In San Francisco, my normal place of abode, there is a plenitude of walk-away dim sum storefronts in our Chinatowns where you can grab your siu mai, har gow or cha siu bao for a quick nosh. In New York, the buzz seems to be about places serving northern Chinese dumplings for a song. On my recent brief annual swing through New York I decided to put my perennial xiaolong bao quest on the back steamer and check out some of the dumpling stalls. With limited time and other meal commitments, I only managed to check out four (not counting two recidivist xiaolong bao samplings), half on each side of the East River.
Dumpling House (Tianjin Potstickers, in Chinese) on Eldridge St. in Chinatown was my favorite of the four overall. I am of a view that street-legal meat-filled dumplings must have a satisfying greasiness, but this should come from animal fat within, not from the oil the dumplings are cooked in, and Dumpling House's potstickers met the mark. They were nicely browned on the bottom but not too greasy to the touch, and juicy and savory when bit into. I also spotted Tasty Dumpling on Mulberry Street, which appeared to be a cousin of Dumpling House, based on the menu and visual signage, but didn't try that.
Fried Dumplings on Mulberry St. was named Old Shandong Potstickers in Chinese, but I don't think Shandong would want to claim them. These were the polar opposite of the potstickers at Dumpling House, only slightly golden on the bottom, with a wrapper saturated with cooking oil and a chewy lump as filling. I could only finish two of the five. Nasty! Fried Dumplings allegedly has a sister outlet somewhere, but I didn't look for it.
I also took advantage of the Shanghai-like weather for a mid-afternoon break of a cold beer and a single steamer of xiaolong bao at Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, which I hadn't yet checked off my list for XLB. Yeah Shanghai's version were slightly smaller and more intensely flavorful than Joe's Shanghai's version, but still closer to the Joe's benchmark for "soup dumplings" than to traditional Shanghai style XLB.