Soup Dumplings

A smiling young woman and man lean across the table.
These are my favorite dumplings. Photo by author.

When in New York City’s Chinatown, (found on the Lower East Side, south of Little Italy) bring your appetite and a sense of adventure.

My children were in search of soup dumplings, having recently tried the homemade version at a friend’s house. We wandered around, reading menus, searching for the best option among far too many!

We settled at Joe’s Ginger House on Pell St. A sign suggested they were voted “Best Soup Dumplings” so we stepped into a very basic setting, noticing a high percentage of Asian diners.

Soup dumplings are basically a little package of soup, which requires delicate handling to successfully bring to one’s desperate mouth. It is a perfectly delightful bite delivered in a delicate noodle of a pouch. The Chinese name for this delicacy is Xiaolongbao.

My daughter instructed us to bite the top off and suck out the soup. Yum.

One soup dumpling on a spoon.
This dumpling landed unscathed onto my spoon. Alleluia!

The dough covering is easily punctured by the metal tongs, I discovered. This results in soup running off the spoon and away from whoever is handling and hoping to pop the package into their waiting lips.

A metal tong sits in the bamboo steamer next to 5 dumplings.
The metal tongs, although tiny, can bite a bit too hard, if one is not careful. I discovered this on my own.

How does the soup get into the dumpling?? I was curious. A syringe? No, actually, it’s placed in the dumpling as a gelatin. That is the part of bone marrow, most commonly used in Jell-O, but naturally occurring. Once the dumpling is steamed it liquifies into a perfect little mouthful of soup.

To see them being made, check out this video:

In order to claim Joe’s Ginger were the best, I would need to sample dumplings around the entire Chinatown…it may take a while, but I am so willing.

Joe’s Ginger’s dumplings were dynamite and of course, we tried a few other dumplings, plus the pork buns, while we were there.

Four pork buns rest on a white plate.
Pork buns from Joe’s Ginger.

Two sets of dumplings sit in metal containers on the table.
Dumplings, dumplings and more dumplings. Delicious! Photo by author.

We got seconds on the soup dumplings and just a word of caution, Joe’s only accepts cash.

The author and her daughter stand on the sidewalk in Chinatown, NYC
The author and her daughter tackle Chinatown for lunch.

What’s your favorite dumpling? Share in the comments!

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By Catstrav

Reindeer handler. NDT tech. Mother of four. Aspiring astronaut.


  1. I’ve never heard of soup dumplings. I must admit I’m not an aficionado. My girls and husband love dumplings. Mike found a dumpling spot in NYC that Bethany and her husband liked, and Melanie has had a dumpling spot in VA and AZ. Now she’s moving to TX, so I guess it’s time to find a new spot!

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