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Ok, lets throw down ... rank your places for best xiao long bao (or XLB)

Here's my Top 3.

1. J&J (or Jin Jiang)
301 West Valley Blvd., #109
San Gabriel

2. Ho Ho Kitchen
10053 Valley Blvd,
El Monte

3. Mei Long Village
301 West Valley Blvd., #112
San Gabriel

And you?

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  1. hah ipse. i've only been to #3 on that list, which would probably be my #1. i'll need to check out your top two for sure...

    as it stands for now:

    1. mei long village
    2. dragon mark
    3. dtf

    (those are pretty much the only three i know ><)

    1. I have to say I'm a J&J girl, also:

      1. J&J
      2. Mei Long Village
      3. DTF

      1. is ho ho kitchen = dumpling 10053?

        2 Replies
        1. re: wilafur

          No, couple of doors down in the same strip mall.

        2. J&J

          After that, I don't care so much.

          1. -. J&J
            =. Mei Long Village

            Funny how J&J and Mei Long Village are just a few feet apart from each other. Major XLB mojo going on.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mpken

              hah? J&J is in prospect plaza along with dragonmark and mei long? if so that makes 3 XLB places in the same mall...

              1. Bless thee Chowhounds.
                Paid a visit to J and J today for previously untried XLB. Really good stuff. Chicken soup was the surprise, really good as well. Mei Long wasn't open yet (early lunch) or I may have tried to do a double taste test.


                2 Replies
                1. re: wilp

                  Yup, the stir-fried nian gao is really good there as well.

                  For some reason, I also like their egg drop corn chowder soup. Such a simple dish, but they get the cornstarch to egg ratio just right.

                  1. re: wilp

                    Yeah, the chicken soup is my mom's favorite, totally clear and flavorful without being salty. I was a little disappointed with their fish head soup (my favorite) the last time I was there-it was a little underdone, but day in day out, it's my favorite for their staples like the XLB, veggie dumplings, potstickers, etc. My brother nicknamed it the "little sad place" when he was a little chowpup due to the styrofoam cups of tea, but it's still one of his favorites as well.

                    1. re: shimpiphany

                      The one in Arcadia or Rowland Heights?

                      Been to the former, not the latter, and the food was atrocious. Noodles cooked as if I had forgotten my dentures and the buns and dumpling tasted like they were store bought straight from the freezer section.

                      I'll pass on this place.

                    2. 1. Giang-nan (deyuelou) on Garfield. Limited choices, just the pork and the crab/pork mix. But I like them.

                      2. Meilongzhen/mei long village.

                      3. LIked merry lin but they're closed. Haven't been to JZ or to J&J yet. I'm happy with giangnan, but I guess i should check it out. Has anyone tried the"new" Green Village?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jerome

                        I'm surprised Giang-nan's XLB haven't had more play in this thread. Count me among its fans also. I have a tough time choosing a favorite from among Giang-nan, MLZ and J&J...their XLB are excellent, and better than DTF and Lake Spring, IMHO.

                        Giang-nan also inhabits a happy place in my heart for its oily, molten-lava spring rolls: scalded mouth, but happy tummy.

                        Haven't tried Dragon Mark, Green Village or Ho Ho yet...something to look forward to.

                      2. Thanks for the heads up on J&J. Been to Mei Long Village several times and always peaked into J&J to see why it was so busy.

                        Today went to J&J and had the XLB, pan fried dumplings and the Shanghai rice cake and everything was good. My wife commented the XLB were good and the skin a little thicker than at Din Tai Fung, but these had more meat and flavor(also cheaper than DTF $4.50). The waitress was friendly and helpful and suggested we get the crab XLB next time. We saw them cleaning crab for the dumplings.

                        I noticed new Hong Kong style cafe next to Mei Long Village, any experience there yet? It was lunch time and the place was packed.

                        1. i've only been to dtf so i'm interested in JJ.. how is it better? can someone explain? and what should i order?

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: yum

                            Opinions about dumplings/xlb are like assh*les, everyone has one and they all think theirs is the best. :-)

                            That being said ...

                            The xlb at DTF has always seemed a bit dainty and too synthetic -- they taste fine but they've got no soul. I don't like my xlb to look and taste like they fell off a conveyor belt, or what Henry Ford would have invented if he made hamburgers instead of cars.

                            What sets the xlb apart at J&J (at least in my opinion) is that they are a bit more rustic. Sure, the skin is thicker (which is how I like my xlb, but others will surely prefer the thin versions offered by DTF), but the fillings -- either crab or pork -- offer much more subtle, layered flavors.

                            Other things to try at J&J, are the hot/sour soup, the winter melon soup, stir-fired nian-gao, and any one of the shanghai-style noodles.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              how does JJ compare to dragonmark and meilong? the reason i like mei long is that they're indeed "rustic" - a little thicker and more flavorful than DTF, but not nearly as thick and greasy as dragonmark.

