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best soup dumplings in LA????

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hello....

pppplease help me find great soup dumplings.....
i'm totally craving it!
i used to live in nyc, and chinatown had the greatest
crab-pork soup dumplings....
i have yet to find one that compares in la....

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  1. Din Tai Fung in Aracdia. Juicy pork dumplings are damn good, too. The soup dumplings disappear early on Saturday mornings, though, so you'll need to be in line first thing.

    Your dumpling question will undoubtedly create a firestorm of opinions on this board now...

    4 Replies
    1. re: glutton

      Ditto on Din Tai Fung. However, I've yet to find a place in LA that serves them up as large as the Joe's Shanghai variety. Anyone know?

      1. re: dynamike

        i'm with dynamike... not sure if there are places that serve 'roided up XLB's like Joe's in NYC. DTF - crowded, expensive. there are better places.

      2. re: glutton

        They are the best. The owner was the first in the nation to do this. WARNING! make sure you know how to eat them. If you just pop one into your mouth you will burn yourself. Pick up the dumpling and bite a small hole into it and suck out the broth. It is molten hot

        1. re: Chili

          That's only one way, some of us like the 'flavor burst in your mouth' effect, rather than slurping out the soup first. If you wait just a little bit, you won't burn yourself.

      3. See my prior post here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/359048

        1. Just do a search this has been covered maybe 100 times the last month alone.

          1. My sister and I are dying to try soup dumplings and have done extensive research on chowhound. I believe the front runners are Mei Long Village and J&J. If there are better rec's, they would be much appreciated :)

            2 Replies
            1. re: MeowMixx

              after reading ipsedixit .. I have become a serious Mei long Village junkie, those soup dumplings call to me weekly!

              1. re: wizardx

                I prefer J&J over Mei Long Village. I've tried to figure out what the big hulaballoo is with MLV's version, and I still don't get it. Their XLB has some serious funky aftertaste to them that immediately reminds me of unclean meat. I thought it was a fluke the first time I tried them, but two years later I tried again and the funk was still there. Maybe it's just me.

            2. I like Giang-nan on Garfield in MOnterey Park.
              Check this board with the phrase XLB or xiaolongbao which how they're usually described on the LA board.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jerome

                Thanks Jerome for the recommendation- Giang Nan is a very good place for XLB. They have a very extensive menu and everything I have tried there is very good. Also, on the cheap side for food.

              2. cool thanks!

                yumm... i'm totally craving it now!

                1. J&J for crab-pork soup dumplings (made with dungenese crab) More crab and better than the ones at Din Tai Fung.
                  301 W Valley Blvd. San Gabriel (few doors down from Mei Long Village).

                  Kang Kang Food Court
                  My new place for dumplings is Kang Kang Food Court. Kind of a cafeteria style-walk up and place your order and they'll deliver it like a Carl's Jr. Their XLB is pretty good and their pan fried bao soup dumpling (available after 11am) are pretty interesting. Lots of other kind of foods and dumplings(pan fried or boiled). Their noodles in their beef stew noodle soup are like thick udon noodles. Also a meat pie in a dough similar to the onion pancakes dough-meal in itself. Try their peach smoothie, I don't know how they do it but it tastes like its made from real peaches(who knows). They got Taiwanese, Shanghainese, Northern and Southern style Chinese food and a steam table to make your own 2 or 3 item combos.

                  For $20 two people can have a feast.
                  Kang Kang Food Court
                  Open 7am-midnight?
                  27 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra (corner of Garfield few doors down from Starbucks)

                  Some new won ton soup place just opened up next to Starbucks and the won ton are the size of golf balls--I'll have to check that out too.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: monku

                    Second Kang Kang on the pan fried soup dumplings... My tummy growls just thinking about them!

                    1. re: monku

                      how late do they serve their 'plings?

                    2. Ive had DTF, J and J and Mei Long.

                      I have to say I prefer J and J first - the taste is tops - my opinion because they boil and shell the crab there. I also like the wrappers - heavier and more hearty than the rest (a subjective opinion). They just seem more home made. Served with chicken soup seems mandatory.

