The past couple of times I've been to NYC I have tried getting into Joe's Shanghai. There was always a line out the door, and at least an hour-long wait. So when we happened to be in Chinatown on a Monday afternoon, imagine my delight! Famous for the "soup dumpling," Joe's Shanghai is a bit of a New York establishment...
I should have done my research ahead of time. Instead we went in without a clue (like most tourists.) We were seated at a round communal table, and given chopsticks and some green tea. The menu was somewhat baffling. Although the restaurant is known for the "soup dumplings" these items were not prominently featured on the menu. I flipped through for a while before asking the waiter for help. I was given a cross 'you-look-Chinese-but-can't-speak-the-language?' stare and after much confusion, the waiter made my order for me.
The Xiao Long Bao or, "little dumplings basket," arrived fresh in a bamboo steamer. They were round, symmetrical things, that supposedly resemble a pagoda shape. Observing my neighbors, I decided the best way to eat them was to plop a dumpling on my spoon, nibble off the top, drizzle in some of the vinegary sauce, and then suck the meaty broth from the steaming pouch. Afterwards I could munch away at the delicious little crab and pork meatball and the yummy doughy wrapper.
Other specialty dishes at Joe's Shanghai include, the shredded turnip shortcake, a variety of seafood options, braised duck and Shanghai fried bean curd (this one was delicious!)
Please note: Dine carefully on the "soup dumplings" as these little pouches of steaming hot liquid can result in severe tongue burning!
9 Pell Street
New York, New York 10013
Image by cartoonist, Robert Zimmerman lifted from www.joeshanghairestaurants.com.