                              1. re: rameniac

                                Both are good, but I feel like the skins at JJ are a bit more chewy and less flat than those at Mei Long Village.

                            2. re: yum

                              I admit, because J&J was one of the first places in San Gabriel to do XLB, they're the XLB of my childhood and in some ways, it may be that nobody will ever measure up. That being said, I do think they still do some of the best.

                              As mentioned above, although the skin is a bit thicker than DTF (not that much, though!), the flavor of the fillings is much more interesting to me, both in their crab and pork. I also really like their veggie dumplings, potstickers (must order early, because they're all done to order), smoked fish, green onion pancake, sauteed eels, fried pork chop on veggie rice, and the shanghai noodles. I also like their fish head casserole, although it wasn't as great as usual last time I was there.

                              Funny story, several years ago, I looked out the window to see the usual Sunday morning line outside J&J, and who should I see in line but Mr. Chow (of the infamous "Mr. Chow's"). I was like, "Wow! Mr. Chow is in line for the little sad place!"

                              1. re: sidwich

                                "Funny story, several years ago, I looked out the window to see the usual Sunday morning line outside J&J, and who should I see in line but Mr. Chow (of the infamous "Mr. Chow's"). I was like, 'Wow! Mr. Chow is in line for the little sad place!'"


                                Funny indeed.

                                He feeds crap to his customers but knows better when feeding himself.

                                "Never feed yourself what you feed to others ...?"

                              2. re: yum

                                My review here (+ link to my blog with pics of the infamous xlb)


                                I like them better than DTF due to large size, more substantial skin, and a more flavorful broth in the dumpling. Oh yea, and the lack of a constant half-hour-plus wait time! (And you can only walk up and down the aisle of Life Plaza checking out Asian snacks & air fresheners so many times.


                                Everything else I had there is good (scallion cakes, stir fried rice cakes) - albeit just a bit too greasy for my benchmarks.


                                1. re: AquaW

                                  Awesome pics ... I envy those with such photographic skills.

                              3. I finally made it to J&J for their XLB (after being a long-time patron of DTF). While the flavors are bolder at J&J, I think I prefer the subtler flavor of DTF. Also, the size is both good and bad; good because it's cheaper so you get more per unit cost, bad because it's more difficult to pop the whole thing in your mouth. Also had the scallion cakes, which were really tasty.

                                3 Replies
                                    1. re: SauceSupreme

                                      I actually prefer to eat my XLB in multiple bites ... once halved, it's that much easier to get more ginger and soy sauce into those suckers ...

                                      Nice pix.

                                1. Dang it, we need a map that shows the locations of all these places in SGV, so those of us who are uninitiated can do a "DIM SUM/XLB crawl".

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Diana

                                    its easy to do yourself. just go to rand mcnally and plot it using the roadtrip feature. =)

                                    1. re: wilafur

                                      This is supposed to be part of the next volley of new chowhound features actually. No, not XLB in LA specifically, but the ability to do local mapping and wikis.

                                  2. Dumpling Master. Fish dumplings are particularly good.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: takecake

                                      Dumplings =/= XLB

                                      Dumpling Master = subpar dumplings

                                    2. So I'm having some family over on Saturday at around 11am. I want to serve some good XLB. I saw the thread on the frozen ones and it seems Mama's would be the one I'd get since the family has already had Kuan's already (very good). But I think I'd prefer to serve the ones from Mei Long or J&J.

                                      So here's my question, can I buy the XLB at Mei Long of J&J Saturday morning? If so, would it still taste good by 11am? Or am I better off getting some frozen ones and steaming them up at home?

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: bigtums

                                        Don't ask me why but I have been eating lots of dumplings lately. I have found that most of these so-called juicy dumplings really do not begin life with all that much juice/soup. The result is the longer you wait before eating them is the pasta wrapper sems to soak it up. I also have decided that this stuff is so expensive. I mean last week I ordered two orders of Juicy dumplings from Din Tai Fung in Arcadia (almost $14 for twenty small dumplings with pork sausage) to-go and two of us were still very hungry after we finished them. We next went to Moffett’s Chicken Pie shop just South two blocks and across Baldwin (kind of like a very large chicken dumpling with lots of chicken and flavor for a very reasonable price) and ordered two pies to-go. They traveled very well. Bottom line, no more of this very expensive dumpling habbit for me.

                                        However, I understand that others still want them. If I were you, and since you are doing this on a Saturday morning, I would call Din Tai Fung ahead of time and try to arrange for the amount you want to be waiting for you when they open. Also, request the "extra juicy dumplings" which they only offer on Saturday morning. People sometimes line-up before the place opens for these extra jucy dumplings and then they sell-out. That is why I say call ahead.... The chicken dumplings at Din Tai Fung are also very good with more meat than the pork -- yet not the juicy style. I would still play it safe and get some un-cooked pot pies to-go from Moffett’s the night before and be ready to pop them in the oven around noon when everyone is HUNGRY.

