Around the Lunar New Year, the Chinese traditionally dine with an eye to the future, favoring symbolic lucky foods like noodles for long life and jiaozi dumplings shaped like gold ingots for prosperity. But the dumplings perennially craved by New York Chowhounds are more about instant gratification—the gush of hot savory soup from Shanghai-style steamed xiao long bao (soup dumplings) or their pan-fried cousins, sheng jian bao. Here, in alphabetical order, are nine go-to spots for soup buns.
1. 456 SHANGHAI CUISINE
69 Mott Street (between Canal and Bayard streets), Manhattan
Fluffy, crisp sheng jian bao, full of soup and strewn with scallion and sesame, are a highlight at 456, the descendant of a long-closed Chinatown restaurant of the same name.
2. DIVERSE DIM SUM
In the Flushing Mall food court, 133-31 39th Avenue (between College Point Boulevard and Prince Street), Flushing, Queens
A failing shopping center destined for demolition is the unlikely home to a vendor who makes delicious, delicate crab-and-pork xiao long bao.
3. NAN XIANG XIAO LONG BAO
38-12 Prince Street (between 38th and 39th avenues), Flushing, Queens
Uncommonly light dough encloses a flavorful meat filling and abundant broth in New York hounds' consensus favorite soup bun. Don't miss excellent cold appetizers like spicy pig ear and beef tendon.
4. OLD SHANGHAI DELUXE
50 Mott Street (at Bayard Street), Manhattan
Nicely crisped sheng jian bao and thin-skinned pork xiao long bao, with a loose, luscious filling, both hit the spot at this restaurant in the heart of Chinatown.
5. OLD SICHUAN
65 Bayard Street (between Mott and Elizabeth streets), Manhattan
Stellar xiao long bao, distinguished by unusually thin wrappers, are a surprising outlier on a menu of Sichuanese dishes.
529 Hudson Street (between Charles and W. 10th streets), Manhattan
Dim sum master Joe Ng, a longtime Chowhound superstar, crafts fragrant, flavorful soup dumplings of saffron-scented wrappers filled with pork belly and crab—and, this time of year, a luxe variation with chicken and black truffle.
7. SHANGHAI ASIAN MANOR
21 Mott Street (near Mosco Street), Manhattan
Plump, juicy soup buns have won fans here and at sister restaurant Shanghai Asian Cuisine a few blocks away on Elizabeth Street.
8. SHANGHAI HEPING
104 Mott Street (between Canal and Hester streets), Manhattan
One of Chinatown's newer Shanghai restaurants turns out first-rate sheng jian bao, bursting with broth and beautifully crisp on the bottom.
9. THE STANTON SOCIAL
99 Stanton Street (between Orchard and Ludlow streets), Manhattan
A world away from Shanghai, these fried dumplings filled with rich onion soup and topped with oven-browned Gruyère are a runaway hit with downtown night crawlers.
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