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Jan 18, 2003 03:47 AM

Xiao Long Bao Update: Shanghai, Koi Palace & DPD

  • m

A few more places to log in on the hunt for Shanghai-style little steamed dumplings (xiao long bao).

Remembering an old rec on the board for beggar’s chicken here sent me in search of Shanghai Restaurant (aka Shanghai Beach) in Daly City when I was shopping at Serramonte last month. It’s located in the same Asian shopping center as Ranch 99. I hedged my bets by ordering the day’s special, lamb hotpot, $5, as well as the Shanghai steamed dumplings, 8 for $5. The lamb hotpot was nondescript and stale tasting with tough and gamey meat. Not much seasoning other than ginger and was only saved by the dipping sauce of fermented bean curd. Left this one behind. The dumplings had good flavor and were reasonably thin. However, the top knots were too thick and doughy. These were probably frozen.

While not anxious to return, I am still curious about the beggar’s chicken. One day’s advance notice is needed and it’s $35. The other chef’s special requiring advance ordering that might be interesting is duck stuffed with eight treasures, $29.

After swearing off Koi Palace, Daly City, for more than a year due to food and service inconsistencies, a hot tip for the xlb here motivated me to cross the threshold again. Oh how I’ve missed the roast suckling pig! At $15 for a small plate, it’s still the best example I’ve had on this side of the Pacific, even the soy beans that line the plate are special. We considered ordering the fresh crab xlb, but hesitated at $25 per order. Instead we tried a small order of the standard issue, 4 for $3.30, to taste-test the dumpling chef on duty before taking the plunge. Good thing, the skins on these were too thick and firm. The soup and gingery filling were tasty though.

The mirage of a parking space in front of DPD Restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown that turned out to be real allowed me to stop here for a quick dinner last month. The xlb had that same grayish, pebbly wrapper I remembered that has that elusive elastic tender quality. The filling was a bit too firm to make the grade, but still tasty. Btw, avoid the vegetarian goose, not good at all.

So, unfortunately, none of these three offer xiao long bao to recommend.

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    1. re: chris

      DPD probably stands for Dai Pai Dong, which Hong Kong people call a fast food restaurant or food stall. Contradictorily, it's always had pretentions of being Shanghainese through its many ownership changes since it was Meilong Village.

    2. I was a fan of the xlbao at Koi Palace. But I have to say, I have a new fave--Seafood Harbor in Millbrae. It hasn't gotten raves here (or anywhere else) but those xlbao are juicy, tender, and with an acceptably thin skin--still a little thick on the topknot but definitely not frozen. Seafood Harbor's dim sum in general is good, better than Fook Yuen. Always hot. You do have to fight to get anything though--it moves fast and there seems to be no particular order to how the trays move around the rooms. They have the best un ton kow (shark fin dumpling soup) in the area. (Sorry if that's not P.C.)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Amy K

        Seafood Harbor's xlb is the best I've had at a Cantonese restaurant, but Su Hong in Menlo Park and other Shanghainese places like Old Shanghai on Geary are much better, imo. I am a long-time fan of Seafood Harbor, as are others on this board, but I do agree that it doesn't get its due. Like you, I think it has the best bun tong gao (that double-boiled clear broth!)...and you can ease your PC conscience by remembering that most of the "sharks fin" used in dim sum like this is of the fake variety. (g)