                                        Din Tai Fung Dumpling House (#50, Juicy Pork Dumplings – 10pcs $6.75, & #53, Shrimp & Pork Dumplings – 10 pcs $7.25)
                                        1108 South Baldwin Avenue
                                        Arcadia,California 91007
                                        Mon to Fri 11:00 - 2:30 & 5 - 9:30
                                        Sat 10:30- 2:30 & 5 - 9:30
                                        Sun 10:30 - 2:30 & 5 - 9:00

                                        1. re: JeetJet

                                          Thanks for the info! But I don't think this will work for me because of the timing. My family is coming over like at 11am and I live in Highland Park. But thanks anyway.

                                          I'm also serving some other food, BBQ, and such so I'm not too worried about people getting hungry.

                                          I remember going to Moffett's when they had one in Hacienda Heights, by the mall. That was a long time ago, but I loved it. I was super bummed when they closed. Thanks to chowhound I've now learned that the original one is in Arcadia. All this time I thought the Hacienda one was the original.

                                        2. re: bigtums

                                          You should be able to get them raw at either J&J or MLV and then steam them yourself.

                                          I trust you have the appropriate triple decker bamboo steamer and requisite napa cabbage leaves?

                                          Also, if you need them by 11 a.m. Saturday, I'm not sure you can buy them at J&J or MLV before then on Saturday morning. I think both places open at 11 a.m. Could be wrong on that count, however.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            I do have the triple decker steamer. So maybe I can buy them raw on Friday? If not, then I'm going to get them frozen at Mama's. I'm trying to limit my Saturday morning errands since I'll probably be doing some last minute cleaning.

                                            Although J&J opening at 9am sure sounds like a good idea too.

                                            Thanks for the help!

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              I ended up buying some frozen ones at Mama today. $17.50 for 50. I'm going to steam some up tonight for dinner, if they're good I'll stick with these. I was going to get the ones from Yi Mei but they put MSG in theirs. And I can probably eat like 10 of these and all that MSG would give me a headache.

                                              Wish me luck with my steamer, I've never used it (or anyone at that) before!

                                              1. re: bigtums

                                                Remember ... nappa cabbage. It not only prevents sticking, but adds a nice "spring-like" aroma to the XLB and the entire kitchen!

                                                Enjoy and good luck.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Ditto that. Use the leaves to line the bottom so that the dumplings don't stick. You need only a single layer, and place them where you are going to put the dumplings on top of them. Test with a few small with batches different cooking times so that you can tell when they are done. Good luck!

                                                  1. re: raytamsgv

                                                    Well, I have 50 chances to get it right. Thanks for the tips!

                                                    1. re: bigtums

                                                      Well the XLB from Mama's was a hit! I put them in a steamer for 20 minutes and it was perfect. They were really juicy. I actually only served 30. I ate the other 20 earlier in the week, I couldn't help myself. I don't feel too bad that not everyone got to have at least one. That's what happens when you're late.

                                                      1. re: bigtums

                                                        Where is Mama's? I might need to try and buy them frozen, if they worked out as nicely as you say. Then I can have them more regularly.

                                                        1. re: debra

                                                          Mama's is right next to Yi Mei in Monterey Park. It's on Atlantic in the same square as Elite Dim Sum. I think it's 732 S Atlantic Blvd.

                                            2. re: bigtums

                                              You should call in advance if you want to buy XLB from the restaurants. That way, you'll be guaranteed they will have enough for you. According to their takeout menus (which may be a bit dated), Mei Long village opens at 1130. J&J opens at 9 AM on weekends and at 11 AM on weekdays.

                                              Also, you don't necessarily need a bamboo steamer, although they are the best. You can also steam them in a wok, but you should definitely use the Napa valley cabbage to prevent them from sticking.

                                            3. I guess I'm the only one that still thinks DTF is #1.

                                              25 Replies
                                                1. re: choctastic

                                                  you aren't alone. i love their thin skinned juicy dumplings. I'm a fan of MLV and J&J too, but how DTF ends up with such a delicate wrapper is amazing (and delicious).

                                                  1. re: debra

                                                    " ... but how DTF ends up with such a delicate wrapper is amazing (and delicious)."


                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      I can live with that ; ) It's delicate and delicious. The machine is a bonus in this case... I also enjoy XLB at MLV, and the Bonus there... Lion Head Meatballs and Jade Shrimp.

                                                      God Bless the XLB and everyone (or thing) that makes them. I rank a good batch of 'em right up there with the perfect sunset.

                                                      XLB anecdote: I was recently in SF, at a place recommended for XLB. Of course they were listed in the menu simply as dumplings, so I ask the people next to us --who have a steamer full of what I recognize as XLB, if those are the soup dumplings. They both say, no they're just plain dumplings. My friend and I give each other the "whatever, that's definitely them" glance to each other. Then, to our HORROR, we watch as they poke a hole, let the liquid run out, then eat the dumpling. We were in shock, we could hardly watch the butchery. but they didn't seem open to tips if you know what I mean. They must have thought that water got in the dumpling, and they were letting it drain. Can you imagine. I'm still traumatized over it.

