Credit: Mariana Jordán

Tao Ran Ju

2002 S. Wentworth

You’d think xiao long bao, so-called soup dumplings, would necessarily contain soup—unless you’d ordered them practically anywhere in Chicago. James An of the great Yunnanese restaurant Spring World has remedied this situation at his new hot-pot restaurant, Tao Ran Ju. Here the dumplings are prepared by a chef whom An poached from legendary Taiwan-based dumpling chain Din Tai Fung, and they represent a significant step forward for Chicago. The dough still tends to be a bit too thick, but inside each nugget swims a meatball (pork or crab) in a pocket of hot, steamy broth. They still don’t rival the best xiao long bao you can find in New York, Vancouver, or Los Angeles, but it’s rare that you’ll ever be dealt a soupless dud.