Boston’s Chinatown welcomes a dumpling powerhouse this week with the launch of Nan Xiang Express, a fast-casual offshoot of the Michelin-recommended Shanghainese restaurant Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao in Flushing, Queens.
As the name suggests, Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao is famous for its flavor-packed xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. (The restaurant landed on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list in NYC nine times in a row from 2009 to 2017.) Nan Xiang Express has a shorter menu of takeout-friendly dishes riffing off the full-service restaurant, including crab meat and pork soup dumplings; chicken, pork, or spicy beef soup dumplings; fried udon noodles and noodle soups; and appetizers like cold cucumber salad and beef tendons and tripe in a spicy sauce.
The address for the new counter-service shop — 52 Beach Street — is one with serious restaurant history in the neighborhood. For over a decade, it was home to Gourmet Dumpling House, the Chinese restaurant beloved by the public and industry insiders alike that shut down last summer.
For Nan Xiang Express, the Boston expansion came together “pretty quickly,” restaurant spokesperson Michael Ma says. To pull it off, Nan Xiang’s team partnered with a local franchisee, So Lim Ting, who also runs Friendship BBQ in Chinatown and Allston, two outposts of bubble tea shop Möge Tea in Central Square and Harvard Square, and the elegant new Chinese restaurant Jiang Nan in downtown Boston.
Eventually, if all goes well, the goal is to bring more Express locations to the area and potentially a full-service Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao, too, Ma says. The company currently has three other Express locations in New York and Maryland and plans to open five more Express spots in the tri-state region this year.
“Customers who have come to our restaurant [in New York] have said, ‘Come up to Boston! We are coming down to New York just to come to your restaurant,’” Ma says. With the opening of Express, “this was a perfect way to bring the brand to Boston.”
Nan Xiang Express is located at 52 Beach Street, in Boston’s Chinatown. It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.