Slurp handcrafted soup dumplings at Windsor's Shanghai Bistro
Jonathan Pinto discovers a Wyandotte Street restaurant making handmade xiao long bao, a.k.a. soup dumplings
Xiao long bao — or soup dumplings — are not your average Chinese dumpling.
Originating in Shanghai, what makes these coveted morsels hard to find is the fact that in addition to the meat and spices, the liquid broth itself is contained within the walls of the impossibly-thin flour wrapper.
And one of the few places you can find it on either side of the Detroit River is a new establishment on Wyandotte Street called the Shanghai Bistro.
How does the soup get inside the dumpling?
Shanghai Bistro's xiao long bao uses minced pork and chicken broth. Crab is optional. Essentially, the broth is cooled down until it becomes gelatin-like, and then chunks of it are mixed in with the meat.
When the dumpling is steamed, the broth reverts to its original liquid state.
Co-owner Jing Lan handcrafts each and every single dumpling, soup-filled or not. On a busy day, the restaurant can receive upward of 250 orders for xiao long bao — that's 1,500 dumplings!
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Lan has a dedicated dumpling making station in the front of the house, so customers can see the process for themselves. The station is beside a window, so even pedestrians outside can take in the show.
Look around the small restaurant on any given day, and chances are most, if not every, table will at least have one basket of xiao long bao on it.
How do you eat a soup dumpling?
Now that you understand how the soup dumplings are made, the next question is: how do you eat it? The broth inside the delicate pouches is extremely hot, so popping it inside your mouth immediately is out of the question.
In the past, I used to place the dumpling on a Chinese soup spoon, bite the top off, slurp out the soup and eat the rest. While I wasn't totally incorrect, Chester Huang, Shanghai Bistro's other owner, gave me a lesson on his preferred method.
Shanghai Bistro is located at 2045 Wyandotte St. W. in Windsor. They're open every day (except Tuesday) from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and accept cash and debit only — no credit cards.
CBC Windsor reporter Jonathan Pinto travels across southwestern Ontario as Afternoon Drive's "food dude." Know of a place you think he should check out? Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jonathan_pinto.