hear it's good , but who waits on line for ramen?
                        Anyway, Mielimato has me thinking about my opinions on soup dumplings. I do not like Joe's, I don't like Red Farm, so on that we agree. But I do like Kung Fu's and now I'm reading that my criteria is wrong. That the soup should leave stickiness on your lips. I don't recall ever getting a stickiness on my lips from any soup dumplings. I'm not sure I would like that. Normally I say, we all have different tastes, and that's what makes us unique. But if sticky lips is a standard for soup dumplings, i'll have to readjust my opinion on Xian Long Bao.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer
                          scoopG RE: foodwhisperer Aug 24, 2013 03:06 AM

                          That the soup should leave stickiness on your lips. I don't recall ever getting a stickiness on my lips from any soup dumplings. I'm not sure I would like that. Normally I say, we all have different tastes, and that's what makes us unique. But if sticky lips is a standard for soup dumplings, i'll have to readjust my opinion on Xian Long Bao.
                          ______________________
                          foodwhisperer - can you explain this "law" or rule? Never heard of it.

                          1. re: scoopG
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                            foodwhisperer RE: scoopG Aug 24, 2013 07:40 AM

                            Scoop,,,,, i was quoting what Mielimato said to me. When i said I liked the soup dumplings at Kung Fu, Mielimato said, they were not good there. Because they did not leave the stickiness that soup dumplings were supposed to leave. I never heard of that. I don't even think I would like that. But Mielimoto sounded like some authority on the subject and I thought maybe my taste is all wrong, But I don't like Joe's shanghai, nor red farm's,, but i like Kung Fu dumpling very much. And I hope this stickiness I'm supposed to be looking for is not good information.
                            Regarding Kung Fu, Mielimoto said:"...I find their soup dumplings less satisfying than at places like nan xiang and happy beef on prince street. The wrapping is well-done--thin and sufficiently firm. I find the soup in the dumplings to be insufficiently rich and quiet watery. After eating soup dumplings, your lips should become sticky from the gelatin or at least that's what I want after eating a good soup dumpling. You don't get that at Kung Fu."

                            1. re: foodwhisperer
                              mielimato RE: foodwhisperer Aug 24, 2013 08:09 AM

                              No, don't get me wrong, the soup dumplings at Kung Fu and Nan Xiang are the best ones that I have had so far in NYC. I agree with your assessment that the wrapping at KF is excellent--thin and firm. But between the two places, I find the filling to be less rich and a bit more watery at KF than at NX. Perhaps the statement that stickiness is a criteria is too strong. I agree that good food shouldn't leave your mouth sticky and that's not necessarily a quality that one should look for. It was more a comment on the richness of the broth. Either way, I'd happily eat soup dumplings at both places anytime before Joe's.

                              BTW, has anyone tried the soup dumplings at Happy Beef (on Prince street between Sentosa and Spicy and Tasty)? It is a small nondescript place that specializes in Taiwanese food. I go there regularly for the breakfast. They have excellent soy milk breakfast dishes like bean curd, bean curd flower, sou bing, stick rice rolls, etc. They have surprisingly good soup dumplings which I think are on par with the best. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I like the place a lot and find the ladies there friendly. Somethings on the menu should NOT be ordered, however. For example, these items should be avoided--oyster pancakes and scallion pancakes. But the beef noodle soups is always a popular item. I love their stinky tofu, which I think it is the best I've had in NYC. They have a nice "small dishes" menu which include good versions of shredded pork with celery, tofu sheet with edamame and pickled greens, water spinach with shredded beef and sacha (sp?). Check the place out and let me know what you think!

                              1. re: mielimato
                                Peter Cuce RE: mielimato Aug 24, 2013 04:04 PM

                                Happy Beef used to be King 5 Noodle? I've been to the latter for Taiwanese breakfast.

                                Has anyone tried the xiaolongbao at 456 on Mott St recently? They're of the smaller variety and I think they've gotten better since they opened, along w the rest of the food there.

                                1. re: Peter Cuce
                                  scoopG RE: Peter Cuce Aug 24, 2013 05:23 PM

                                  Not that recent, but I have been a big fan of their XLB since smallh first noticed them...

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/770707

                                  1. re: Peter Cuce
                                    mielimato RE: Peter Cuce Aug 24, 2013 05:34 PM

                                    Yes I think that's right. I can't get the name straight for that place. There Taiwanese breakfast is great. The XLB was a surprise but I put it up there as a contender for one of he best.