                                                      1. re: debra

                                                        My God! My stomach turns just thinking of that!

                                                        They should be brandished with a scarlet XLB cross their lapels and stamped on their foreheads!

                                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                                        They don't roll them by machine... you can watch them roll out the wrappers with round sticks through the glass window as you're waiting for a table. Those people are FAST.

                                                        1. re: will47

                                                          Yeah, I used to watch them all the time but I thought maybe my memory was playing tricks on me since I haven't paid attention recently.

                                                          1. re: choctastic

                                                            Plus, ipsedixit said it with such conviction, it almost had to be true...

                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                              As I read the word "machine" I could have sworn I imagined him waving his hand from left to right, while wearing a dark brown cloak and a light saber by his side.

                                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                                          I'm not the biggest fan of DTF either, but unless by machine you mean the dowel the cooks use to roll out the dough, the XLB are rather blatantly made by hand, in full public view.

                                                      3. re: choctastic

                                                        You're not alone. Many do prefer the more delicate skin and subtle filling (see Saturday and Sunday lines). The J&J and MLV party is just very vocal on these boards...I can think of 2 in particular ;-). I think everyone should try both though to see what the fuss is about on both sides!

                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                          I don't have anything against DTF. I just find it a bit disconcerting, even unsettling, that some folks would consider the xlb at DTF to be the end-all-be-all of xlb.

                                                          That just isn't the case. If one likes the xlb at DTF, that's fine but just don't be under the impression that the version of xlb at DTF is the way that all xlb should be.

                                                          It's sort of like if the only hamburger you ever ate was at McDonald's and then you come on Chowhound and say, "hey, the best hamburger in the world is at McDonald's cuz it's perfectly round and the patties fit so snuggly between them three round buns, and the special sauce is spiced just right to bring out the sweet undertones of the pickles and the pungent flavors of the onion bits." It just ain't so.

                                                          By the way, one thing I will say about DTF that I do like is their chicken soup made with organic chicken (or "too-jee"). A bit medicinal for some tastes, but it sure hits the spot when the weather turns a bit chilly.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            Agreed. I don't think anyone feels DTF is the end-all-be-all of XLB. They may like it the best in the LA area but I think most people recognize that better versions do exsit in Taiwan or Shanghai.

                                                            As I said, everyone should go check out J&J and MLV in addition to DTF to see what style they prefer. DTF isn't the pinnacle of XLB but it's not subpar either. And it's certainly no McDonald's. I think it's safe to say that those 3 are amongst the majority's top 5.

                                                            The soup is good, the "nian gao" is good and even the fried rice is pretty good. The shrimp and pork filling is really high quality. DTF's not perfect. 2 notable clunkers include the crab XLB and the infamous "soup" dumplings (served with soup, not soup on the inside). That version of "soup" dumplings is just silly.

                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                              gotta agree on one point. dtf makes a great nian gao dish.

                                                              1. re: wilafur

                                                                Porthos and wilafur, both of you should try the nian-gao at Chang's Garden. Their xlb ain't bad either.

                                                                Chang's Garden
                                                                627 West Duarte Road
                                                                (626) 445-0606.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  i'll give chang's a whirl next time i head east.

                                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                                              Look I'm sorry. I've been to a bunch of other places and I do love J&J as my #2, but for some reason I really enjoy going to DTF. I dunno why. I even like the little "soup" dumplings that everyone complains about. I think they're really cute. Worth a 30 minute wait? Sure, I've waited longer for lamer things. Look I said I'm sorry.

                                                              Now that you mention it, I do like the McDonald's filet o fish....

                                                              1. re: choctastic

                                                                Don't be sorry. Your tastes are what they are. And I like DTF also; I use the time waiting in line to chat with old friends and enjoy good company.

                                                                Filet-o-fish, on the other hand...

                                                                Din Tai Fung Restaurant
                                                                1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

                                                                J & J Restaurant
                                                                301 W Valley Blvd Ste 109, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                                Mei Long Village
                                                                301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                                1. re: choctastic

                                                                  No sorrys! That place is insanely crowded for a reason. The filet o fish I remember being better. Chicken nuggets on the other hand-yum!

                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  The big question is, how heavy is the MSG usage at the top 3 in this thread? Sure they're more down to earth neighborhood more accessible kind of places, but that does not mean they don't cause headaches, dry throat, thirstiness, which I'm sure can happen to anyone at any level. I didn't get a chance to try Mei Long earlier this month when I was down there.

                                                                  I've been to DTF twice in the past 7 years at Arcadia, once in Taipei, and once in Hong Kong. All I can say is that while you are paying for the name and decor, but you are also paying for quality. Never walked out with after effects, so even if they add MSG it's mild.

