And then, there are die-hards like yours truly who will order everything on the menu from chicken feet to radish cake, to taro puffs and pan-fried dumplings, to the increasingly rare ham soy kok and what we have here: siao [xiao] long bao.
Siao long bao are originally from Shanghai, specifically from the suburban area of Nanxiang. According to Wikipedia:
Xiaolongbao are traditionally filled with pork, but variations include other meats, seafood and vegetarian fillings, as well as other possibilities. The characteristic soup inside is created by wrapping solid meat gelatin inside the skin alongside the meat filling. Heat from steaming then melts the gelatin into soup. In modern times, refrigeration has made the process of making Xiaolongbao during hot weather easier, as one can use chilled gelatin which might otherwise be liquid at room temperature.
The proper way to eat one of these dumplings is to pick one out of the basket, deposit it onto your soup spoon, puncture it to let the broth out, and just, well, eat.
I have to admit they aren’t exactly the best: there’s a lot of filling, but it’s more of a mush rather than a separate meatball-and-broth tandem the way really good xiao long bao ought to be. Still, they taste pretty darned good, particularly when dipped in the dish of black vinegar that comes alongside the steamer basket.