                                    1. re: Peter Cuce
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                                      foodwhisperer RE: Peter Cuce Aug 26, 2013 02:05 PM

                                      I tried them at 456 and several other dishes. Many years ago I used to frequent 456 and was happy to see them back in action. The soup dumplings were good when I visited a couple of months ago.

                                      1. re: foodwhisperer
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                                        diprey11 RE: foodwhisperer Aug 26, 2013 03:33 PM

                                        We ate there 8 or 9 moths ago. I do like 456, and the Shanghai-style sea cucumber we ordered was absolutely perfect. A couple who sat at our round table ordered 小籠包. Admittedly, they were not particularly small and their wooden consistency suggested popularity at dinner time. My personal, uneducated opinion has been to never recommend 小籠包 at this restaurant and instead, to focus on the 蘇菜 seafood specialties of their chef.

                                        I believe Kung Fu is probably the best all around nowadays, mostly because I prefer their crab 小籠包 taste to that of the Diverse stall in the Flushing Mall.

                                        It's very clean tasting for the meat filling, and stronger and sweeter for crab & pork. The broth is not overbearing, and that's a plus IMHO; the skins are are as good as it gets.

                                  2. re: foodwhisperer
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                                    ace52387 RE: foodwhisperer Sep 15, 2013 06:26 AM

                                    There is quite a bit of collagen in xiao long bao, and that is probably what leaves a stickiness to your lips. Its not something I would look for. I'm pretty sure you can't even achieve the soups existence without it since you need something solid at fridge temp but liquid while hot.

                                    1. re: ace52387
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                                      foodwhisperer RE: ace52387 Sep 17, 2013 09:09 PM

                                      In going back to Kung Fu today for some xiao long bao, I will start by saying they were delicious. The pork dumplings were better than the crabmeat and pork in my opinion.
                                      However, this time I was looking for the "stickiness" I never even thought about. I think I know what mielmoto meant. It's not really a stickiness but just a feeling you get on your tongue. Not on your lips. Just a bit of a glutinous feel. Hard to explain, but it is not unpleasant at all. Anyway, the soup dumplings here are fantastic. Someone mentioned a place up the the street that was good, but I couldn't find any place that had xiao long bao within 2 blocks of kung fu

                                  3. re: scoopG
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                                    Pookipichu RE: scoopG Aug 24, 2013 08:26 AM

                                    I think "stickiness" is not the right word but I understand what foodwhisperer is saying. For me, it's not "stickiness" it's mouth coating. The gelatin has a rich mouth feel that lightly coats the mouth much like butter or oil but less oily. It is a textural sensation that is part of what makes xiao long bao so satisfying and addictive. The high gelatin content is very pleasing. Same principle behind the stock for many Chinese "two week" soups.

                                    1. re: Pookipichu
                                      scoopG RE: Pookipichu Aug 24, 2013 08:46 AM

                                      There are two types of gelatin. One is the natural aspic that is created when making hearty banquet stocks. I believe that Chinese restaurants go through too much stock to generate the amount of aspic laden stock needed to solidify the dollops in the huge numbers of XLB's they make every day so they will also use plain gelatin.

                                      1. re: scoopG
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                                        Pookipichu RE: scoopG Aug 24, 2013 09:01 AM

                                        You misread my post, I'm talking about the properties of gelatin, dishes that also use gelatin for similar effect. I am not and did not refer to what kind of gelatin they use or how they get it.

                                        1. re: Pookipichu
                                          scoopG RE: Pookipichu Aug 24, 2013 10:27 AM

                                          I am just thinking about the possible differences between mouth feel and the qualities of stickiness in the different broth mixtures.

                                  4. re: foodwhisperer
                                    Peter Cuce RE: foodwhisperer Aug 24, 2013 04:57 AM

                                    Don't throw Totto Ramen into the discussion! It's actually pretty good. And you don't always have to wait.

                                    1. re: Peter Cuce
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                                      foodwhisperer RE: Peter Cuce Aug 24, 2013 07:42 AM

                                      If Totto Ramen has no line when I am near there, i will surely try it. I've watched the chef/owner make soba from scratch and have eaten that. I was quite impressed.

                                2. re: budcar
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                                  Lau RE: budcar Aug 22, 2013 08:29 PM

                                  yes that is exactly what im saying...people still line up at magnolia's for the same reason

                                  1. re: budcar
                                    Chandavkl RE: budcar Sep 9, 2013 10:23 AM

                                    Absolutely. The longest lines in San Francisco Chinatown by far are to be found at House of Nanking. Of the 125 or so Chinese restaurants in San Francisco Chinatown, House of Nanking ranks in the bottom 10. (Check out San Francisco board for discussions.) However, due to hype and ignorance they have the biggest following.

