Cheryl Baehr | |
Sum Tea House (8501 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-222-1540) has the best crab Rangoon in the St. Louis area. Admittedly, this is an odd place to start when discussing a boba shop that specializes in a kaleidoscope of teas, juices and milks. However, Sum Tea House’s version is so outstanding, it’s the one thing I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a full week after stopping into this magical little space on the western edge of University City’s unofficial Chinatown district. Expertly fried to the point where they get a little darker brown — and by extension, crispier — than the usual suspects, the triangle-shaped pillows are filled with a deeply savory and rich imitation crab and cream cheese concoction. As smooth as custard, the filling spills out when its wrapper is pierced, forming a delectable pool you scoop up with the wonton’s outside edges — or scoop off from the bottom of the container with your fingers so you can make sure you get every last drop. There’s no such thing as dignity when faced with something this magical.
While crab Rangoon might not be the first thing you’d think of ordering at a boba tea shop, there was no way owner Elaine Truong could have gotten away without serving the Chinese restaurant staple. Since she was a little girl, Truong’s parents have owned a Chinese restaurant in Granite City, Illinois, and crab Rangoon was one of their specialties. Some of Truong’s earliest memories are of her mother scooping out cream cheese into the wonton’s dough, then folding up its edges while simultaneously talking on the phone with her friends and watching soap operas. Once Truong was old enough to make them herself, she’d settle into the table across from her mom, getting into the rhythm as if mastering an instrument.