                                                                  I too prefer thin skins, just like my jiaozi and shui jiao which is also a preference thing.

                                                                  Technically Too-Jee is range chicken or joh di jee as they would call it in HK (Mandarin pronounciation) or perhaps jidori in Japanese. Whether they are fed organic grains I'm not sure but if DTF Arcadia is using organic free range chicken that's good. I don't recall DTF's yuen jung ji tang (range chicken soup) having a medicinal or herbal flavor, at least it was not strong at all to me. It had a subtle sweetness to it.

                                                                  1. re: K K

                                                                    To me, MSG usage is not correlative of quality.

                                                                    I actually find MSG to be a necessary ingredient in certain dishes.

                                                                3. re: Porthos

                                                                  I hope I'm counted as one of this "party"! I love how I can just walk into MLV and get XLB that IMO are better than at DTF with NW (no wait!). One order of pork XLB is the perfect meal for one person! With the free tea, of course. Comes out to less than 10 dollars with tip, if I remember correctly. I can't think of a more satisfying meal. Think I'll try Chang's too. I will continue to avoid DTF like the plague, because I can't stand lines for over-hyped food.

                                                                  1. re: azibo

                                                                    I'm embarrassed to say I just tried the Lion's Head meatballs at MLV while of course getting the requisite pork XLBs. They are by far the most delicious meatballs I've ever had. So moist and flavored so nicely. And the mushrooms were amazing in that dish too! Highly recommended to try those when you go to try the XLBs.

                                                                    1. re: azibo

                                                                      Glad you enjoyed those dishes, we were at MLV yesterday morning enjoying the same menu (plus the Jade Shrimp & Shanghai Spareribs). Delish. We followed that up with one of the $15 foot massages in that same center. FANTASTIC. Lunch and a massage for less than $30. That center is a GEM.

                                                                      Prospect Plaza
                                                                      301 W. Valley
                                                                      San Gabriel

                                                                4. re: choctastic

                                                                  I've been to DTF once and I still don't think what I ate justifies having to line up a half an hour before they open. Maybe I just got the wrong things.

                                                                  1. re: slacker

                                                                    I don't get this whole DTF backlash that seems to be going on in LA. Can we just admit that it's better than most, not as good as some? I've never been to most of the places mentioned here, but regardless DTF is an excellent dumpling house.

                                                                    1. re: david t.

                                                                      I can't think of a busier Chinese restaurant in the L.A. area in terms of how long you have to wait to eat there, be it lining up 30 minutes before opening time or waiting an hour for a table on Wednesday night. As such, this raises the expectations of how good the food is, perhaps way beyond the quality of the food, unless you are particularly devoted to their presentation. I would say to those who denigrate the Arcadia location compared to the Taiwanese and Hong Kong branches that the Arcadia branch is clearly superior to the Toronto branch, surprising since Toronto Chinese food might be a little better than what we get here.

                                                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                        Sorry to burst bubbles here but the Toronto location, if we are talking about the one near Richmond Hill inside this huge shopping and restaurant complex, is a restaurant that clearly stole the name and tried copying the menu and is not an official branch. I was there once in 2003. Greasy as hell and a lot of unrefined MSG, hopefully not the kind some people enjoy that that causes all joints in the body to go stiff except the right one, like rheumatism ;-). It's no surprise Arcadia DTF (the real branch) beats that place hands down.


                                                                        Hope that link works. Toronto is not listed as an official US location, the only one is Arcadia in all of North America (at this time).

                                                                        In terms of waiting time, part of it has to do with management, location, and of course customer base and local culture. In Taipei, tourists and locals tend to know the drill. They go in, order a XLB or crab XLB, maybe a soup, and leave to eat the next best thing. Wait times are not as horrid as a result. In Arcadia....well what can I say, even I'm not too fond of my kind at times (especially at dim sum restaurants etc), too many table hoggers, families, those who like to socialize chit chat drink tea and not make the restaurant a lot of money at a fast rate :-). Some retired folks (at dim sum restaurants) like to sit down hog a table order only apot of tea and read the newspaper cover to cover, and they don't order an item to eat for quite some time. Hope that doesn't happen at DTF. If it were in HK these kind of folks would be bringing in their caged birds too.

                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                          Shades of Hui Lau Shan in San Gabriel (they not only copied the name and the menu but the tables and chairs) and Little Sheep (I believe the one up your way, not the ones down here in the San Gabriel Valley)!

                                                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                            There was a recent article from a few short months ago on East-West Gourmet publication (SF Bay Area publication whose editor in chef is Martin Yan (can cook)). Little Sheep has tons of imitations, but the Union City and San Mateo (soon to open) locations are official branches. I'm sure there are and will be official ones in SGV soon, it's such a super hot commodity and since the LS hotpot group is seeking global domination in that market. We had a fake Little Sheep at Milpitas which they rebranded as Zhao's Hot Pot.

