Circling back on Joe’s Shanghai. I was in the neighborhood last week and stopped by for a fix after ages.
The dumplings were better than my last visit a couple of years ago. I always get crab+pork.
The room is filled with mostly tourists now - that did not used to be the case either on weekends or on weekdays.
The dumplings were as I remembered - very flavorful, soupy filling. Large - it’s not comfortable to put a whole dumpling in your mouth, but since I never do that anyway, it doesn’t matter. They were more carelessly placed in the steamer than previous visits - several were stuck to each other (so i first separated them while they were still hot, so they didn’t rip and waste the juice later).
One order of XLB was plenty for me for lunch. In the past, I’ve always wanted a couple more, but 2 orders is too many.
Comparing to my other favorites:
Kung Fu - thinner wrapper than Joe’s, slightly smaller dumplings, flavorful filling but Joe’s is tastier and crabbier.
Pinch - thinner wrapper, much smaller dumpling - just a single bite, filling is much less flavorful than Joe’s (and KF) - and there’s no crab version. These are DTF-style dumplings (and having eaten at DTF, Joe’s and KF are a different level flavor-wise, though DTF are prettier and daintier).
Other Chinatown options (Shanghai Heping, Shanghai Cafe Deluxe, etc) - thicker wrapper, smaller dumpling (not as small as Pinch), less flavorful than KF, less crabby.