Friday, March 09, 2007

The Tao of Dumplings

I was going to call this post “Spreading the Gospel of Dumplings,” but that seemed culturally inappropriate on several levels.

A few days ago Pipi and I went to Crown Wok, the new Chinese place I found with Shanghai dumplings. They were good! Maybe not quite as good as at the Oakland restaurant called Shanghai, but still, a middling Shanghai dumpling is worth driving downtown for.

Maybe you’re wondering what a Shanghai dumpling is. I know I’ve described them before; they’re small steamed dumplings that somehow have broth sealed inside. (Here’s a link to a photo: I’ve also heard them called “soup dumplings.” In Mandarin, their name is “xiao long bao:” “little dragon dumplings.” That might be the only Chinese you really need to know in China. (Most other things you can mime, point to, or explain in rudimentary English.) They’re everywhere in Shanghai. They’re usually served as an appetizer, but I often said I could eat a whole pile of them for dinner. And several times I ended up wishing I had because what came next usually couldn’t compare. It’s like starting with dessert first. You just don’t want the salad after that.

(A small disappointment regarding Crown Wok: When I went there today, they didn’t have bubble tea as advertised. I feel a little misled, but there are so many places to find it in nearby Chinatown that I got over it quickly.)

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