                      Second I would take Mei Long. My only preference over DTF is that they serve that Green Tea Duck - an ATF of mine. Left alone I thing Mei Long and DTF are tied.

                      301 W Valley - any of the great Shanghai restaurants have been very easy on weekends. Crowds at lunch are light.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: wilp

                        OK, now I need to try Mei Long Village. I want to go to Mei Long Village on a Saturday or Sunday for lunch with a group of 10 people. Can I make reservations? If not, will I end up waiting forever?

                        1. re: glutton

                          Probable wait time around 30 minutes.

                          1. re: glutton

                            I have had really inconsistent experiences.

                            Two weeds ago I got there about 11:45 am and it was immediate seating for 7. It was starting to fill up when we left, but still under 20 minute wait, way under.

                            Last week was a little more crowded at noon so the 2 of us walked right into J and J an were seated quickly.. my green tea duck fix will have to wait.

                            No reservations I know of.

                            1. re: wilp

                              does anyone know how the XLB's are at 10053?

                              Mei Long XLB's are good.

                              1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                                10053 does not have XLB.

                                Ho Ho Kitchen, in the same strip mall as 10053, however does have XLB and they are very good.

                            2. re: glutton

                              I don't think they take reservations. Get there before noon (i.e. between 1130 and 1145). Otherwise, parking is a mess, and wait times get longer.

                          2. I know what you mean... I went to joe's shanghai when I was visiting NYC and there is nothing like it here in Los angeles. Let me know if you find one... gd luck

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: yhope143

                              I tried the Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown a couple of years ago and found their XLB (soup dumplings) to be rather off-putting. Perhaps I've just become accustomed to the light and clean taste of Din Tai Fung's version. JS's soup had the texture and intensity of viscous, flavorful grease... just too much, too heavy, too unrefined.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: yhope143

                                The first time I ate at Joe's Shanghai, I thought "gee, this is as good as J and J." In retrospect, I think JS is superior.

                                1. re: poggibonzzi

                                  Just got back from NYC and had Joe's Shanghai. My take is that the broth is on par, but the wrapper itself at JS is better, though neither are as paper thin as that at DTF.

                              2. Din Tai Fung is way too obvious and unoriginal an answer. You deserve better!
                                Try someplace like Luscious Dumplings on Las Tunas in San Gabriel!

                                704 W Las Tunas Dr Ste 4
                                San Gabriel, CA 91776
                                Phone: (626) 282-8695

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: SecretAsianMan

                                  No soup dumplings at Luscious Dumplings.

                                2. Don't recommend DTF. Went for the third time a few weeks ago, not juicy at all. Dough tends to be unevenly steamed. This last visit was the last straw, wasn't imagining the last couple of mediocre visits.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Sgee

                                    I so agree with you. I was able to try DTF one weekend and compared it to Canaan the next. I found DTF to be pretty bland compared to Canaan for the XLBs. I also found the other items only so-so. I did like their chicken soup though.

                                    1. re: justagthing

                                      Hey justagthing & Sgee,

                                      Just out of curiosity, did you eat at the Din Tai Fung (the across from Arcadia Bowling) with the fancy decor, or the original side next to Life Plaza?

                                      1. re: exilekiss

                                        I ate at the original location next to Life Plaza. Why?

                                        1. re: justagthing

                                          Hey justagthing,

                                          Ah thanks. I just had a suspicion that one side of DTF was inferior to the other (I had a meal recently at the newly opened side, and it was pretty bad). But I went back to the original side after that and it was noticeably better. But who knows? Maybe it's just inconsistency now, depending on what day of the week it is (certain cooks vs. their juniors)?

                                  2. DTF's pork dumplings are amazing, however one of the reasons that I feel that way is actually how thin the dough is (which someone else complained about). In addition they are one of the few or only places that I have seen that actually weigh each pc of dough. That being said the reason this is arguably one of the best chinese restaurants in NYC, Vancouver, LA or Hong Kong is due to its other dishes as well. The Shanghai rice cakes, pork chop fried rice, Hot and Sour soup, shrimp and pork dumpling, etc. I have probably been to DTF every Saturday for the past 4 months and never have had an off meal, which is rare for any chinese restaurant.