                                    1. re: Chandavkl
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                                      Lau RE: Chandavkl Sep 9, 2013 10:25 AM

                                      oh yah that place is quite famous, i ate there once a long time ago, i think when i was in high school...its in all sorts of tourist guides etc

                                  2. re: Pookipichu
                                    Steve R RE: Pookipichu Aug 23, 2013 01:57 AM

                                    Hey, stick to the topic! I fully agree about Joe's but lay off Kyclades, as I still love the place. If you wish, you can use Grimaldi's pizza as the parallel instead. :-)

                                    1. re: Steve R
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                                      Pookipichu RE: Steve R Aug 23, 2013 07:25 AM

                                      How could I forget Grimaldi's? I still see huge lines there... people must really like polly-o cheese and toppings from a can.

                                      1. re: Pookipichu
                                        mielimato RE: Pookipichu Aug 23, 2013 07:46 AM

                                        To each his own. You got to wonder how many of these people are out of towners who rely on guides like Fodor's or Frommers for recs. Grimaldis and Joe Shanghai may be the most authentic kinds of foods they have ever had access to. For people who are not in "the know" and have the luxury of living in a place like NYC where the options are endless, these places offer a friendly and accessible introduction to new types of foods. Good for them for trying something adventurous and not lining up at Johnny Rockets and Pizzeria Uno. Before being introduced to Spanish cuisine, I use to make paella with OLIVES. I think my husband, who is from Barcelona, barfed in his mouth when I told him. As long as my favorite places stay line-free, I'm a happy camper.

                                        1. re: Pookipichu
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                                          foodwhisperer RE: Pookipichu Aug 27, 2013 10:18 PM

                                          I heard Grimaldi's moved and couldn't get a permit for a brick oven . Not sure if that's true or not.
                                          I am no fan of Grimaldi's or the lines. However, One good thing about Polly-O is that it stretches great.

                                          1. re: foodwhisperer
                                            Steve R RE: foodwhisperer Aug 28, 2013 04:10 AM

                                            It moved 2 doors down to the corner (much bigger place) and, however they managed to wrangle it, have an oven as good as previously. In its place, the original Grimaldi's owners re-opened as Juliana's, with the original oven. I have not been to Grimaldi's since their move, but the lines are now in front of their new place and another line (smaller) is in front of Juliana's, where I have been and liked.

                                            1. re: foodwhisperer
                                              hambone RE: foodwhisperer Sep 17, 2013 01:23 PM

                                              My understanding is it is the "coal fired" not the "brick oven" which you can't get permitted for now a days.

                                  3. Peter Cuce RE: foodwhisperer Aug 26, 2013 03:50 PM

                                    I tried Shanghai Cuisine 33 a couple of nights ago - it's located a block over and across the street from Kung Fu, but still in Queensborough Hill. The crab/pork xiaolongbao were the crabbiest I've had in New York, with significant crab flavor and meat evident, and fairly thin wrappers. Unfortunately the soup, while having traces of the gelatin as mentioned by @mielimato, was otherwise watery and not very flavorful. The pork version strangely had much thicker wrappers and similar unflavorful soup.
                                    Their crunchy fried fish had too much sauce and was a fairly muddy lake fish (they call it Yellow Fish). I enjoyed the noodle soup that comes with a side of pork prepared similarly to tonkatsu on the side, not sure what it was called. I haven't had it before.
                                    Probably my favorite thing was the gratis bowl of peanuts served with a sweet, fermented sauce. I've never had anything quite like it.
                                    Photos: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjHLibkz

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                                      budcar RE: foodwhisperer Sep 11, 2013 09:59 PM

                                      I've had the soup buns at Mekong on 156St and Northern Blvd. thought they were very good and would put in a recommendation for them. I've seen them served along with dimsum at Lake Pavillion.I was too filled to try them but am wondering how they stack up in the soup bun contest. Anyone?

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: budcar
                                        Peter Cuce RE: budcar Sep 12, 2013 04:11 AM

                                        Lake Pavilion terrible. Mekong ok.

                                        1. re: budcar
                                          DarthEater RE: budcar Sep 17, 2013 01:08 PM

                                          I find the skin at Mekong thick and the crab flavor lacking. The filling was all pork with a bit of yellow-orange food coloring on the center of the bun. If one had to travel far with these soup buns, I would think these would survive the trip without breakage. In a pinch, these would do if I was craving for soup buns without the headache of parking in Flushing.

