Wonton soup came to the United States in the 19th century with Chinese immigrants — and quickly became one of the staples of Chinese American cuisine. Usually it’s pork dumplings that bob in a pork, beef, or poultry broth; sometimes, slender strips of roast pork and egg noodles shimmy about as well. It’s one of America’s most fortifying soups.
These days, wonton soup has morphed into dozens of permutations: Sometimes the dumplings feature contents beyond pork and vegetables; sometimes the broth is richer and laced with soy sauce or a dash of wine vinegar; sometimes the soup is more herbal and filled with vegetables and alliums; and sometimes the soup even arrives deconstructed so that the dumplings do not disintegrate — or maybe because deconstruction is a modern culinary twist.
Here is a collection of wonton soups that show the range of the dish in New York City.
Wu’s Wonton King
This celebrated Cantonese restaurant on the Lower East Side takes its wontons seriously — in fact, the wonton soup may be its signature dish. The soup is presented communally in one big bowl fit to be shared by eight or more. It comes studded with two types of wontons: one stuffed with shrimp, the other with pork and greens. 165 East Broadway, at Essex Street, Lower East Side
Founded in 1976, Mee Sum is one of the few old Chinese coffee shops still standing in Chinatown. It’s a narrow den where old men sit and drink tea and enjoy a few plates of dim sum. The wonton soup is traditional and particularly fortifying, with a stout salty broth, shrimp-stuffed dumplings, green vegetables, and packaged ramen noodles — utterly delightful. 26 Pell Street, near Bowery, Chinatown
Aaron’s Chinese & Thai
This neighborhood Chinese behind Penn Station has modernized by adding Thai food to its menu, but the wonton soup is classic Chinese American: thick-skinned dumplings loaded with pork in a dark broth made from duck and pork. Fried noodles are served on the side for dumping in the soup, along with plastic sleeves of duck sauce and soy sauce. 339 Ninth Avenue, near 29th Street, Garment District
Rong Wang is one of a host of new Cantonese restaurants in Flushing and Manhattan’s Chinatown that offer a slightly innovative approach to Chinese American food. The wontons here are filled with a combination of shrimp and pork, and the skins are exceedingly delicate. It’s one reason the dish is deconstructed for takeout — although it may be eaten that way, too. 136-51 Roosevelt Avenue, between Main and Union streets, Flushing
At this newfangled dim sum spot in Greenwich Village, wonton soup involves all sorts of add-ins, presumably making it more appealing and providing additional nourishment. A bowl comes filled out with bok choy, strips of egg, and crunchy fried wontons in a dark aromatic broth. 470 6th Avenue, between 11th and 12th streets, Greenwich Village
Goody Fresh Dim Sum
Across the street from Steam, another dim sum parlor with the encouraging name of Goody Fresh Dim Sum has opened with a decidedly premium version of the soup, with each dumpling jam-packed with shrimp and what tastes like a shred of ginger. The effect is sublime, the dumpling skins gloriously orange. 513 6th Avenue, between 13th and 14th streets, Greenwich Village
Taiwan Pork Chop House
One of the best restaurants in Chinatown, Taiwan Pork Chop House is famous for its dishes over rice, such as pork chop over rice, chicken drumstick over rice, and pork and pickled cabbage over rice. It also serves a memorable version of wonton soup that features crinkled strips of nori and torn iceberg lettuce, both of which contribute to the soup’s texture and flavor. 3 Doyers Street, near Bowery, Chinatown
So Do Fun
The Cantonese dishes on the menu at this restaurant headquartered in China and mainly specializing in Sichuan cuisine feature a simple and austere wonton soup. You will find it particularly refreshing with its wad of cilantro, but more fit as an app than as a focus of your meal. 155 3rd Avenue, between 15th and 16th streets, Gramercy Park
Kung Fu Kitchen
This dim sum and hand-pulled noodle specialist in Hell’s Kitchen makes some great classic wontons, thin-skinned, shaped like goldfish, and stuffed with shrimp and pork. The broth is rich and a slick of chile oil spreads across the top — call it spicy wonton soup. 811 8th Avenue, near 49th Street, Times Square
When Bonnie’s opened in Williamsburg in 2021, there was a wonton soup on the menu wonderfully transformed in an Italian direction. Called wun tun en brodo, its dumplings are shaped like tortellini stuffed with a familiar shrimp-and-pork combo. The broth echoed Italian, too, making for a magnificent intercontinental mash-up. 398 Manhattan Avenue, at Frost Street, Williamsburg
Diverse Dim Sum
Stall #12 at the New York Food Court has one of the city’s more unusual wonton soups, as you can tell by the name, called shepherd’s purse wonton. Instead of Cantonese-style thin wontons, it substitutes thick-skinned dumplings from the Jiangsu Province north of Shanghai. What’s more, these dumplings are deliciously stuffed with lamb instead of pork or shrimp. 133-35 Roosevelt Avenue, west of Prince Street, Flushing