100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes, No. 82: Soup Dumplings at Royal China

Leading up to September's Best of Dallas® 2016 issue, we're sharing (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes, the Dallas entrées, appetizers and desserts that really stuck with us this year.

There are certain foods that might, at first, seem like magic. How are they made? Think about the first time you tried a chocolate with alcohol in the center, or a first encounter with molecular gastronomy. One of the most how-do-they-do-it foods of all, though, is China's soup dumpling.

A specialty of the area around Shanghai, soup dumplings (xiao long bao) are, quite literally, meaty dumplings filled up with soup broth. How do they do it? Xiao long bao is made using a filling that combines meat, usually pork, with a gelatin that melts when steamed. In Dallas, nobody does soup dumplings better than Royal China, where a team of expert dumpling-makers stands along the bar, stretching dough, folding in the meat and loading up bamboo steamers.

Experienced soup dumpling eaters need no further introduction to this physics-defying treat. First-timers should remember to balance the dumpling in a spoon, the better to catch any broth spilling out, and to bite carefully, since the contents are very hot. They're also delicious, so don't miss a single slurp.
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Brian Reinhart has been the Dallas Observer's food critic since spring 2016. In addition, he writes baseball analysis for the Hardball Times and covers classical music for the Observer and MusicWeb International.
Contact: Brian Reinhart