At Foodamentals, we have written countless of articles on the beloved soup dumplings. Our activities range from conducting our own food challenge across the San Francisco Bay Area to eating at the revered Din Tai Fung in Taipei. At this point, it is obvious that we will go to great lengths to sample the best soup dumplings anywhere outside of Mordor. On our last trip to Singapore, Foodamentals had a chance to dine at Paradise Dynasty, a restaurant chain owned by the Paradise Group that spans Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Japan. Since the group opened its first restaurant in May 2012, they have rubber stamped themselves onto the culinary map by offering their 8 flavor soup dumplings(xiao long bao). Each dumpling is not only colored, but is also representative of a different flavor such as crab roe, truffles and even foie gras(gasp!).
If I was a betting man(scratchers don’t phase me) I can assume most of our readers have never tried a “foie gras” soup dumpling or one made with crab roe. Although purists will decry how these soup dumplings are inauthentic, I view it as a delicious evolution that I can’t wait to dig into. Today is your lucky day fellow readers, because I will tell you what all these spectacular soup dumplings taste like so you can imagine them in your mind. Better yet, go on Kayak right now and buy a one-way ticket to Singapore so you can try these amaze-balls for yourself.
According to the restaurant, there is a recommended “sequence” for eating these soup dumplings. I don’t quite know if eating it out of order changes your experience, but if I’m forking over the cash, I better believe it will. So with that, the first soup dumpling is…
I guess we need a base line to compare all the subsequent dumplings to. Starting with the “original” flavor, which is the standard pork dumpling, its actually not that bad. I mean, its not Din Tai Fung by any stretch of the imagination, but it was decent to say the least. Although, these dumplings do have a “floral” smell to them that makes me think of romping through a rose garden during allergy season. As the picture below shows, there is a lot of oh-so-delicious pork fat and there is ample broth to wash all that fat down with. It’s juicy, it’s floral-y and its tasty.
Overall, it was a decent effort and a good start to the entire experience. I don’t really think people are coming to Paradise Dynasty for the originals, but like an A/B test(tech humor here), there has to be a control group. This would be it.
Now we gettin’ kind of crazy. Through some convoluted logic, this florescent green color represents ginseng. Which, technically should be a pale yellow/whitish color.
In this particular instance, the ginseng flavor didn’t really come through. In fact, if the skin wasn’t colored green and was replaced by the same skin as the original soup dumpling, I couldn’t tell you this was Ginseng at all. None the less, you can visibly see the amount of broth that this bad boy contains and damn, was that broth good.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t capture a good picture of the foie gras soup dumplings. But, in looking at the 8 dumplings, the foie gras is represented by the brownish colored dumpling that is right next to the green ginseng one. Having said that, I was really really really looking forward to eating the foie gras dumpling. As many of you know, people living in California can’t get foie gras because of the “foie gras law” that was recently passed. While I’m not a foie gras connoisseur, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to try it in dumpling form. And boy! Did it not disappoint!
As expected, you get a mouth full of salty, liver-y, goodness and a generous splash of pork juice for good measure. Although visually, this thing looks crazy weird, you will definitely know you are eating a soup dumpling. Its different, but its still damn good. This foie gras soup dumpling deserves a high five.
Not too much to say here but that I really really liked this combination of pork and truffle mushrooms. Neither ingredient overpowers each other, but instead, compliments each other with the savory flavor of the pork and the “earthy” flavor of the truffles. One thing for sure, Dynasty doesn’t skimp on the ingredients. Again the floral flavor comes and goes.
No direct picture of the cheesy version, but I do have this great production picture that we secretly took of the chefs. If you look back at the picture at the very top, the yellow dumplings are the cheesy ones. Truthfully, this was probably my least favorite one. The cheese is very overbearing, so much so, that the pork is subdued. Texture wise, the cheese reminded me that I’m guzzling a bunch of American cheese-whiz and frankly speaking… that is just friggin’ weird. Might as well throw some ketchup on top and try to convince me that I’m eating french fries.
My absolute favorite variation of soup dumplings! Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect to like the crab roe as much as I did. My only gripe is that you can’t get enough crab roe and I would have loved to get a smidgen more. But, to each their own. Soft, pillowy crab roe paired with pork fat/juice to form this delectable little dumpling. Like with all the other dumplings, the skin has a nice “give” with each bite and you won’t be disappointed with the amount of pork fat/juice that’s included inside.
Unfortunately no pictures of this one. But for reference, it is the grayish colored dumpling that sits right underneath the pink one. Good strong garlic flavor that should be familiar with anyone who frequently eats Chinese food. Just make sure you aren’t planning to make out anytime afterwards.
I was very confused by this Szechuan flavored dumpling since I couldn’t really tell the difference between it and the original flavor. Theoretically, peppercorns and chili adorn this dumpling to give off a spicier flavor that is inspired by traditional Szechuan cuisine. Either the chefs forgot to add in the right ingredients on the day we went, or Dynasty Paradise didn’t decide to turn down for what, it simply wasn’t what I was expecting.