                                    1. The big favorites tend to be in that shopping plaza on Valley blvd at San Gabriel. It consist of Mei Long Village, J&J, and Dragon Mark. Throw in the ever popular Din Tai Fung in Arcadia, that's all everyone talked about.

                                      I like to throw in Supreme Dragon as a choice in Rowland Heights.

                                      -----
                                      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

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

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Pepsi Monster

                                        I concur: Supreme Dragon's pork dumplings are exceptional. And they're open late.

                                        On the topic of San Gabriel Square it's always worth mentioning the Green Village, which has incredible, tender Shanghainese meatballs, brightly flavored, crisp snow bean sprouts, and a big plate of gigantic, seaweed-laced fried fish phalluses.

                                      2. I've tried J&J, Mei Long Village and Din Tai Fung - closest to Joe's is J&J and their still 1/2 the size. Din Tai Fung are good but definitely a bit of a let down if you're looking for all that soupy goodness. Mei Long Village is not bad, but every time I've been there at least 1/2 the dumplings have been de-souped from sticking to the paper in the steamer. Joes is one of the first places I hit when I get back to NY - I crave those dumplings and the ones I've had here can dampen the need but never completely quell it (So here's hoping that someone reports in a great new find!)

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: foodhypnosis

                                          I'm really curious... my experience with joe's soup dumplings was thick dough, heavy & greasy soup. Is this in fact what you're looking for in LA, or did I hit Joe's on a bad day? If so, I don't think we do that here. Even the greasiest XLB in LA doesn't approach the gut bombs I ate at Joe's in NYC Chinatown.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            Never felt they were any of those things. When taught to eat Joes dumplings, learned to bite or poke a hole in and let the broth fill the spoon - which it did! Here the soup in the soup dumplings, while often flavorful, is a small teaspoonful. (Hence the reason NYers are always looking for soup dumplings as opposed to XLB - the "soup" is a big part of it.) I have only had the Crab and Pork version - the filling at Joe's is a nice sized little meatball with really distinctive crab flavor. I would say that they are hearty but I never thought of them as heavy!

                                            1. re: foodhypnosis

                                              I agree with foodhypnosis...Joe's soup dumplings are well seasoned, and the broth is full-bodied but not greasy or heavy. Maybe Mr. Taster came by on an off-day? I have so far only tried DTF in Arcadia and after the long wait was disappointed by the scant broth and lack of seasoning. Hardly lives up to its name of "Juicy Dumplings" on the menu. The crab and pork dumplings also did not have the same abundant crab flavor as Joe's, and other dishes served on the menu were average at best. I will try J&J next time as recommended by some folks in other postings!

                                          2. re: foodhypnosis

                                            We had the same "damage" problem with MLV's xlb on our last two visits. We've always liked this place (of course hearing about it on CH LA board), but we're losing our patience with this particular issue.

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              i went back to MLV this weekend for the first time in over 8months and had the same issue as well. what is the point of eating xlb if more than 50% of the xlb are broken?

                                              lame. they really need to address the issue quickly.

                                              however, the pork pump and shi zhi tou were both delicious as usual.

                                              1. re: wilafur

                                                My sentiments exactly. It's not like you can reclaim the soup, right? I'd like to see a nice leaf of nappa instead of the paper.

                                                The unctuous pork pump is good for at least three meals with us - one there, and two at home.

                                                As big as the shi zhi tou is, I can still eat a couple myself - they're just sooo good. Take away the rice, and I'm down to just one - gotta have rice. :)

                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                  not only do they need to use napa cabbage, they really need to change out the recipe for their wrapper. one order of xlb came to our table with 8 of the 10 xlb already broken. wtf?

                                                  i think we are gluttons....four of us went through 3 orders of xlb, a pork pump and a shi zhi tou. and not everyone was totally full. lols.

                                                  1. re: wilafur

                                                    >>i think we are gluttons....four of us went through 3 orders of xlb, a pork pump and a shi zhi tou. and not everyone was totally full.<<

                                                    Think? What's the deal? You folks must be feeding your pet tapeworms as well! :) Next time, you folks could just roll in and out of each xlb place in the shopping plaza - just order ahead...