                                                                            HLS US branches were never official to begin with aka the former Milpitas (now Bolansa), LA, and NY branches. HLS HK was very upset about that, so Creations Dessert in SF is the only real deal and supposed got their blessing and endorsement.

                                                                            What can I say, Toronto has tons of expats from Hong Kong and a much larger base than their Taiwanese counterparts. So it's no surprise that they're strong in various Southern Chinese and Cantonese cuisines. Granted there are decent Northern Chinese restaurants in Toronto, but I guess finding decent Taiwanese could be like pulling teeth. And plus those (Canto) restaurants can afford to hire top chefs straight out of Hong Kong as competition is fierce.

                                                                            Back to the DTF discussion: I completely understand that to some DTF is "overhyped" and not worth the wait, but in parallel so is Koi Palace in Northern California and The Kitchen (there's now a location in SGV/MP yes?). You either love it and will wait it out regardless, or you find other alternatives. Plus it is also a known "brand" amongst Taiwanese expats and foodies, much like Ay Chung is. Regardless of how authentic or near miss such overseas locations offer, there will always be that appeal of being able to have that taste from abroad on our shores, whether they replicate it to some degree or not. Of course SGV is Taipei central, it would be impossible for the place not to have insane waits. (I've never been to DTF during dinner, are the waits insane as they are during lunch?)

                                                                            Just be glad that DTF still takes your order in advance while you are waiting, so by the time you get your table you save time on waiting for the food to come. You definitely won't see that at Koi Palace or The Kitchen...

                                                                            My vote still goes to DTF for now (someday I promise I will try those top 3) but given that DTF is seemingly cleaner/nicer decor and sit down digs, no grease and grit factor, at least no MSG poisoning compared to Northern California Shanghainese restaurants in general, and other than the wait, an overall pleasant experience. Definitely trumps HC Dumpling House in Nor Cal Cupertino Village (even though HC's dumpling chef is/was from Taiwan).

                                                                            This XLB discussion is almost turning into a pseudo who does the best sushi in LA debate. Different schools, different thoughts.

                                                                            1. re: K K

                                                                              I'm pretty sure that the Little Sheep here in the San Gabriel Valley are the real deal. The one I saw last month in Montreal is definitely suspicious. The DTF debate on this board is a little different from the varying opinions on Koi Palace and The Kitchen on the Bay Area board in that it seems that the majority of posters here are anti-DTF and the defenders are a distinct minority. Contrasting this to the crowds that mill outside of DTF (and yes, it is just as bad at lunchtime--I tried to go there for my birthday on a weekday and it was one hour then, too) and you have one wide gulf that is difficult to explain.

                                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                The LS in Montreal is an official branch.

                                                                                No listings for SGV interestingly, so those might be fakes, either that or the webmaster is lagging.


                                                                                The San Mateo store isn't listed yet but will come in the next month or two.

                                                                                I/we would be interested in hearing your views on DTF once you have the chance to actually dine there :-)

                                                                          2. re: K K

                                                                            "Toronto is not listed as an official US location"

                                                                            gee, i wonder why.....


                                                                          3. re: Chandavkl

                                                                            Well said Chandavkl.

                                                                            I personally LOVE Din Tai Fung (Arcadia), and appreciate its Refinement and Quality. I'm sensitive to MSG exposure: A bit too much (even what some people may consider "mild"), and I'll get dry throat, slight headaches. I've never had that at DTF, but some of the old-school SGV restaurants listed above have given me the after-effects due to MSG.

                                                                            You hit the nail on the head in regards to The Wait. I liken it to Cheesecake Factory: Personally whenever I see the MOBS of people waiting in front of a Cheesecake Factory, and the ~45 minute - 1.5 HOUR wait, I laugh. While I enjoy Cheesecake Factory, it's definitely NOT worth that kind of wait time.

                                                                            For DTF, I think some people may be getting that kind of negative reaction as well: It's good, but they don't want to sit around and have to wait 30+ minutes just to eat some dumplings. Especially in "Asian Central" (San Gabriel Valley), where 95% of the restaurants have little-to-no waiting to eat.

                                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                              I would like to get an updated opinion (you too ipse). What are your current top 5 XLB places? Anyone else? Looking for current top 5 XLB places as of sept 14th. Coming up from San Diego for a XLB crawl and I want the most bang for my buck. (all old posts reviewed)

                                                                              1. re: koreansoup

                                                                                I dunno how much of a response you'll get from this really old and relatively long thread. Check out this one if you haven't already for a more recent discussion, and maybe bump it if you need to: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966300

                                                                                I'm definitely in the DTF camp, and I haven't tried all the contenders, but here's my list, broken down by two criteria:

                                                                                Build Quality (mostly related to skin, uniformity and structural integrity, few or no bursts, etc.)

