December 8, 2020

New York City restaurants continue to get creative as they face a potential indoor dining shutdown


Restaurants throughout the country are bracing themselves for a rough winter as concerns for public health and safety could lead to further restrictions on an industry that’s already been hard hit since March.

Operators in New York City, where restaurants can currently seat guests at 25% capacity indoors with a 10 p.m. curfew on dine-in service, fear they will have to close their interior spaces again.

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao in Flushing has also been experimenting with its operations and menu. After closing its doors for less than three weeks during the pandemic, the restaurant, well known for its xiao long bao (soup dumplings), reopened and started selling frozen products for customers to make at home.

The dining spot also implemented “safety protocols including booking nearby hotels and shuttle cars for staff, installing hand sanitizer stations, and creating contactless order and payment systems,” Eddie Zheng, general manager, said in a release.

In addition to releasing new bites such as pan-fried cheese and shrimp dumplings, Nan Xiang launched a limited-time xiao long bao set—the Three Treasures XLB—last month during a one-year anniversary celebration of its new location. The restaurant is hoping the special will draw in diners looking for “Instagram-worthy” dishes to post on social media.

The new soup dumplings have skins with colorful swirls inspired by watercolors. Each color corresponds with a particular filling that contains a Chinese delicacy: green (braised abalone); black (spiny sea cucumber); and red (Chinese-style dry-cured and smoked ham).