The best so far. Maybe just the best.
I set out specifically to find this highly regarded but decidedly no frills dumpling house twice. I went early to avoid what I'm told can be long lines or the disappointment of hearing your favorite filling has already run out. Now to be fair the "dining room" is so small 25 people would seem like an unruly mob but these are in fact dumplings well worth waiting for.
I strolled in the door feeling conspicuously Western and was relieved that the woman at the front counter had an English version of the menu board behind her head. I placed my order by pointing to a few dishes, paid and was given a numbered ticket.
Not quite the secret lair of an ancient Shanghainese grandmother and her carefully guarded family recipe food geeks dream of finding, these teenagers wait to roll and fill each steamer tray of dumplings to order. I try to hide my excitement as I slip in to find a place at one of the crowded tables. A couple other customers stare (in a friendly kind of way) in my direction.
I started with a seaweed and egg soup, not expecting much. The broth is completely clear -- like water, but the flavor is so complex so full of the sea that I feel healthier just spooning in. A good dose of iron to gather strength for the dish ahead.Dumplings. Shanghai soup dumpings. I ordered shrimp with egg and pork with crab. This is the kind of dough dumpling seekers dream about. I pick each delicate morsel up by the knot, dip it in the light soy and ginger on the table and roll each one in chili paste. They are nearly transparent and super tender with just enough body to hold the steaming soup and gently resist my teeth as I bite in to slurp the soup from inside.I barely notice the other customers. My head is spinning with hot soup and dough.