                                          1. re: DarthEater
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                                            budcar RE: DarthEater Sep 18, 2013 03:26 AM

                                            The skin is definitely not thick. I believe Mekong has the standard pork only and pork with crabmeat fillings offered. Perhaps you received the pork only which accounted for the "lack of crabmeat" I do agree that its location is a major plus.

                                            1. re: budcar
                                              DarthEater RE: budcar Sep 18, 2013 01:45 PM

                                              I went last friday and our buns had the golden yellow dot on top to differentiate it from the plain pork buns. Perhaps it was a different chef that made our buns, but that day it was definitely thick in comparison to Nan Xiang.

                                              1. re: budcar
                                                ZenFoodist RE: budcar Dec 5, 2013 06:58 AM

                                                Mekong, I'm fairly certain you all know, is owned by the same family that has Nanxiang XLB on Prince as well as Corner 28, Canton Gourmet, pho bang, green Papaya. I'm always told that the same people who make the XLB on Prince Street make them at Mekong. They taste heavier at Mekong in my humble opinion.

                                                1. re: ZenFoodist
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                                                  Lau RE: ZenFoodist Dec 5, 2013 07:20 AM

                                                  i mean physically how is that possible? you can see the people making the XLB to order at nan xiang

                                                  1. re: Lau
                                                    ZenFoodist RE: Lau Dec 5, 2013 12:51 PM

                                                    Different people all the time at different hours. I have never seen the same people from Nanxiang and I am in that center every day because it's right by my home. Now with Duane Reade suddenly closing, I won't be there as much, but it's always been a fixture for me. Halal guy's food outside the parking lot is really solid by the way!

                                                    1. re: ZenFoodist
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                                                      Lau RE: ZenFoodist Dec 5, 2013 01:15 PM

                                                      ah interesting

                                          2. Miss Needle RE: foodwhisperer Dec 2, 2013 08:23 AM

                                            Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao's xlb are terrific. Love their thin delicate skins that doesn't break easily. Just wish the crab ones were a bit crabbier.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Miss Needle
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                                              foodwhisperer RE: Miss Needle Dec 2, 2013 08:37 PM

                                              I agree, the crab ones are not as good as the pork ones. But the Pork( I think its pork and shrimp) ones are so good,,,

                                            2. m
                                              Matt M. RE: foodwhisperer Dec 23, 2013 06:21 PM

                                              While not in Queens, or NYC, I can't say enough about the soup dumplings (and everything else) at Petite Soo Chow in Cliffside ., NJ

                                              1. j
                                                JFores RE: foodwhisperer Jan 3, 2014 01:25 PM

                                                I have Kung Fu a shot the other night and I was impressed, but it wasn't blow me away good.

                                                The crab and pork ($6.50 I believe) was only a dollar more than the pork only version and it was far superior. I was surprised by that as I generally prefer pork only xiao long bao.

                                                I thought the thickness on the skins was good and the soup was flavorful on both, but only the crab and pork seemed to have good filling as well.

                                                I haven't been to Nan Xiang in nearly 2 years (I tried to go the other night but the queue was immense) so I need to get back there to compare.

                                                My immediate instinct on Kung Fu is that you have to truly beat the champion to be the champion (or that you need a superior theory to replace the one you're debunking if you want to get all econ about this) so I need to try Nan Xiang again and then give Kung Fu a second go.

                                                Pretty good though! Glad to have it close by (and the parking is unnaturally merciful on that end of Flushing.)

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: JFores
                                                  Peter Cuce RE: JFores Jan 3, 2014 02:23 PM

                                                  Why should there only be one good place? Shouldn't we be blessed with many great XLB restaurants?

                                                  1. re: Peter Cuce
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                                                    foodwhisperer RE: Peter Cuce Jan 4, 2014 11:55 PM

                                                    The more the better! and I like that each place is slightly different from the next, whether it be the filling the broth or the wrapper

                                                    1. re: foodwhisperer
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                                                      stuartlafonda RE: foodwhisperer Apr 11, 2014 01:12 PM

                                                      Been to Kung Fu twice in the last three weeks and it was excellent. Wrapper is indeed among the thinnest. Had the pork and crab. Enjoyed it a little more then Shanghai Asian Manor at 21 Mott which I believe is a sister spot to the Shanghai 33 discussed above. Both are excellent. My son also loved the scallion pancake and beef at Kung Fu.

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