                                                                                1. DTF
                                                                                2. Shanghai Dumpling House
                                                                                3. Dean Sin World
                                                                                4. ROC
                                                                                5. J&J

                                                                                Flavor (mostly related to filling)

                                                                                1. J&J
                                                                                2. Dean Sin World
                                                                                3. DTF
                                                                                4. Shanghai Dumpling House
                                                                                5. ROC

                                                                                Edit: I threw ROC in the ranking just to rile things up. ;-)

                                                                        2. Kuan's Chinese Restaurant in Montebello. Big and juicy.

                                                                          I'll have to try the other selections. DTF was a real disappointment for their dumplings in general.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: JinCC

                                                                            The fillings at Kuan's is a bit rubbery in texture.

                                                                            1. re: JinCC

                                                                              I loved Kuan's and so did my aunt. Until she had some from Mama's this weekend.

                                                                            2. So we ended up going to "the other" Mama's kitchen on New Ave for lunch. They XLB there was pretty good also -- the skin was somewhere between the delicate DTF variant and the thicker J&J variant.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                So that's the same place? I actually went to Mei Long for the first time last night and on the way home I passed the Mama's on New and wondered if it was the same as the one on Atlantic. Is that a take out window I saw? Or is it a sit down restaurant?

                                                                                I thought the XLB at Mei Long was good, but I'm waiting to try J&J to make a final decision. (I went back and forth on which place to go to-I did a lot of reading on both and decided at the last second to go with Mei Long). The XLB didn't blow me away, but it didn't help that when someone had handed me one they broke the bottom. But I could appreciate the skin and filling and they were good. The Lion's head at Mei Long-delicious!

                                                                                1. re: bigtums

                                                                                  I'm not entirely certain, but I was under the impression that Mama's Kitchen was Taiwanese, so I went in expecting to find stinky tofu and what not. Instead, it appears to be doing shandong cuisine. They even had a beef roll there that could rival 101 Noodle Express! It didn't include as much of that hoisin-ish sauce, and also included a scrambled egg as part of the roll (I was told that the beef roll was co-opted by the Taiwanese as breakfast food, so I definitely can see that in Mama's prep). But no, I don't think that the two are related.

                                                                                  Actually, TonyC and Erik M could better describe the beef noodle dish we had there -- while I wasn't too keen on the cut of beef, the hand-made noodles were great and had a nice punchy broth to go with it.

                                                                                  But I thought the XLB there at New Ave Mama's were pretty good.

                                                                                  1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                    The Mama's Kitchen at New Ave does have typical Taiwanese food. It's listed on the wall in one of the many hand-written menus masquerading as wall paper.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      As corrected ever-so-gently by Mrs. Hua of Mama's on New Ave, she, and the store, are Shandong tried and true. When she took the store over ~10 years ago, it was indeed Taiwanese (also I had remembered) hence the restaurant kept some of the "flavors".

                                                                                      The Taiwanese inflection is clearly nonexistent upon first look at the porkchop over rice. Zero zilch resemblance to anything out of Old Country/Yi Mei/Pa Pa Walk, etc. Coated with panko and fried to nearly KFC brown... pass.

                                                                                      Re: Mama's niou rou mien
                                                                                      knife-shaven noodles from hand kneed dough made in house. perfectly cooked, not too al dente. matched with house made pickled mustard greens and vinegary seaweed from the deli case...

                                                                                      their XLB was pretty decent. sturdier than DTFs, on par w/ Mei Long's, light hint of pork but not grossly pungent. and cheap.

                                                                                      Re: Kuan's in Montebello
                                                                                      ate 2 baskets (it's still BOGO) and i pray to not eat another in a long long time tho they're now my neighbors. The restaurant had no Taiwanese servers, but the owner personally assured over an email Kuan's still Taiwanese owned. Not that it matters much. Foul XLB.

                                                                                      Has anyone tried XLB from Wok and Noodle (on Valley) lately? It's been a while since my last visit...

                                                                                      1. re: TonyC

                                                                                        Is Mama's still running those Buy 1 Get 1 Free specials for the pork chop rice and noodle dishes and the other "house special" items?

                                                                                        I forget and perhaps I'm getting my local joints mixed up, but is Mama's the place with a lamb roll (in the same vein as the beef roll but made with lamb), or am I thinking of some place else?

                                                                              2. I like Mei Long best, and J&J well enough. Agreed that DTF has no soul (and is not worth the wait).

                                                                                I had a basket of xlb at Pa Pa Walk last week and it was mighty tasty. It's been awhile since I've had any so I might be off my xlb game, but it's worth a try if you're doing a comprehensive xlb crawl in LA. Pa Pa Walk is in the same plaza as the big yellow Hilton just a block or two down Valley from Mei Long. Same side of the street. Delicious papaya milkshakes too!

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Pei


                                                                                  Next time you're at Pa Pa Walk make sure to get this: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/424687

                                                                                  You're doing yourself a disservice if you limit your Pa Pa Walk experience to mere xlb.

