Joe’s Shanghai

Pork Soup Dumplings
In Nanxiang, China over a century ago, legend says the soup dumpling made its humble entrance into the world. Next to a famous garden on the outskirts of Shanghai, a man started selling these precious soup-filled pouches in his shop.  Called a “xiao long bao” (which literally translates to little steamer buns), this unique soup dumpling caught on and soon found its way to downtown Shanghai.  In the past several decades, it has spread around the world.

This fervor reached Taiwan, which still houses my favorite soup dumpling place in the world. It also made its way to America (lucky for us!).  And thankfully, finally, it came to the East coast.  In the mid-nineties, the xiao long bao craze took off in New York, culminating in the opening of Joe’s Shanghai in 1995.

This place quickly had a cult following, and it’s easy to see why.  Their soup dumplings are very authentic, filled with hot, satisfying soup housed in delicate, thin, yet chewy skins.

Bryan and I had a chance to visit this iconic establishment during our last trip to New York for a quick, Saturday lunch.

Joe Shanghai
The original Joe’s Shanghai is in Flushing (which, by the way, is an aboslute mecca for Taiwanese dining if you ever get a chance to go there!), but several more have opened up in places like Chinatown and Midtown.  It’s been said that the one in Chinatown is better than the one in Midtown.  Though we would have loved to trek down to Chinatown, we were staying in Midtown and didn’t have much time, so we walked the few convenient blocks to 56th street to try this outpost.
Crab Soup Dumplings
Crab and Pork Xiao Long Bao – $6.65
This is their most famous dish, and definitely the one that made them famous – a must-get if you come here. The dumplings are juicy and flavorful, and the skin is good.  I still much prefer the xiao long baos at Din Tai Fung, but these are probably among the best dumplings you’ll get in the East Coast.  It definitely beats the soup dumplings in Boston.
Pan Fried Dumplings
Pork pan-fried dumplings. $4.65
These were solid, with a chewy skin and a flavorful filling.  Not being a huge meat person, I couldn’t help but wish there were more vegetables inside, sort of like my favorite dumplings at Din Tai Fung.  Of course, that is a matter of personal preference.  I also wished the skin was a bit thinner – again, a matter of personal preference.
Pan Fried Dumplings
Here’s a closer view . . .
Noodles
We asked the waiter if he had any suggestions for a noodle dish, and he suggested this pan-fried seafood noodle.  I’d say pass on this and stick with the dumplings.  It was alright, but probably similar to what I can get an a normal Chinese restaurant.  I will say that the noodles were reasonably chewy, which is always nice.

Overall, the food was good, and this is definitely a solid and safe choice for excellent soup dumplings.  After having tried (what I think is) the best dumpling in the world, it’s hard not to be just a bit disappointed every time I try a soup dumpling elsewhere.  I’m curious whether the one in Chinatown or Flushing is significantly better than this Midtown one.  Anyone have thoughts on this?  Please comment!

In any event, you should definitely come and try some soup dumplings, especially if you have never tried one before.  Just be careful – the soup can be hot!  Oh, and it’s totally OK to slurp.  ;)

Other posts in this Big Apple Series
Per Se
Morimoto
Waldorf Astoria
Smorgas Chef

Related Dumpling Posts
Din Tai Fung (California)
Din Tai Fung (Taiwan)
Gourmet Dumpling House
Qingdao Garden
East by Northeast
Unique Dumpling

Joe’s Shanghai
Midtown
24 W 56th St
New York, NY 10019
Joe's Shanghai on Urbanspoon

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Comments

  1. says

    I love soup dumplings there, but like you said, the ones in Taiwan blow them out of the water!

    You’re right – the midtown one is actually my least favorite out of the three. I would say that Flushing and Chinatown are comparable but if I had to pick one, Flushing wins. :)

    Btw, the restaurant is called Joe’s Shanghai. Hope you can go to the one in Flushing next time!

  2. says

    I used to try to go to the one in Chinatown every time I went when I lived in NJ. Surprisingly, I think I preferred the xlb at this place called Shanghai Park in Central NJ.

    I agree with you about preferring thin skinned dumplings and a nice ratio of veggies to meat in a dumpling, though. =)

  3. says

    I’ve only gone to the Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown, but have heard it’s better than the one in midtown (though I’d guess that Flushing’s would be best). The Chinatown one is way more crowded than midtown – we were there at 11AM on a Sat and sat with strangers…but that made it feel like a more authentic experience!

  4. says

    next time try New Green Bo (now it seems to be called Nice Green Bo) on Bayard Street. I’d take that over Joe’s any day, especially the soup dumplings.

  5. says

    ;) fun fun, i love soup dumplings. actually i wasn’t that impressed with the joe’s shanghai in flushing. maybe it was an off night, but it was super greasy. there is another place in flushing that is better (on prince st) but i don’t know the name. and i agree with joy that Shanghai Park in Edison, NJ is fantastic!

  6. says

    Yayyy!! I was right! Joe’s Shanghai…oh their soup dumplings were AMAZINg. But my stupid friend told me the crab ones sucked, when now I realize that they are the good ones. Grrr…well, another excuse to visit again!

  7. says

    No, no, Joe’s Shanghai is tourist crap! The Chinatown one is a little better but Shanghai Cafe in Chinatown is your best bet in Manhattan. (If you have time to go to Flushing, obviously that’s better, but it’s a long train ride.) I’ve been to Din Tai Fung in California and I feel bad for you that you went to Joe’s. Chinese food in midtown, other than Wu Liang Ye’s locations, tends to be just like all the other cuisines – not cheap, pretty good, but not the best.

    If you’re interested, my review of Shanghai Cafe: http://www.dominiqueeatsout.com/shanghai-cafe/
    Hope you had fun in New York!

  8. says

    I always went (between 1996 and 2003) to the location in Flushing. But one time I had to use the restroom, and it was so so very filthy. Hopefully it was an off night, although I’m pretty cynical, having seen too many restaurants with bathrooms like that. It didn’t help my appetite to think that that is where the cooks were doing their business and washing (I hope) their hands.
    But that’s the best place for xlb that I had found in NY.

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