The soup dumpling - something I obviously did not know I couldn't live without, thanks to Lucky Peach and all their slobbering over dumplings recently [I'm only half-mad, Lucky Peach, you taunting, teasing little weasel]. Living in northern Arizona, I don't often come across a good dumpling, much less "xiao long bao". Leave it to the Chinese to turn a soup with dumplings completely on its head.
Delicate, yet gently sturdy purses of dough encase a pork filling, but they don't stop there. The pork filling bounces back and forth from one end of the dumpling to the other in a molten pool of broth. This is soup with dumplings turned inside out.
And honestly, why wouldn't you? I can't think of a single reason, so I made a bee-line to one of my go-to lunch spots whenever I pass through the Dallas area (you'd be surprised how often that is) - Monkey King Noodle Company.
Monkey King is widely known for their house-made hand-pulled noodles and dumplings. I've been there often, waiting patiently online for my turn to order as many items on the menu that I can carry back to the car without help.
The Hot Spicy Beef Noodle Soup is their best-seller, but I stubbornly order the Dan Dan noodles instead. I'm a pork lover so there's that, and I love the garlicky punch in the jaw I get from it, in addition to the heat from the chiles. I just consider it a more well-rounded entree. What's glorious is that it will feed you twice (unless you're greedy or are going through a breakup of some kind). I'm also a big fan of their Wontons in Chile Sauce and have devoured my fair share of Pork Dumplings, but I don't seem to remember seeing the Soup Dumplings on the menu when I passed through last summer.
Perhaps I'm mistaken, but when I checked out their menu, propped up on my 12 pillows at the hotel in Amarillo the night before, planning diligently my culinary stops the next day, I pretty nearly bolted straight up in bed (it didn't last long, all those lovely pillows looked lonely). Soup Dumplings! My heart raced in my chest. My palms began to sweat. I gleefully stroked my chin, laughing maniacally to myself - "Who's laughing now, Lucky Peach?"
This girl - with her 15 pillows (I swear they multiply) and her nose for good vittles - this girl was eating soup dumplings tomorrow!
And I did, fellow foodie. I stood online, I chatted with the locals, I scratched pooches behind their ears while I watched the noodle master stretch and "biang!" his dough on the counter at the front window.
I ordered what I always order: One order of Dan Dan Noodles, one order of Wontons in Chile Sauce ... and I ordered the Soup Dumplings.
And they were delicious.
If you go:
- Weekdays are less crazy than weekends, but be prepared to stand online if you get their past 11:30am.
- There is no inside seating - they have a lovely terrace on the second floor of the building, and a few tables and chairs out back, but that's it.
- I forgot to check when I was there last, but I think it's still BYOB.