On Tuesday, October 13, the first annual October Dumpling Crawl kicked off at the sunken pool at Sarah D. Roosevelt Park. Time Out NY selected the October Dumpling Crawl as its Last-minute Plan for the night, and the Nonsense list provided a good portion of the 60+ attendees.
There were two main types of dumplings on the agenda for the evening: "jiaozi" and "xiao long bai"
The jiaozi has a 7,000-year history and is typically what Americans refer to when they talk about "dumplings" or “pot-stickers.” It consists of a thin square of dough, on which a small amount of minced meat and vegetables is placed usually including pork, cabbage and scallions, then the dough is crimped shut around the filling, cooked by boiling, steaming or pan-frying, and typically finished with a soy-vinegar sauce or hot sauce.
In contrast, the xiao long bao (XLB) soup dumpling is created by wrapping solid meat gelatin alongside the dumpling's filling so that the heat produced from steaming the dumpling in a shallow bamboo bowl results in melting of the gelatin into a liquid. While jiaozi typically look like crescent-shaped horns or “ears,” the soup dumplings are more bulbous and gathered at the top center point.
After a brief introduction to the history of the dumpling, the crawl divided into smaller groups and spread out across Chinatown to avoid long lines at each of the five locations.
#1: Vanessa's Dumpling House ("Dumpling House)
Location: 118 Eldridge St (btwn Broome St & Grand St)
#2: Prosperity Dumpling
Location: 46 Eldridge St (btwn Hester & Canal)
#3: New (Nice) Green Bo
Location: 66 Bayard St (btwn Mott & Elizabeth)
#4: Tasty Dumplings
Location: 54 Mulberry St (btwn Bayard and Mosco)
#5: Joe's Shanghai
Location: 9 Pell St (at Bowery)
At the end of the crawl, general consensus was mixed and the merits of jiaozi vs. xiao long bai were debated, but the overall favorite turned out to be the most modest location of the bunch: Prosperity Dumpling, a hole-in-the-wall with six stools, a narrow counter, and plump, juicy, perfectly fried pork dumplings.
Stay tuned for the theme of next month's crawl and join us as we feast our way across the city, one crawl at a time!