Monday, September 26, 2011

Soup dumplings at Dumpling Cafe

I have a soup dumpling (xiao long bao, 小籠包) addiction. If it's on a menu, I will necessarily order it. Thankfully, looking for the best soup dumplings in Boston isn't difficult... the field is really only limited to two places: Gourmet Dumpling House and Dumpling Cafe. I love both places, but Dumpling Cafe really takes the... dumpling.

It's newer, cleaner, and let's face it, has better food. When my mom visited over Labor Day, I took her there, and she absolutely loved it (more than GDH). And as a Chinese mother, she has major street cred.

We started with bubble tea - I went with your classic milk tea with pearls, and my mom went with taro slush with pearls.

Both were good, but not particularly amazing. We'll leave the bubble tea for our experts at Juice Bar, another Boston Chinatown establishment.

We started with the roast beef wrapped in scallion pancakes.

The pancake was lightly crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside, and served freshly hot. The beef was really well-marinated, and there was just the right amount of plum sauce + scallions inside. We were impressed.

Next was the Chinese zucchini with salty duck egg. I'm a fan of putting
salty duck egg on all vegetables.

This was a really light and refreshing dish, the kind of dish that would come from my grandmother's kitchen. That is always a good thing.

My mom loves squid, so we got an order of squid with leeks.

Again, this was light yet quite flavorful. The squid had a perfect bouncy texture, and the leeks added a nice little crunch to the dish. My grandmother would approve.

And of course, the soup dumplings!

These were sooo much better than GDH's version. The skin was thinner, the soup was tastier and more plentiful, and the ground meat itself was more flavorful. GDH's version has too much meat inside each dumpling. These had the perfect amount.

Also, the dipping sauce is key.

Soy sauce + vinegar + ginger... that's the classic sauce for soup dumplings. Where GDH doesn't provide you with sauce, Dumpling Cafe gives you these, and they don't skimp on the ginger. Just lovely!

After this perfection of a meal, we walked through Chinatown, and I just had to try the famous egg puffs. These are sold all over the streets in Asia, and I ate them all the time as a kid, so I was so excited to try Boston's version.

Egg puffs are made from a sweet pancake/waffle-like batter, and half the fun is that they're bite-sized. When served right off of the iron, these are pretty much unbeatable.

Moral of the story: Boston's Chinatown might be small, but it's definitely got some gems... check 'em out!

Dumpling Cafe
695 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02111

Dumpling Cafe on Urbanspoon

Egg puffs cart
42 Beach St.
Boston, MA 02111


  1. Yum those dumplings look awesome! I wish there was authentic Chinese food like this near me.

  2. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM everything looks awwesome! I especially want the squid, and you are right. Hot egg puffs are hard to beat!

  3. I'm glad to hear you liked the thicker skin! There are two Joe's Shanghais here in NYC–one in Chinatown and one in Midtown–and the one in Chinatown is widely regarded to be the best. But the Midtown dumplings have much thicker skins, and I love them!

    Also, I have to tell you that I had French onion soup dumplings at Stanton Social the other night that blew. my. mind. Make Han take you next time you're in town!

  4. french onion soup dumplings?! ymmm. thanks for the suggestion!!