When I was introduced to soup dumplings by a NYC friend in Chinatown, I was immediately intrigued. They're a strange experience the first time, the sort of food that has to be played with a little before it can be eaten. Even while I was eating, a little maneuvering was still needed and the slurping sound that inevitably came out my mouth was a little disconcerting. I'm sure it isn't helped by the fact that at many dumpling places, you end up sitting with strangers at communal tables but that's half the fun when you get over inevitable social awkwardness.
Start by using your chopsticks to place one dumpling on the large soup spoon, bring it to your mouth and bite a small hole which you can then use to pour out the soup onto the spoon. Then, with one bite if you can manage, slurp the soup and dumpling into your mouth for an experience that's awkward but so rewarding.
Even on a hot day, soup dumplings seem to satisfy some sort of the comfort food category which can't be touched by macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese and tomato soup at any other time.
I imagine this dish tastes best in Shanghai, where it's called Xiao Long Bao, but if you can't cross the ocean - Chinatown in New York City can certainly suffice. Joe's Shanghai is just one of many places in the neighborhood that fully encourages a good "slurp"!