If you feel a meal is about more than just taste—if it's a multi-sense experience of taste, smell, sight, touch, and (yes) sound—then The Bao is offering up the complete package.

Tucked into 13 St. Mark's Place between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, the just-opened Chinese eatery specializes in xiao long bao ("soup dumplings"), and has already hit its stride with a menu that includes thoughtful takes on Szechuan, Hunan, and Taiwanese dishes. But the Shanghainese soup dumplings are still the main attraction, and The Bao is steaming up some of the best in New York City. (And we realize that's saying something.)

As a dish, the soup dumplings at The Bao seem to break the laws of physics. Steaming hot broth and pork meat rests inside a soft and shiny dumpling skin that's so thin it's translucent. Xiao long bao orders arrive in plates of six dumplings and range from traditional pork ($7.95) to steamed king crab ($9.95) to the palate-searing "Super Spicy" ($8.95). Each dumpling is hand-made to order and both the skins and soupy middles are prepared same-day.

"To make a fresh xiao long bao you need six hours," manager Richard Lam told us on a recent visit. "Every morning you have to make fresh broth and fillings, and the skin has to be made new every day." Lam said that most soup dumplings served citywide are pre-fab frozen affronts on xiao long bao's good name; "There's no juice in it. The skin has to be right, the filling has to be right, and it all takes time."

Lam asserts that The Bao does take that time, with every leftover dumpling discarded nightly to make room for tomorrow's fresh batch. And that dedication comes through in the taste and texture of each perfect pouch. The Bao's fare is supple, rich in flavor, and less oily than that of longtime soup dumpling spot Joe's Shanghai.

The Bao is the sister restaurant of Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao, a Flushing favorite since 2012, and hopes to capitalize on the new East Village location with a wider array of entrees and culinary stylistics. Also on the menu is Szechuan fish fillet soup—a massive bowl of spicy peppercorns, cilantro, corn, green onion, and whole tilapia floating in a beautiful chili oil broth. Pair it with the Shanghai-style crispy beef, which arrives adorned with sesame seeds and a honey glaze and you'll get an ideal family-style meal. With sides like sweetened, iced tomatoes and minced pork with black beans and chives (a Taiwanese favorite of Lam's), The Bao could be a must-visit for its non-dumpling dishes alone.

But in the end, it's all about those delectable soup dumplings, which are bite-for-bite as perfect as just about any Chinese food available in the city. Lam smiled from across a table covered with steaming bamboo plates and said "All we want is to make sure people are happy. We want New York to really have a great time with xiao long bao."