Hello, monster soup dumpling

Photo credit: Courtesy China Kitchen
SLURP, SLURP: China Kitchen's humungous dumpling comes with a straw for sucking out the soup inside.

Meet the monster soup dumpling, a face-sized and highly-Instagrammable bun packed with hot soup. Found only at China Kitchen, located inside a small food hall in Chamblee, the dumpling ($7.45) has been making the rounds on social media. Eating it is a step-by-step process: First, slurp the hot soup through a thick neon straw. Next, use your spoon to gobble up the savory blend of shrimp, mushroom and pork inside, along with the steamed flour exterior, dipped in soy sauce with vinegar, ginger and scallions.

China Kitchen's owner, Liang Rivers, added the dish to the menu at the behest of his American wife, Gina, who saw a video about the xiaolongbao (Shanghai soup dumpling) invading New York. The two successfully owned and operated the Chong Qing Hot Pot next door before they purchased China Kitchen this past spring. Gina, a retired chiropractor and marketing expert, lobbied hard to add the dish to their menu, even getting its likeness printed on T-shirts to help China Kitchen stand out from other similar restaurants around town. She calls the "inside-out wonton' an "engineering masterpiece' at least ten times the size of a regular soup dumpling.

Historically, Asian dumplings were created during the Han Dynasty to heal frostbite. This original dish (and most popular version today) was a handheld hot pocket filled with mutton, chili and healing herbs. Whether it worked to actually heal frostbite is a mystery, but the satisfaction of slurping and munching on the savory little bundles kept the dish alive.

Due to the dumpling's size, China Kitchen only makes 25 of them each day. The broth itself takes six hours to make, and the bun at least 30 minutes to prepare. (Pro tip: Call ahead to make sure it's still available if you plan to go later in the day.) Dumplings must be consumed on the premises these babies don't travel well. But as the days grow longer and colder, they're sure to satisfy those craving a bit of innovation with their comfort food.

China Kitchen, 5385 New Peachtree Road, Chamblee. 678-860-2777. chinakitchenchamblee.com.

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