Every few days our team will scour Shanghai’s dining scene for scrumptious dishes that’ll fill your belly without emptying your savings. Not to discriminate, we’ll search everywhere from bicycle carts to chic venues with twenty-course tasting menus, knowing that any spot could have the next Dish of the Day.
For months, colleagues had badgered us about trying Dongbei Four Seasons Dumpling King, dubbing its fare “the pinnacle of Dongbei food in Shanghai,” and after viewing the joint’s bazillion plugs on the web, we were finally persuaded to stroll in and see what the riot was about.
However, at first, we failed to see to what the riot was about. The staff were about as accommodating as junkyard Rottweilers and the place was overrun with westerners, something that even as proud westerners, we’d always associated with the decline of any respectable Chinese food establishment. Our fears seemed to be confirmed when we sampled their pork bone, a stale, shrunken, almost-mummified version of the vibrantly juicy bone at Hei Tu Di. But then we had the dumplings.
It’s hard to describe what makes a great dumpling, but trust us, Dumpling King’s got it down pat. To start with, their dumplings’ have an immaculate wrapper that’s not so thick it suffocates the filling’s flavor, but that’s still hardy enough to prevent the package from tearing and expelling the juices when pinched by chopsticks.
This is no mean feat when considering their fillings are so densely packed with taste that they threaten to mushroom out of their skins like the Big Bang of dumplings. And yet these pillows of deliciousness remain surprisingly non-filling. Even still, we managed to cram our bellies so full that they were ready to rip like overstuffed jiăozi.
When ordering, mix and match your plate of dumplings from the kaleidoscope of flavors ranging from vegetable to donkey, all of which come by the liang or six dumplings. We’re pushing the pork and cabbage (4RMB) and the bok choy and mushroom (4RMB).
Dongbei Four Seasons Dumpling King – 1791 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Wanping Lu (淮海中路1791号, 近宛平路). Tel: (0)21-6433-0349. Hours: 10:30am-10:30pm daily.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Fish head @ Xiang Quan Xiangcun
See a complete list of our Dish of the Day series here.
Have a recommendation for Dish of the Day? Let Shanghaiist’s food editor Benjamin Cost know at [email protected]!