Soup dumplings are quietly creeping up in the culinary scene to become the new Cronut. If you haven’t noticed, it’s one of those dishes that gets a mention every time the gang gathers to grab Chinese food. Everyone has their favorite and folks flock from all over to try the latest incarnation.
Well, if you haven’t ventured north of Canal Street for your soup dumpling fix, you might be pleasantly surprised to find some slurpingly good ones on the Upper East Side, at China Fun (2nd Ave. and 64th Street).
This unassuming neighborhood Chinese has much to offer in the way of quality cuisine, and it’s definitely worth the detour, even if it feels about as far away from the crowded awnings of Pell Street as you can get.
First, the bubble teas are carefully crafted and still maintain that tannin taste of tea, which gets lost on some of the sweeter chain varieties.
For an appetizer, the iconic soup dumplings stuffed with pork and topped with crab meat are where it’s at, especially accompanied by the restaurant’s homemade soy and ginger sauce. And if you haven’t eaten a soup dumpling, the technique is simple: Plop on spoon, gingerly bite the top to release the hot steam, pour on the sauce, then slurp away.
The Cantonese-style roast duck is another highlight at China Fun: unctuous, crispy and flavorful, it’s satisfyingly savory.
If you’re still hungry, the Chicken Soong with toasted pine nuts wrapped in lettuce brings a punch of flavors, all wrapped up with the tang of the accompanying plum sauce. Marry this with the green jade vegetables—a montage of string beans, broccoli and snow peas with a umami-triggering sauce—and it’s one perfect takeout order.
But skip the Seamless and eat at the restaurant, where the presentation makes the meal. Heaps of chopped meat and rice in paper containers never seems to have the same effect as a slurped soup dumpling on an enameled spoon, anyway, right?
Twisted Talk: What’s your go-to Chinese spot in New York? Do you have a favorite soup dumpling? Discuss below!