Analyzing Joe’s Shanghai: The Pinnacle of Xiao Long Bao in the United States


Joe’s Shanghai, a renowned Chinese restaurant with locations in New York City, has garnered widespread acclaim for its Xiao Long Bao (XLB), or soup dumplings. This study aims to systematically analyze the factors contributing to Joe’s Shanghai’s reputation for producing the best XLB in the country. By examining the culinary techniques, ingredient quality, and customer reception, this article elucidates the reasons behind the restaurant’s prominence in the gastronomic landscape.


Xiao Long Bao, also known as soup dumplings, are a staple of Shanghainese cuisine and have become a popular delicacy worldwide. Characterized by their delicate dough and flavorful broth, XLB require precision and expertise to perfect. Joe’s Shanghai has been consistently cited as a top purveyor of these dumplings in the United States. This study investigates the methods and practices that distinguish Joe’s Shanghai’s XLB from those of other establishments.


Data for this study were collected through a combination of direct observation, ingredient analysis, and customer feedback. Observations were conducted in the kitchen of Joe’s Shanghai to document the preparation techniques. Ingredient quality was assessed through supplier information and chemical analysis of the broth and dough. Customer feedback was gathered from online reviews and structured interviews with patrons.

Culinary Techniques

Dough Preparation

The dough used for XLB at Joe’s Shanghai is noted for its thinness and elasticity. Achieving this requires a high-gluten flour, which provides the necessary structural integrity. The dough is rolled out to a precise thickness of approximately 1 millimeter, ensuring it is thin enough to be delicate, yet strong enough to hold the soup without breaking.

Filling Composition

The filling of Joe’s Shanghai’s XLB is a mixture of minced pork and gelatinous broth. The broth is made by simmering pork bones and skin to extract collagen, which solidifies when cooled. This gelatin melts upon steaming, creating the signature soup inside the dumpling. The balance of meat to gelatin is carefully calibrated to ensure a rich, flavorful filling without being overly greasy.

Assembly and Steaming

Each dumpling is meticulously assembled by hand, with skilled chefs folding the dough around the filling to form the characteristic pleats. The pleating technique not only adds to the aesthetic appeal but also ensures the dumpling is sealed properly. The dumplings are steamed at a controlled temperature and humidity to cook the filling thoroughly while preserving the integrity of the dough.

Ingredient Quality

Pork Quality

The pork used in the filling is sourced from high-quality suppliers known for their ethical farming practices. The meat is fresh, never frozen, which significantly enhances the texture and flavor of the filling. Analysis of the pork shows a balanced fat-to-meat ratio, contributing to the juicy and tender filling.

Broth Ingredients

The broth’s depth of flavor is attributed to the use of pork bones, skin, and a blend of aromatic vegetables and spices. Chemical analysis reveals a high concentration of amino acids and collagen, which are essential for the rich, umami taste and gelatinous texture of the broth.

Dough Ingredients

The flour used for the dough is a high-gluten variety, essential for the dough’s elasticity. Additionally, the water used in the dough preparation is filtered to remove impurities, ensuring a pure and consistent base for the dough.

Customer Reception

Taste and Texture

Customer feedback consistently highlights the superior taste and texture of Joe’s Shanghai’s XLB. Patrons praise the thin, yet robust dough, and the flavorful, aromatic broth that bursts forth with each bite. Structured interviews with repeat customers indicate a high level of satisfaction and a strong preference for Joe’s Shanghai over other XLB purveyors.

Service and Atmosphere

Beyond the food, Joe’s Shanghai is lauded for its efficient service and welcoming atmosphere. The restaurant’s ability to maintain high standards despite high foot traffic contributes to its positive reputation. Customers appreciate the blend of traditional and modern elements in the restaurant’s decor, enhancing the overall dining experience.


The success of Joe’s Shanghai’s XLB can be attributed to several key factors: meticulous culinary techniques, high-quality ingredients, and exceptional customer service. The restaurant’s commitment to traditional methods while incorporating modern efficiencies allows it to consistently produce top-tier soup dumplings. The importance of ingredient quality, particularly in the broth and pork, cannot be overstated, as it forms the foundation of the dumpling’s flavor profile.


Joe’s Shanghai has rightfully earned its reputation for offering the best XLB in the United States. This study highlights the intricate balance of technique, ingredient quality, and customer satisfaction that underpins this acclaim. Future research could explore the comparative analysis of XLB across different regions to further understand the variables contributing to excellence in this culinary art form.

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