St. Marks soup dumpling destination The Bao is no longer making its xiao long bao — and the restaurant may never serve them again.
A tipster found over the weekend that the soup dumplings had disappeared from the menu, and an employee confirms that the restaurant, located at 13 St. Marks Place, took them off. Owner Hong Bao decided that the quality of the dumplings were declining and didn’t want to serve them anymore, employee Karen Yu tells Eater.
“The quality was suddenly getting worse and worse,” Yu says the owners explained to staff. “She wasn’t happy with the dumplings. Sometimes the soup would fall through before it got to the table. They’re not soup dumplings without the soup in them.”
The owners are working to bring it back to the previous level of quality and hope to bring them back in a couple months, but it’s not clear whether that will happen. Yu did not know specifics on why the quality had been changing.
The Bao is considered one of the best soup dumpling purveyors in Manhattan. It’s a spin-off of Flushing restaurant Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao with a young, clubby vibe, and it gained popularity after Ligaya Mishan filed a Hungry City column in 2014 calling the restaurant’s soup dumplings “near perfect.” The critic even loved a unique chocolate soup dumpling, where the restaurant put a melty chocolate and banana mixture into a thin dumpling skin.
Yu says that many people who have been coming in have been “pretty upset” since they took the dumplings off at the beginning of the month, and Eater’s tipster notes that the restaurant had no wait prime time on Saturday evening. But the owner seemed firm in her decision, Yu says.
Meanwhile, The Bao still serves other Chinese fare, like dan dan noodles and Sichuan-style chile fried chicken. Eater left a message for Bao and will update as information is available.