Soup Dumplings at the Mei Restaurant in Montreal
The Mei Restaurant in downtown Montreal has an absolutely terrific menu with all sorts of different dumplings on offer. I would love to have tried a wider selection of them but, unfortunately, they are only available in portions of 15 (which is way too many for me eating alone), or, in the case of the ones you see above, in plates of 8. Even that was as much as I could manage at one sitting, but they made a great lunch and were absolutely delicious.
These dumplings appeared on the menu in English simply as ‘Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumplings’, which was somewhat descriptive, but the Chinese characters beneath identified them more particularly as as 湯包, or Tāngbāo, which translates as ‘soup dumplings’ or ‘soup buns’.
Now, the most famous sort of Tangbao are the celebrated Shanghai Xiǎolóngbāo, which are not only filled with meat and vegetables, but contain a goodly quantity of flavored stock (the ‘soup’). This hot liquid can squirt out alarmingly when bitten into by the unwary, and can take some skill to eat without making a mess. The process of forming the sort of dumplings that have liquid as well as a solid stuffing is quite involved, but I have detailed the basic method in my post revealing the Chinese Soup Dumpling Secret.
Anyway, he Soup Dumplings at the Mei Restaurant in Montreal were considerable smaller than most Xiaolongbao, being about three fingers in width. They were still actually a little unwieldy to eat with chopsticks, and far too big to eat in one bite, but I managed fairly well, even with out using a spoon to hold it steady, as is recommended with the larger cousins.
There wasn’t quite as much soup inside these dumplings as the size might suggest but they were wonderfully nice and juicy and the lightly seasoned filling was delicious. Lots of times, steamed dumplings, whose wrappers are thick enough to withstand cooking with soup inside, end up being a bit tough and overly chewy, but here at the Mei Restaurant, the result was tender, without being too hard or too soft. I ate mine with a little chili oil and I have to admit that they were every bit as good as any I have made at home.