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Xiao Long Bao at Taiwan Cafe


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Xiao Long Bao at Taiwan Cafe

Bricoleur | May 22, 2004 03:00 PM

TC is becoming one of our default dinner places before a movie at the Loew's on the Common. After reading a bunch about soup dumplings, I finally found theirs on their menu under the appetizers, #34 Steamed Mini Buns with Pork. (It was a previous Chowhound post that mentioned they did them with crab that was the tip-off; #35 is the same thing with pork and crab.) For all that it's kind of a clever presentation, I can't say I'd go out of my way to order them again there though.

It really is a clever idea. Putting in a bit of jellied broth such that you get a steamed dumpling filled with soup is just plain cool and I could see where they'd be extremely satisfying on a cold day, the best parts of wonton soup and peking ravioli rolled into one serving. And they're cheap. TC gives you six big dumplings for your $5.95.

On the negative side, the dumpling skins were very thick, and unoiled such they tended to stick together and tear when pulled apart. This left me with a swamp of broth in the bottom of the steamer and empty dumplings several times. The pork filling wasn't bad, but the broth was so greasy as to feel like I was drinking liquified pork fat (which in thinking about it, is kind of what I was doing, but still...) The black vinegar dipping sauce helped cut this a bit, but still the mouthfeel was just a little too lipid for my taste.

I haven't written off the concept; next I'll try Wing's, and Saveur last month actually posted a recipe for them that looks like it might lend itself to some experimentation to get a broth that's light but rich at the same time. Meanwhile, I'm still searching for the ambrosial meal at Taiwan Cafe. Haven't quite found it yet but having a lot of fun in the looking.

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