This famous dumpling house is now a state owned establishment, which usually translates to affordable prices but awful service. However, the dumplings are delicious and the variety, astounding. I would risk getting a headache pushing and shoving through crowds on Zhongjie (Central Street, a pedestrian shopping strip) to get my order of dumplings to-go next time...if they even offer them to-go.
It's called "Lao Bian" because the original owner found it impossible to keep the uncooked meat fillings from spoiling as the chefs wrapped the dumplings throughout the day, so he pre-cooked the filling before wrapping the dumplings and putting them on the steamer.
Naturally, I tried their original pre-cooked filling dumplings. It wasn't good in the utilitarian sense because the dumpling falls apart after one bite. The meat inside is not clumped together like its uncooked counterpart.
Dumplings steamed with pre-cooked meat
The waitress recommended a steamer of dumplings stuffed with 3 kinds of seafood. These dumplings were confusing. I couldn't taste seafood. Instead it tasted just like the original pre-cooked filling dumplings but with specks of sea cucumbers. These did not impress.
Dumplings filled with 3 kinds of seafood
The best dish was the snowflake pot stickers. It looked gorgeous as one on the plate, and tasted as good as it looked. I'm used to pork filled potstickers, but these were filled with shrimp, chives, and scrambled eggs. I think this filling lightens up a dumpling meal that could get too meat-heavy.
Snowflake Potstickers-shrimp, chives, and scrambled eggs