But we found ourselves branching out beyond dumplings. Along the way, we encountered many foods, strange and wonderful.
What is a soup dumpling?
A soup dumpling is a triumph of architecture. The dumpling is not in soup. Rather, the soup is in the dumpling.
You have to have a strategy to eat soup dumplings. If you cut it or bite into the side first, you lose the soup. My daughter tried it and had a dumpling-full of soup pour down her shirt. Many soup dumplings are too large, and too hot, to eat whole.
My strategy was to bite a small hole and slurp out the soup. Then I ate the dumpling like a normal dumpling.
My criteria for judging most dumplings is:
(1) texture of the skin,
(2) flavor of the filling, and
(3) flavor of the sauce on the side.
But for soup dumplings, the criteria is a little different:
(1) texture and architecture of the skin (including how well it holds soup),
(2) flavor of the filling, and
(3) quality of the broth.
Soup Dumplings at Fu Fu Cafe, Classic Kitchen, Lai Lai Dumpling House
The best skins -- and the best all-around soup dumplings -- were at Fu Fu Cafe in the Dun Huang Shopping Center.
We had very few broken dumplings at Fu Fu. The skin was sufficiently thick and doughy to hold in the soup. The texture was slightly chewy, but not at all rubbery.
The best meat fillings were in the soup dumplings at Classic Kitchen in Sterling Plaza. The meat had strong flavors of ginger and green onions. But at Classic Kitchen we had the heartbreak of quite a few broken dumplings. The skin just was not up to the task of holding in the soup.
The soup dumplings at Lai Lai Dumpling House in Diho Plaza had skin problems.
First, the skins were rubbery, tasting as though they had been frozen.
Second, the dumplings were packed two closely together. Many stuck together, causing us to lose the soup when we pulled apart the dumplings.
But I tried one dumpling that retained its soup. Of all the soup dumplings we tried, Lai Lai's dumplings had the best broth. It was rich and viscous and full of flavor. The filling was good too.
If Lai Lai's insides could marry Fu Fu's skin, the product would be the perfect soup dumpling.
Fu Fu's Pan-Fried Dumplings
I had one other major discovery at Fu Fu Cafe. The pan-fried dumplings had a fascinating, smoky flavor. Jenny speculated that the smoke came from the oil in the hot wok. The smoke migrated inside the dumplings through two large holes left in each side and flavors both the meat and skin.
The skins of these pan fried dumplings are not as glorious as the pan-fried dumplings across the street at Sandong Noodles. But their unique smoky flavor makes them worth trying.
Chinese Donut Breakfast Taco
Jay Francis spotted something odd on one of the tables at Classic Kitchen.
This strange dish was a weird mixture of Mexican, Chinese, and French food. On the outside was an ordinary flour tortilla. Inside was a long strip of fried dough, much like an unsweetened French crueller donut. Also inside the tortilla were scrambled eggs, cilantro, and a sauce of sweetened vinegar.
I never caught the name of this dish. Apparently, it is popular for breakfast. Which seems like the best time to eat a Chinese donut breakfast taco.
Fusion food indeed.
Next - Part 2: The Crawl continues at Sichuan Cuisine, Jungle Cafe
Update: Tinyhands found this link for how to make soup dumplings. Now we know how to get the soup inside the dumpling.