When the question of where to get soup dumplings in NYC comes up, many people first think of Joe’s Shanghai. That’s where I went to try soup dumplings, where I take my friends visiting from out of town to try them, and where many people come in, order them, and leave without trying anything else on the menu. It’s their “thing.” But there’s another place that people should be aware of when it comes to this delicious, dare I say, magical food (how do they get that broth in there?!) and that is Shanghai Café.
I wouldn’t call this place a secret, since it always seems to be packed and busy when I eat there, but it definitely gets unjustly overshadowed by Joe’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love Joe’s soup dumplings, but Shanghai Café’s are just as good, and some would say better. Located right next door to 102 Noodles House (sometimes referred to as Big Wing Wong), this restaurant is mine and my boyfriend’s “spot.” Every time he visits we make a trip (or two) here because the food is delicious, cheap, and served at lightning speed.
The truth is, my first real experience with soup dumplings was at Shanghai Café, but I didn’t know it at the time. What do I mean? Well, I wanted to order some dumplings as an appetizer and I guess I just pointed to something on the menu or they assumed I wanted the soup dumplings since that’s what almost every table had. They got delivered to my table quickly and looked like, well, normal dumplings to my untrained-to-soup-dumplings-eyes. Now, if you’ve never had them before and aren’t really familiar with them, soup dumplings can be somewhat dangerous to eat. By that I mean, I took a big bite into one of them and got hot soup squirted all in my eye and over my face. Whoops.
I should’ve looked at the people around us, or hey, the people sitting directly across from us at our round, community table and seen that they were eating things that looked very similar to what we had on our table in a very specific way (poking or breaking the dumpling open in a soup soon to let the broth and hot steam out first). Don’t worry I figured it out eventually. That is, after I went to Joe’s Shanghai, ordered the soup dumplings intentionally this time, and found out it was EXACTLY what I had eaten at Shanghai Café. You live and you learn.
Like I said, this is mine and my boyfriend’s spot so we’ve tried numerous other things on the menu besides the soup dumplings. So yeah, all these pictures aren’t from one trip. Give me some slack! My boyfriend’s favorite here is the wonton soup, which he says is the best he’s ever had. It comes loaded with dumplings and the broth is clear and flavorful. No watery bland soup here! And it’s only $4.95 for a bowl…a big bowl I might add that can generously feed two people.
I’ve also tried the beef pan fried noodles, a couple of their meat dishes, the scallion pancake, and the fried pork buns. All the portions here are so big, especially for the cost. $6.25 for that giant plate of noodles. $4.95 for that plate of big, plump fried buns. Don’t you just love Chinatown prices?
Every time I’ve eaten here, I’ve left completely stuffed and satisfied. The menu is huge so I’ll have no trouble finding something new to try as I keep coming back here. Just remember that it’s cash only!
Soup dumplings, Shanghai wonton soup, beef pan fried noodles, chicken, fried pork buns