My craving for xiao long bao unfortunately coincided with the four-day closing ofLao Wang Noodle House,which is remodeling. We gave Lao Wang Best Xiao Long Bao in the Best of Denver 2011, and with good reason: The Wangs make excellent soup dumplings, packing pork and gelatin cubes into doughy wrappers and then steaming them so that the gelatin melts into scrumptious pork and chicken broth.
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And you know what I found? Star Kitchen makes xiao long bao. You just have to interrupt one of those cart-pushers who's always trying to plop down baskets of pork buns and shu mai on your table, and ask for the Shanghai dumplings.
The xiao long bao at Star Kitchen aren't quite as good as those at Lao Wang -- partially because they don't come with the traditional black vinegar or a spoon. And a spoon is important: Eating a steaming hot morsel out of something resembling a tiny metal pie tin is challenging -- both because the shape is awkward and because the material conducts heat, making it difficult to slurp soup from a gash in the dumpling wrapper without scorching your lips. But the flavor is spot-on -- pungent and onion-y, with a smack of salt best counterbalanced by a swig of sweet Coca-Cola.
Once Lao Wang reopens tomorrow, I'll probably return there for xioa long bao and reserve Star Kitchen for dim sum. But in case you're looking for soup dumplings today -- or if you're craving them on a Monday, when Lao Wang is always closed -- Star Kitchen is a good bet.