The best dumplings in the world.

Price: $49 HKD (4 dishes)
Rating: 10/10 

{texture / juiciness2}  + cost ≈ dumpling happiness

If one were to find a formula that described how dumplings related to human aspirations such as happiness, hope, and desire, it would not look like the above. Not just for the fact that I have no idea how to write mathematical equations, but because it'd be far more complex. 

 Take for example a fried pork dumpling, to which there are a few factors of want: softness of the skin so as to not require a great amount of chewing, crunchiness of the fried side to provide textural orgasm, and juciness in the meat to both retain heat in the dumpling , and so as not to make the meat and vegetable mixture inside too dry (but not too juicy so as to make xiaolongbao dumplings redundant).

It's a complex relationship to which formulaic and scientific analysis can be attributed to, but at the end of the day when it comes to food, we all think with our stomachs anyway. Another important factor with dumplings is cost: dumplings should not be expensive, they are very much a cheap eat, something to grab when you just feel like lining your stomach with meaty and carby goodness. Something that can be washed down with litres of cheap beer. Not only that, but atmosphere comes into play when dining on dumplings. The dingier the venue, preferably with hardly any personal space, shared tables and non-english menus makes the whole experience of actually recieving the tangible goods in front of you so much nicer. 

With the above in mind, I believe i've found the very best dumpings IN THE WORLD. 

This small 10 seater open kitchen in Hung Hom defines why I love the food culture in Hong Kong, and why I started blogging. It's cheap, it's easy, it's local and its really bloody delicious. The menu is limited to basically what you see placarded on the walls (with pictures for those of you without cantonese), every single item being dumplings except the excellent spring onion pizza. I shuffle in and find a seat (no wait, a crate) to sit on with a very small amount of table space. No one really takes your order, you kinda just yell what you want in the direction of the kitchen and they'll make a mental note of it (so far they've never forgotten anything). The staff are all very friendly, and don't at all mind my imperfect cantonese. 

First to come at me are the excellent Sheng Jiang Bao ($14HKD), big plump doughy dumplings filled with pork, scallions and soup, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. By far the most carb heavy of the dumpling repertoire, but fantastic with beer. 

The Xiao Long Bao are steamed to order, and are all made fresh each morning ($16HKD). The skin is soft, moist and imperfectly put together. Din Tai Fung devotees, get ready for a shock: these roughly made unpretentious dumplings beat the pants off the ever-reliable xiao long bao from both din tai fung and crystal jade (the king and queen of xiao long bao makers, respectively). The soup inside is well proportioned and salty, purely heavenly. The skin also doesn't droop with the weight of the soup like a Din Tai Fung example might, as the skin is a little thicker and the soup and the meat doesn't separate as much (probably due to less time under steam). These guys are so tasty that I take them without vinegar, soy, or ginger (which isn't offered anyway). 

The fried pork and chive wo tip ($14HKD) are a textural delight, soft skins that tightly hug and contort the filling, and freshly pan fried bottoms with a purposeful crunch that induce a large dopamine release in the brain. 

Lastly, the only non-dumpling item on their menu, a big hearty slice of warm spring onion pancake ($5HKD), which really is more like a pizza. Deliciously crunchy, and laced on the outside with smatterings of sesame seeds the sandy remnants of a generous sprinkle of flour through the baking process give this friendly slice a kind of italian foccacia taste. Except you're eating it with chopsticks, which isn't very italian (or easy).  

All that food for $49 HKD not only makes this one of Hong Kong's tastiest local eateries, but also one of the cheapest. Located in a fairly nondescript street in Hung Hom (map on openrice), it's a bit of a trek unless you live in the area or studying at the nearby Polytechnic Uni. For me, the trek from Kowloon Tong is worth it every single time. These guys in here are worth supporting too, they work hard all day pumping out this excellent food for not much money, in fairly cramped conditions. And here's an insider tip, if you go around 9.30PM when they close, they'll give you all of their unsold dumplings of the day for a crazy price. 

So there you have it, the best dumplings...