Joe’s Ginger, NYC

Joe’s Ginger

Chef: Joe Si
Cuisine: Chinese, Hong Kong style Shanghainese
Neighborhood: Chinatown
Price: $35-40 total for the meal ($10 per person)
Phone: 212-285-0333
Address: 25 Pell Street, NYC 10013

The original Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant opened in 1994 in Flushing, New York.  The restaurant quickly gained popularity due to its specialty dish, Xiao Long Bao, which means “Little Dumplings in the Basket” in Mandarin.  At Joe’s, the dumplings either contain a pork or a pork and crab meatball surrounded by a meaty broth.  The soup dumplings are steamed in a bamboo basket, and served over a bed of napa cabbage.   The broth is inserted into the dumpling in solidified, gelatinous form, and once the dumpling is steamed, the broth liquefies into soup!

Xiao Long Bao originated from Nanxiang, a small town near Shanghai.  The dish’s popularity has spread throughout China, and many Cantonese restaurants have adopted Xiao Long Bao as a dim sum item.  Since I was first introduced to Joe’s soup dumplings, I have ordered them at several other dim sum restaurants, yet none have even come close to the taste of Joe’s.

Following the success of the original restaurant in Flushing, chef and owner Joe Si opened up a second restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown at 9 Pell Street in 1996.  A third restaurant was opened in Midtown on West 56th Street in 1999, and in 2004, Joe’s Ginger was opened at 25 Pell Street just a few stores away from Joe’s Shanghai.  There is even a Joe’s now open in Tokyo, Japan.

Due to the popularity of Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown, it always seems there is at least an hour wait for a table.  I have low tolerance for lines when I am hungry and so I admit I have never eaten at the main Joe’s Shanghai at 25 Pell St.; however, I have been to Joe’s Ginger next door several times.  Joe’s Ginger has two levels so there is never a wait to be seated here.  My friend Val who introduced me to the wonderful world of Joe’s insisted the food quality and taste is exactly the same, and so that works out for me!  Additionally, just based on aesthetics, Joe’s Ginger is considerably cleaner and nicer looking than Joe’s Shanghai, which has a more “traditional” Chinese eatery appearance… aka dingy, crowded diner-esque look.

But don’t worry — Joe’s Ginger still maintains that authentic Chinese restaurant feel by having the kitchen staff extend their prep work out to the main dining room.  There were people trimming large piles Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) at one of the tables in the midst of all the dining patrons.  When I commented on it to my dad, he just responded, “They don’t have enough room in the kitchen” as if it was the most commonplace thing in the world.  And it is very common, at least in the world of “real Chinese” dining.  I’m so used to it (the abrupt service and dirty bathrooms) that I rarely comment on it when I review Chinese places because I simply readjust my standards.  And if you do too, I’m sure you will love Joe’s.  Clearly, I’m being slightly sarcastic but trust me, the food is delicious here and at the end of the meal, that’s all that matters.

If you are craving more Shanghainese cuisine and that soup dumpling fix, Shanghai Cafe Deluxe is also a Manhattan favorite!

蚧粉小笼包 Xiao Long Bao: steamed soup dumplings with crab and pork meat
Considered the BEST xiao long bao in Manhattan, these succulent dumplings are absolutely bursting with flavor.  The crab and pork combination is fabulous!

How to properly eat Xiao Long Bao:

Inside a soup dumpling, there is obviously soup… so be careful when eating them or else it can get very messy. You can eat the whole thing in one go, but you may risk burning your mouth because it’s very hot.  This is the “cleanest” way to eat it without spilling soup all over yourself.

1. Place the dumpling on your spoon (seemingly self-explanatory, but do be careful about not dropping or bursting the delicate dumpling; a surprisingly large number of people struggle with this part).

2. Drizzle the sauce (Chinkiang vinegar with ginger slivers) over the dumpling.

3. Take a small bite off the top, and drink some of soup inside before eating the rest of the dumpling.

葱油饼 Scallion Pancake
The thin crispiness of the flatbread has a subtle green onion flavor that results in a very savory combination.  A bit greasy but that’s Chinese food!

鱼香茄子 Eggplant with Garlic Sauce and Pork
I love Asian eggplants (sometimes called Chinese or Japanese eggplants in America); they are thinner and longer than the normal American varieties.  This is a popular Szechuan dish, which means it may pack a lot of heat due to the chili garlic sauce.

上海粗炒面 Shanghai Fried Flat Noodle
Thick, fat noodles make this Shanghai version of chow mein (versus the thin crispy noodles of Hong Kong style)

虾炒年糕 Shrimp Fried Rice Cake
The rice cakes are quite dense and gummy to chew, but I promise they are very appetizing and savory.

鸡煨面 Sweet Red Bean Pancake
Nice sweet dessert to finish the meal!  Red bean paste is very popular in Chinese cuisine; the azuki beans are boiled, mashed, and then sweetened with sugar or honey.  I think it can be a bit too dense/heavy tasting but my mom loves this stuff.

One Response to “Joe’s Ginger, NYC”
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  1. […] And for a way better explanation of the best dishes at Joe’s Ginger and how to eat them, check out this four-year-old post on food com… […]

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