TJ’s vs. Takeout: Soup Dumplings

Spoiler alert: Food from a local restaurant will always be better than food from Trader Joe’s. That being said, sometimes you don’t have the funds to eat out and need a delicious, filling meal for a couple of bucks. In this series, we’ll find out if Trader Joe’s rendition of a dish will get the job done or if it will just make you miss the real deal even more.

This week we’re tackling soup dumplings. Soup dumplings are obviously one of the most delicious foods in the world, but can something so delicate survive takeout and delivery? We pitted some of the most famous, most viral soup dumplings in the world against Trader Joe’s frozen version to see which was best for consuming at home.

Takeout: Din Tai Fung’s Kurobuta Pork Xiao Long Bao

($15.50 + tax/tip for 10)
Din Tai Fung’s soup dumplings are world-renowned. I am lucky enough to live in Los Angeles where I can have them in person at the restaurant and they are just as good as everyone says. They have a meaty pork filling that is extremely mild and savory. The soup inside the dumpling is rich and flavorful. The dumpling skin is delicate.

When you order them for takeout, however, they aren’t quite as good. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still very delicious. They’re just not as good as when you eat them at the restaurant. That said, they do come with shredded raw ginger, chili oil, and black vinegar—which is one of my favorite parts of the in-restaurant experience. It’s the perfect dumpling sauce. 

Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe’s Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings

($3.49 + tax for 6)
Much like Din Tai Fung’s soup dumplings, Trader Joe’s soup dumplings have a viral following. These turned anyone who hadn’t had soup dumplings into a soup dumpling fiend. Trader Joe’s made soup dumplings a little more accessible for people who might not live near a Chinese restaurant that has soup dumplings.

The filling is gingery and savory. The little cups in the plastic packaging help reserve any broth that might’ve escaped from your dumpling wrapping. Best of all, they’re cheap compared to the soup dumplings you get at an actual restaurant.


The obvious conclusion is that both are delicious. Dumplings are delicious in general! That being said, for takeout purposes, we have to give this one to Trader Joe’s. The packaging is perfect for at-home soup dumplings. The dumplings come out of the microwave piping hot, which is wonderful compared to the lukewarm dumplings you get by the nature of takeout or delivery. Would I take TJ’s soup dumplings over Din Tai Fung’s in general? No. But are they pretty close and better than takeout? Yes.

About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.

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