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    LOL. Sorry to see your review on their xlb, but thank you for the heads up! I only tried a few dishes last time I was there but will be returning for that fried toast n' chowder. Their wall is dizzying, there are so many delicious sounding things!

                                                                                  2. re: Pei

                                                                                    Pei have you tried Giang-nan on Garfield? AKA 得月樓

                                                                                    l like them a lot.

                                                                                  3. I kind of prefer Dragon Mark over both Jin Jiang and Mei Long Village. Dragon Mark is the one situated right in between those two places in the same strip mall.

                                                                                    Dragon Mark (Yitiao Long)
                                                                                    301 W Valley Blvd Ste 110, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                                                    1. So, I had to jump in on this thread. I'm new to town and so far I've tried Mei Long, DTF, and J&J....and the winner is.......DTF.

                                                                                      I agree, the place is pretty sterile, and runs like a robot factory, but their XLB had the most integrity and flavor. J&J is a close second. Mei Long, what the heck! I tried their XLB on two different occasions and both times they arrived lukewarm, shriveled, and stuck fast to the flimsy paper on the bottom of a very deep basket. Nearly impossible to pick up with chopstix without destroying them. Both times I went, it wasn't that busy either. They have killer hot & sour soup, I'll give them that.

                                                                                      DTF's XLB, on the other hand, arrived piping hot, plump, and sitting nicely on a cabbage leaf in a nice, easily-scoopable basket. They were substantial, VERY flavorful, and their ginger is hand-shaved (I saw a guy doing it!). The three times I've been I never had to wait.

                                                                                      J&J's were somewhere between the other two.

                                                                                      So there. :o)

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Mellu

                                                                                        I like both equally though for various reasons,
                                                                                        DTF and J&J are both worth a try at least once (although I'll keep going to both for a while) especially in San Gabriel, although I can get my fixes in Rowland/Hacienda Heights, J&J in San Gabriel is an experience in it of itself.

                                                                                        1. re: b0ardkn0t

                                                                                          Ok, I've had DTF many times with nothing to compare it to. My hubby and I went to lunch today and tried Mei Long Village. Yum. We had Shanghai Steamed Dumpling, Crab and Pork Steamed Dumpling, Pan Fried Dumpling and Radish Pan Cake. I thought the fillings were more interesting. I didn't think they were that much bigger than DTF. The one negative is that I noticed that the tip tops of the dumplings were white and hard like the steaming wasn't conplete but when you ate them there was no discernable textural difference. I really couldn't tell that the skins were thicker than at DTF as noted in many references above. The tea was pretty generic, not Jasmin. 4 orders came to $25 and we rolled out of there. Next time we go we will have to take our Chinese American friends who wrinkled their noses at the suggestion of DTF. We looked at what other people were ordering (not dumplings) and everything looked delicious. We're looking forward to going back. We will still go to DTF as well.

                                                                                      2. I skimmed the thread and didn't see anyone mention Lucious Dumpling. I think they're better than DTF and J&J. Now when I just want dumplings I go to Lucious Dumplings, and I go to DTF only when I want one of their delicious sides to go with the juicy pork dumplings.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: chowmominLA

                                                                                          Technically, the dumplings at Luscious are not true XLB which may be one reason they're not in this convo.

                                                                                          However, I agree with you - their pork dumplings are better than anything I've had from any of the other restaurants mentioned in this thread.

                                                                                          Also, Noodle World on Garvey makes a steamed pork dumpling that is very much like a XLB even though it looks like a potsticker.

                                                                                          1. re: chowmominLA

                                                                                            XLB =/= dumplings.

                                                                                            Luscious Dumplings does not make XLB (although their dumplings are indeed mighty fine).

                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                              i have definitely had soup dumplings at Luscious.

                                                                                              1. re: butterqueen

                                                                                                Yes, they are called "soup dumplings" on the menu (if I recall correctly, they are called "pork with soup, steamed" under the "Dumplings" section of the menu), but they are not XLB.

                                                                                                Heck, in fact if you asked the owner of Luscious Dumplings if those were "xiao long bao" he might throw you out the door.

                                                                                          2. My Update:

                                                                                            Dean Sin World is now in a tie with J&J for #1..... exciting news for all you XLB freaks.... Give them a try. Excellent scallion pancakes (tsong yeoh bing) too.

                                                                                            Dean Sin World
                                                                                            On Garfield, in the Giang Nan complex, just south of the hospital, in Monterey Park

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: J.L.

                                                                                              Hi J.L.,

                                                                                              Thanks for the insight on this place. If I may ask, did they reopen? I thought someone posted recently on Chowhound that Dean Sin World was closed for a long period of time? Glad to hear they reopened.

                                                                                              1. re: exilekiss

                                                                                                I went about 2 weeks ago. Open and busy!

                                                                                            2. J&J are definitely my favorite. The broth has more flavor than Mei Long Village and the dumplings never break open before you bite into one to suck out the deliciousness.
                                                                                              I also like Luscious Dumplings- but the wait and the hours are annoying.