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After sampling the xiao long bao or Shanghai Soup Dumplings at Din Tai Fung earlier this month, I have been obsessed with thoughts of the tender juicy soup filled parcels. My friends Daisy, and P recommended a spot near to their home in the south city called Xiao Long Bao Kitchen, where we met for lunch last weekend. The specialty of the house was the object of my obsessed and tortured taste buds, so great efforts were made to fast-track this spot into our eating agenda. We got there early (11 am) on Sunday, and I was pleased to be seated in a cozy booth by the front window. Most of the tables were empty when we got there but it began to fill up as our meal progressed.
I hadn’t seen either Daisy, P or Jaytee in a while, so we had much catching up to do before we placed our order. It felt that we randomly selected a bunch of dishes without really thinking of our overall meal plan but the dumplings were very good so it was all right that we had four or five plates of similar dumplings. We began with the Salty Rice Roll ($3), made from sweet sticky rice rolled up around shredded pork floss and a fried donut! We were off to a very good start… The rolls are encased in plastic wrap and not very exciting to look at, but once you unwrap them and bite into the sticky sweet rice, your mouth is flooded with the intoxicatingly rich flavors of fried bread blended with dry, fluffy, finely shredded pork that melts on your tongue like cotton candy seasoned with soy sauce and sugar.
We shared an order of the house specialty, Xiao Long Bao, made with crab and pork filling, 8 pieces for $8.95. Compared to the ones we had at Din Tai Fung, these were gigantic and barely fit into the spoon. But they were delicious, the wraps were tender and they were full of rich broth. Jaytee said that she thought these were some of the best she’s had in the SF Bay Area (but they couldn’t compete with Joe’s Shanghai in NYC which I have yet to try)… The broth in these are richer than at Din Tai Fung, and the dumplings are larger overall.
Plump and meaty with the rich pork broth, the dumplings are a perfectly match for the pungent flavor of the soy sauce and shredded ginger.
Spicy Wontons (6 to an order) $5.95 were big and full of garlicy meat, the sauce was rich and had an lovely creamy texture and nutty flavor from sesame paste.
Beijing Style Boiled with Chive Dumplings (8 pieces) for $5.95 tasted pretty much just like the spicy wontons when I spooned the spicy sauce over it.
We received several shallow bowls filled with different sauces. This was a soy, vinegar, chili oil mixture with chopped fresh chives. It was excellent on everything, well suited for all of the dumplings.
JT had to try the Extra Large Xiao Long Bao ($2.50), which takes an extra 20 minutes.
It was quite large, 5 or 6 inches in diameter, a mountain of dumpling topped with craggy peaks and rough hewn pleats that didn’t quite meet in the center, a volcano dumpling! It was delicious but with a completely different proportion of meat to wrapper to soup ratio.
I adore the crisped bottoms of panfried Potstickers ($5.95), and so we shared an order of these.
an instagram moment
The Steamed Threaded Bread ($3) was a large, fluffy pillowy, airy and light and filled with textural amazements. Steamed silver thread buns are made by rolling the dough into thin strips, which are then wrapped inside a large, thin piece of dough skin and steam cooked.
It came with a bowl of sweetened condensed milk to dip it in, which we enjoyed for dessert.
Mr. K wasn’t able to join us for this meal, so I got an order to go to bring back home for him. We had plans to go onto a mexican market which is famous for its chicharrones and carnitas, but I got hit by a car while crossing a pedestrian crosswalk on the way back from dropping off the dumplings in my car! The car slowed down and I assumed it was going to stop so I kept on walking and much to my dismay, the car kept going and knocked me over. The rest of the afternoon was spent at the ER where I was tended to and released with crutches and a footbrace, glad that it wasn’t more serious. The moral of the story is wait til the car stops. The car will always trump the ped… And even so, I am coming back for more of those XLB!