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Dec 11, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Lawrence Chen’

Best New Restaurants: No. 11 – St. Louis Soup Dumplings

Friday, December 1st, 2017

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here are St. Louis’ 12 best new restaurants of 2017.

 

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The name tells you everything you need to know. No salads, no entrees, no bar – St. Louis Soup Dumplings doesn’t try to do much, but what it does, it does exceptionally well. Its xiao long bao, which are also served at sister restaurant Private Kitchen, are some of the best you’ll find in St. Louis.

Warm pockets of fragrant broth surround a variety of pork-, beef-, chicken- and crab-based meatballs, all embraced by thin, delicately folded wrappings. Go for the pork and crab, which features a funky, salty richness perfectly paired with the slurpable, aromatic broth.

The minimalist decor echoes the short but flawless menu, with bamboo light fixtures reminiscent of steam baskets hanging above bare-bones furnishings, and a charming soup dumplings mural warming up one wall. Quick counter service is supplemented by a surprise bowl of chicken broth before your order arrives and (at least when co-owner Emily Yang is working) friendly tableside visits to make sure you know how to properly eat your dumplings.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• First Look: St. Louis Soup Dumplings in University City

• Best New Restaurant 2016: No. 8 – Private Kitchen

• Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

First Look: St. Louis Soup Dumplings in University City

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

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St. Louis is home to dozens of Chinese restaurants, and this week, one more will join the ranks when St. Louis Soup Dumplings opens Friday, Sept. 22, at 8110 Olive Blvd., in University City.

The restaurant is the brainchild of Lawrence Chen and his wife, Emily Yang, who own Private Kitchen, located just two doors down at 8106 Olive Blvd.

As The Scoop reported in March, Chen said the inspiration for the new restaurant came from the popularity of the pork and crab soup dumplings served at Private Kitchen.

Those dumplings will now be available at St. Louis Soup Dumplings, along with fish, chicken, beef and shrimp and mozzarella versions. Chen said other fillings would likely be added in the future, including a veggie option.

A small selection of cold items, including salads, will be available in a refrigerated grab-and-go case near the counter, but Chen’s focus is squarely on the soup dumplings.

The minimalist interior has undergone extensive renovations and retains no hint of its former incarnation as a cell phone store. The space seats approximately 30 and features light wood, neutral colors and light fixtures resembling bamboo lanterns.

St. Louis Soup Dumplings will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Here’s a first look at what to expect from St. Louis’ first soup dumpling shop:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
St. Louis Soup Dumplings to open in University City

Best New Restaurants 2015: Private Kitchen

• Review: Private Kitchen

The Scoop: St. Louis Soup Dumplings to open in University City

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

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{Private Kitchen co-owners chef Lawerence and Emily Chen }

 

Fans of Private Kitchen, the reservations-only Chinese restaurant in University City, will soon have a more casual venue to indulge in one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. As reported by the Riverfront Times, Private Kitchen owner Lawrence Chen will open St. Louis Soup Dumplings at 8110 Olive Blvd.

Chen said he was inspired to open the restaurant because many Private Kitchen customers enjoyed the pork soup dumplings, but didn’t always want to make reservations and text ahead to order. St. Louis Soup Dumplings will be a no-reservations affair with 15 to 20 seats, quick service and carryout.

In addition to pork, Chen said St. Louis Soup Dumplings will offer chicken, shrimp and vegetable versions, along with some non-dumpling dishes. The full menu is still a work in progress.

“I’m still thinking about how many different kinds we can make,” Chen said.

He expects the restaurant, which used to house a cell phone store next to Private Kitchen, to open late spring, depending on renovations.

Photo by Greg Rannells

Related Content
Best New Restaurants 2015: Private Kitchen

Review: Private Kitchen

Best New Restaurant: No. 8 – Private Kitchen

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Opening a restaurant isn’t easy. Each year, hundreds give it a shot – and not everyone succeeds. Some, however, aren’t just surviving; they’re killing it. In the last year, we ate our way through newly opened restaurants from Alton to Ballwin, compiling a list of places that serve the food and drinks we can’t get out of our heads. They bring something different and exciting to the scene – and they do it damn well. While technical excellence was a must, the service and ambiance also had to win us over. Office debates nearly came to fisticuffs, but at last we agreed on St. Louis’ 11 best new restaurants of 2015. Clear your schedule and book your reservations; you’ve got a lot of eating to do.

 

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A meal at Private Kitchen is equal parts adventure and leisure. Not only is a table at this University City restaurant by reservation only, but chef-owner Lawrence Chen also encourages diners to place their orders for authentic Shanghai cuisine in advance. Head to Private Kitchen’s Facebook page and click through photos of the menu and specific dishes (like the live crab with ginger, pictured below), then make your selection and place your order via email or phone. Consider this a quest, your dragon to slay before entering an enchanted dining kingdom. Your efforts will be well rewarded when that dragon is served to you as spicy lobster with ginger sauce. No, seriously, Chen actually carves the lobster to look like a dragon.

Chen’s fanciful plating of flavorful dishes doesn’t stop there. He breaks down a whole crab for your convenience, but then reassembles the body piled atop the legs to stare (perhaps a bit accusatorily) at you, glossy with ginger sauce. Tender, savory xiao long bao (traditional soup dumplings) arrive plump in a bamboo steamer basket, and a generous mound of sweet-savory kung pao chicken arrives strewn attractively across the plate with edible flower garnishes.

This much advanced planning for a night out may seem inconvenient, but by the time Chen’s wife, Emily Chen, shows you to your table, your work is done. Sit back and enjoy the tranquil little space as your food arrives unbidden and exactly as you wanted it.

 

Is Private Kitchen your favorite new restaurant of 2015? Click here to vote for this University City Chinese restaurant in the People’s Choice Facebook contest

-photo by Greg Rannells

 

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