They say if you only do one thing, do it well. The dumpling shop on Olive follows that philosophy. The menu at Soup Dumpling is dumplings, dumplings, or dumplings.
But these Shanghai-style delicacies are not boring. They come stuffed with various meats and fish. On the wall behind the walk-up counter, their offerings are printed biggly (as POTUS might say): pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, and pork/crab. My favorites are the pork and beef.
How to Eat ’em
There’s a technique to eating the little dough balls wrapped about a dab of meat and steamed to perfection. First, DO NOT bite directly into a dumpling or you’ll wind up with a steamed tongue. Read the instructions on the wall mural. It shows how to use your ceramic soup spoon and chop sticks to maneuver a dumpling from the bamboo steamer basket to your drooling mouth.
If done properly, you’ll get meat, dumpling and broth all in the same bite. If not, things get sloppy, but no less yummy and fun. Dumplings can be a quick meal, or a snack, that you stop for when you’re driving along Olive. The hand-fashioned delicacies come 6 to a bamboo basket and arrive at your table stacked, one basket atop the other.
If you want an authentic, upscale Chinese meal with a white table cloth setting, it can be had at the owner’s restaurant next door: Private Kitchen. But don’t just walk into PK. The place is very small and meals are personalized. Reservations and ordering must be done on line in advance.
Put both PK and Soup Dumpling on your list.
Soup Dumpling by Private Kitchen. 8110 Olive in University City. Open: Wed-Sun 11a-9p. Chef-owner: Lawrence Chen and wife, Emily.