Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Flushing, Queens NYC
Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao, or Nan Shiang Xiao Long Bao as it is sometimes spelled, is renown for its Xiao Long Bao or Little Dragon Buns aka the notorious soup dumplings. As I write this to you this day, my mouth is already salivating from the thought of the steaming soup filled dumplings, bundles of tasty rapture.
My first encounter with soup dumplings was at Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown in Manhattan NYC and it was there that my obsession for these steamed juicy buns of pork or pork and crab began. Just looking at the pictures of my last trip to Joe’s Shanghai would trigger a almost Pavlovian response to salivate and imagine tasting the soup dumplings again. Soup inside your dumpling, not dumplings inside your soup. Whoa.
It was around 11 am and my brothers and I were hungry. There was about a 15 minute wait to get into Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao located diagonally across from the Flushing Sheraton on Prince Street. We were lucky to get in under a relatively short amount of time because when I looked outside, there was an even longer line forming to get into the tiny restaurant store which held probably no more than 30 diners at a time.
When we got to our table we immediately began our order for 2 crab and pork soup dumplings and 1 pork soup dumplings. I could see from my seat the Chinese ladies by the steamers making the buns and cooking them to a near perfect freshness.
I ordered a tofu pudding dish (tofu fa) drizzled with honey syrup, a great start for breakfast. The tofu was light and sweet as I slurped it up with my spoon.
We also ordered a round of sweet soy milk, regular pork dumplings, and these scallion pancakes rolled with beef. They were all great but the stars of the show were the soup dumplings.
The soup dumplings were the first to arrive, still steaming in their steam bamboo dishes on a bed of cabbage. We pick the dumplings up, taking care not to burst the skin. Novices / N00bs at eating soup dumplings would put them in their mouth right away to bite them; only to wince in pain as they release the hot steaming soup inside and burn their tongues.
The way that I eat them is by placing them onto my soup spoon first, puncturing the skin with my chopstick, releasing the soup onto the spoon, and allowing you to blow on the dumpling to cool before devouring the dumpling morsels. I don’t know who invented these things but they are one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. Thank you soup dumpling maker, where ever you are.
The atmosphere of Nan Xiang is strictly no frills, almost Chinese-speaking only. We actually had some troubles with our first waitress because she couldn’t understand our order a few times, which was a bit exasperating. Luckily there were other waitresses who could help us out. Whew.
Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao
38-12 Prince Street, Flushing NY 11354 (map)
Tofu pudding, sweet and tender loving