Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prosperity Dumpling and 456

I love dumplings. It's something that every Chinese child grows up eating because it's a filling meal that can easily be pre-prepared and frozen for future mid-day snack or dinner emergencies. But there are good dumplings and there are bad dumplings. Here, I will share with you two of my favorite places to get dumplings in New York Chinatown. 

Prosperity dumpling has about a thirty square foot store front and is a hidden gem even in Chinatown. I mean, who ever walks down Eldridge Street? But once you find this place, you will find yourself going back time and time again because their dumplings are simply one of the bests in Chinatown. Their fried dumplings/ pot stickers/ wo teeps are addictive. They're made of the classic pork and leek combination with a thin skin that is perfectly fried on the bottom. 5 for $1? $3, please! You can also buy them frozen by the bag (great investment). They only have a standing bar area that fits about four people, so my brother and I usually take our dumplings to Grand Park. 

Fried dumplings doused in soy sauce and black vinegar  

Prosperity Dumpling
46 Eldridge St # 1  
New York, NY 10002

As I said, I love dumplings. And the most famous dumplings are the steamed soup dumplings (xiao long bao) found in Shanghainese cuisine. Ergo, I love Shanghainese cuisine. The flavors of Shanghainese food can be characterized by the abundant use of dark soy sauce and black vinegar. It can be quite carbohydrate-intensive, for they have, for a lack of a better description, a lot of buns.

Eating xiao long bao is an art, for if you are not careful, you will probably leave your tongue with a third degree burn upon biting into it. The magic of the steamed soup dumpling is that there is a mouthful of steaming hot luscious pork broth inside the delicate dumpling skin. The skin is a very important aspect of the dumpling, for it cannot be too thick. Dumpling masters know how to knead the optimal thickness of the skins to hold the soup, yet not overwhelm the lump of pork in the middle. It's a very delicate balance and hard to pin down. I personally split open the dumpling and sip up the soup, then proceed on dipping it into a black vinegar and ginger sauce. Heaven on earth.

There are plenty of Shanghainese places in Chinatown, but 456 has recently become one of my favorites due their consistent quality of flavors, ingredients, and most importantly, soup dumplings (not the best in the world, but it will do for New York City). Here are some other Shanghainese dishes that I would recommend: 

Cold platter with braised tofu, garlic seaweed, and smoked fish

Steamed juicy pork bun

Dried tofu, prok, and hot pepper stir-fry

Sauteed string beans

Shanghai braised noodle

Scallion pancake (it's Shanghainese, not just Chinese takeout!)

If you're looking for soup dumplings in Boston, there are a few places that do not necessarily specialize in Shanghainese  cuisine, but have some of the aboved photographed dishes and dumplings: Gourmet Dumpling House, Dumpling Cafe

69 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

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