No. 26: Xiaolongbao soup dumplings at Shanghai Kitchen
In strip malls and shopping centers from the city's heart to the suburbs, Denver is peppered with Chinese restaurants — but certain dishes are hard to find among the hundreds of plates of kung pao chicken, sweet-and-sour shrimp and beef with broccoli. Other major cities have entire blocks where a person can sample xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings, from multiple vendors in a single day, but in Denver, they're such a rare treat that a sighting is worth a thirty-minute drive for a steaming basket of the jiggly bites.
Until recently, Shanghai Kitchen was tucked into a cramped space at the corner of East Belleview Avenue and South Yosemite Street in Greenwood Village, barely visible from the parking lot, much less the street. But the eatery is expanding into the space next door, which will more than double the seating capacity and give it more visibility. There's a new sign that makes finding the place easy; just make sure you head for the door on the far left, at least until construction is finished and the other doors open to the expansion.
The restaurant's menu covers a range of American Chinese favorites, but there's also a menu in Chinese (with English translations) that features other dishes less familiar to typical takeout customers. Among those are the little steamed dumplings, listed as "mini pork dumplings," that get the name "soup dumplings" from the liquid filling that makes eating them such a pleasure. Shanghai Kitchen's soup dumplings contain a center of dense pork meatball with just enough liquid that they burst in your mouth as soon as the delicate skin is pierced. Eating them means timing the perfect moment, when the broth inside is cool enough to avoid a scalded tongue yet hot enough that the dumpling is still tender. Wait too long, and the dumplings firm up into a dense lump.
Other traditional dishes await those willing to make the crosstown trek from the usual Federal Boulevard haunts, so go hungry and explore the range of whole-fish specials, cold sesame noodles and other fare — some of which are written on the specials board in Chinese characters only.
We're counting down the best dishes in the city in advance of Westword's Dish event on September 20 in Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, where many of our Best of Denver winners — along with other favorites — will congregate to serve up small plates. If there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section, or shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below.
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No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant
No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class
No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch
No. 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa
No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's
No.94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle
No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus
No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar
No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria
No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co.
No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo
No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den
No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City
No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia
No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top
No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall
No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico
No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine
No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana
No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria
No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee
No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's
No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie
No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde
No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones
No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe
No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn
No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium
No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale
No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill
No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada
No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli
No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop
No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151
No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co.
No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen
No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer
No. 61: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's
No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery
No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food
No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale
No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe
No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder
No. 55: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery
No. 54: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision
No. 53: Prawns and Pork Belly at Blackbelly Market
No. 52: Belgian Waffles from Waffle Up
No. 51: Nashville Hot Chicken at Lou's Food Bar
No. 50: Breakfast Burrito from Chickee's Lil Kitchen
No. 49: Monkfish and Romanesco at TAG
No. 48: Cabeza Tacos at Taqueria El Trompito
No. 47: Pupusas Revueltas at Pupuseria San Salvador
No. 46: Sesame Pockets at Golden Plate II
No. 45: Tuna Mousse at Cart-Driver
No. 44: Tavern Tots at the Highland Tavern
No. 43: Carne Asada Fries at North County
No. 42: Pho at Wonderbowl
No. 41: Shredded Bison at Tocabe
No. 40: Nachos al Pastor from Tony Guacamole
No. 39: Prosciutto Pop Tart from Bakin' Bakery
No. 38: Ham and Egg Congee at Onefold
No. 37: Lao Sausage at the Asian Cajun
No. 36: Pan Bagnat at Fuel Cafe
No. 35: Meatloaf Sandwich at City Bakery Cafe
No. 34: Okonomiyaki at Kobe An
No. 33: Farrotto Piccolo at Basta
No. 32: Fried Gizzards at Catfish King
No. 31: My Wife's Doughnuts at Osaka Ramen
No. 30: Foie Gras Bonbons at Milk & Honey Bar Kitchen
No. 29: Gnocchi Maison au Canard Fume at Z Cuisine
No. 28: Mysore Thali at Masalaa
No 27: The Papa Bear at Cub's Q Barbeque
Shanghai Kitchen is expanding and will soon have a spacious new dining room.