Some say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But to Danny Bowien, the mastermind and chef behind the hip bicoastal restaurant Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco and New York City’s Chinatown, every dish is open to a new interpretation and a new adventure.
“We don’t try to do things better. Just different,” says the Oklahoma-raised chef about his restaurants’ award-winning cuisine. Danny wanted to take one of his favorite dishes, the classic Shanghai Xiao Long Bao soup dumpling and turn it on its head. “It’s a crazy sensory experience when you bite into one. The heat, the stickiness and slight sweetness of the dough, the vinegar, the pork but with that slight taste of seafood. We wanted to maintain those perfect flavors, but give it a twist.”
The twist? Do things as they do so often in New York City – upside down and backward. To celebrate the opening of W Shanghai – The Bund, Bowien created a soup dumpling that brings the flavorful punch we love, but without the soup and without the heat. “I love soup dumplings. From the moment you bite in, there are so many flavors and aromas. You have to be patient and you can’t rail into them the way you might want to. This version you can eat a lot of since they’re not scalding hot, and it’s pretty healthy. But the flavors are still there. The lime juice, the sweet crab, fish sauce, the water in the gem lettuce. When you close your eyes it tastes like you’re eating a Xiao Long Bao, but backward.”
With Danny’s version, you can indulge, and indulge a lot. More of a lettuce wrap than a dumpling, this dish holds all of the classic flavors but feels lighter, is refreshingly crisp, and highlights Dungeness crab as a nod to Danny’s San Francisco roots (that’s where he first tried the delicacy while in culinary school).
Go inside the mind of the chef as he constructs his deconstructed play on the Shanghai soup dumpling, one mouthwatering step at a time.
Danny’s Xiao Long Bao Inspired Lettuce Wrap
Dungeness crab legs
Smoked fish roe
Ginger Miso Sesame leaf