Soup Dumplings in New York City’s Chinatown – Life-Changing

Ever since I moved to the city I’ve been hearing non-stop about how incredible soup dumplings are. Eager to get my hands on some, I was beyond thrilled to be invited to a friend’s birthday dinner at Shanghai’s Café Deluxe in Chinatown on Mott Street.

Upon entering the restaurant, I felt like I was immediately thrown into another world, with everyone speaking a different language, piping hot stacks of steam crates being whisked around, and pink neon lights over the entire ceiling. It may have been another world, but there was nowhere else I wanted to be. With this glorious combination of smells, sounds, and sights, I knew it was going to a great meal.

We made our way to our table and had our decision within seconds. The soup dumplings were an obvious choice to all. We then chose some classics; chicken fried rice, eggplant in garlic sauce, green beans, and chicken lo-mein. It was Friday night and this place was jam-packed. Filled to the brim with a mix of soup-dumpling pros, who have mastered the nibble-slurp-chew-repeat process (more on that later), as well as folks like me, aka amateurs in the soup dumpling game.

Within minutes our order of soup dumplings arrived. I lifted the lid, let the steam subside, and there they were, in all their beautiful glory. But I realized I had no idea how to eat these! Luckily, I had an expert at the table who walked me through the whole process start to finish. For those amateurs out there without a master nearby, I’ve done my research and created a list of steps. (Feel free to print this out and bring with you to your next soup dumpling outing, I swear that’s less embarrassing than ending up with hot soup stains all over your face!)

Soup Dumplings

(List adapted from New York CBS Local)

  1. Carefully use your chopsticks to lift a dumpling from the steamer basket into your soup spoon (for ease of transfer, hold your spoon directly next to the soup dumpling as you lift).
  2. You can use your chopstick to poke a hole in the top of the dumpling, but why not dig right in and bite off a bit to let some steam out. If you like, this is the time to spoon a little of the black vinegar/ginger sauce that was brought to your table with the dumplings.
  3. Be patient and let the soup dumpling cool for a minute or so. If you’re impatient, you will burn yourself and it will HURT. If you want to blow gently on the dumpling, feel free.
  4. Carefully lift the spoon to your mouth, stuff the whole thing in your mouth and slurp the entire dumpling into your mouth and chew carefully; try not to let any soup escape your mouth!
  5. Repeat until all the dumplings are gone.
  6. Order another round of soup dumplings. (Optional, but highly recommended)

Though this was my first experience with soup dumplings, it will certainly not be my last. Shanghai Café Deluxe definitely deserves a spot on your bucket list!



New Call-to-action

About The Author

Resident Tourist

Born here. Lives here and never leaving. The nicest person to ever not speak in public. Loves New York