First Look: Tiger Soup Dumplings at Gravois Bluffs in Fenton
Tiger Soup Dumplings is bringing Shanghai-style soup dumplings to Fenton. The restaurant opened in June at 98D Gravois Bluffs Circle Drive.
Tiger Soup Dumplings is owned and operated by Yue Zhai and Victor Lai. Yue Zhai’s mother operates Soup Dumplings STL, as well as the now-closed Private Kitchen. Zhai, who graduated college in Beijing with a degree in design, created some of the wall art for both restaurants with a friend. She moved to St. Louis in 2018, but after three years working in her mom’s restaurant, she felt the urge to open her own place. “I have to be independent,” Zhai said. “My mom needed help, so I worked there, but she wants me to be independent too.”
The menu at Tiger Soup Dumplings overlaps significantly with her mom’s University City restaurant, with one big difference. Here, you can choose to have your dumplings either steamed or pan-fried. Zhai said her soup dumplings are a little different to her mom’s. “I made a few adjustments to the flavors and ingredients,” she said. “I use a larger jumbo shrimp, and I season the food more to suit local tastes.”
The best option is simply to order a tray each of the steamed and pan-fried dumplings. Pork is the go-to filling, but you can also order beef, chicken or shrimp and cheese. Either way, you need to remember that the interior of these little parcels of joy is very hot, and the soup can squirt in any direction – take care and follow the guide on the wall to avoid burning your mouth with hot soup. On your table, you’ll find soy sauce, vinegar and Zhai's homemade chile sauce for dipping your dumplings in – mix and match these to find the right balance for your tastes.
The short menu is wrapped up with a cold garlic cucumber salad, but Zhai said she hopes to add more dishes in future. “I hope that we can show locals a different side to Chinese food that maybe they’ve never tried before, to help them appreciate how rich our food culture is,” she said.
Tiger Soup Dumplings also offers a variety of drinks, including jasmine tea. “It’s very pure, I don’t think you’ll find jasmine tea as pure as this in St. Louis,” Zhai said. The restaurant also offers homemade kombucha, as well as fruit tea and smoothies.
Zhai said she chose the Gravois Bluffs location partly because it’s close to her home, but also because she believes this location will allow her to develop the business at her own pace. “If I was opening in a very busy place, I don’t think I’d be able to handle it,” she said. Starting small means she can address each challenge one step at a time, which Zhai said will set her up to be more successful in the long run.
Tiger Soup Dumplings is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
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