                                          3. In Arcadia right off Baldwin and Arcadia Ave. there is a parking lot. In the corner is the best dumpling house in the nation. Din Tai Fung.626-446-8588. I live one block away and the guy who started it brought the first to the west coast. Also in the same area are places you can buy homemade frozen dumplings at around $15 per 50 in a bag.

                                            1. Din Tai Fung is fine, though pretty boring. I haven't had Joe's in years, but you might like the dumplings at Elite, in the old New Concept space in Monterey Park on Atlantic.

                                              They have some incredible roast pork dishes (the Manau pork manages to be fatty and crisp, yet bright and lean at the same time), and I'll be back soon to see if their crab plates match New Concept's (though I'm pretty sure we're dealing with the same owners). Jonathan Gold listed Elite in his 99 essentials list last year.

                                              Their soup dumplings are larger then most places in LA, and are delivered in a way I haven't seen before: within the steamer, the dumplings sit in little foil cups, like the mini-custards in pastry crusts. The broth was savory and satisfying, and the pork was
                                              perfect.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Jewnese

                                                Those aren't XLB (or soup dumplings)

                                              2. The short answer is no one in LA serves the same style of soup dumpling as Joe Shanghai in NYC. All the suggestions are for XLB, a much smaller and less doughy version of soup dumpling. Truth be told, people in LA don't think that Joe Shanghai's version is "authentic" at all. In Shanghai you can get this version of soup dumpling on the streets, usually served with a straw for you to draw out the soup inside. It's a much bigger and more doughy version of the "authentic" XLB.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: PeterL

                                                  During our week in Shanghai, we ate plenty of XLB like the style you can commonly get here (which is to say the non-gigantic straw version). Din Tai Fung seems to be the only place that rolls out the skins that thin. In both Shaghai and LA, the skins tend to be thicker. At Joe's Shanghai in New York, the XLB we had not only had the thickest skins (outside of the jumbo straw-sucking version in Shanghai) but the soup inside was like drinking a grease slick... more like a gravy than a soup, and way too oily. I much prefer the lighter touch of Din Tai Fung's XLB.

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    Actually the XLB at Dumpling House, just down the street at 921 Baldwin, has suspiciously thin wrap, just like DTF, just not as tasty.

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                      Hi Mr Taster,

                                                      Thanks for the info! :) So you enjoyed Din Tai Fung (Arcadia)'s XLB more than the versions you had in Shanghai? Good to know.

                                                      1. re: exilekiss

                                                        You know, it's funny.... Din Tai Fung was my first xiao long bao experience ever (in LA or otherwise) and as such it has become the standard, unfair as it may be, by which I measure all other XLB. My overall impression of Shanghai food, including XLB, is that it tends towards the greasy side and the XLB I ate there was no exception. I much prefer DTF's light, clear and brothy soup to the heavier versions.

                                                        Incidentally, the chicken soup at Din Tai Fung in the original Taipei outpost was otherworldly-good. Essence of chicken distilled into a bowl.

                                                        Mr Taster

                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                          Speaking of chicken soup, did you get to try the sea turtle soup in Shanghai?

                                                          And, yes, I agree with you. The DTF chicken soup is very good, probably the best item offered at DTF. Not the chicken soup a la Campbell's, but something entirely more ethereal.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            No sea turtle soup for us... I don't know if I could bring myself to eat them. There's something about eating an animal older than my grandmother that's unsettling to me.

                                                            Mr Taster

                                                          2. re: Mr Taster

                                                            the chicken soup is indeed out of this world at the dtf outpost in taipei.

                                                            as for the arcadia location, the xlb are decent....but i really do like the chao nian gao (stirfried rice cakes).

                                                            1. re: wilafur

                                                              Yes, I agree... I always liked the rice ovulets too.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                            2. re: Mr Taster

                                                              Hi Mr Taster,

                                                              Naruhodo. Thanks for the clarification and info. :) How did the Din Tai Fung's original branch (TW) compare with the Arcadia branch's XLB? Thanks.

                                                              1. re: exilekiss

                                                                The XLB across all DTF chains, including Arcadia, were very similar. During our 7 months traveling through Asia in 2006, we tried Din Tai Fung at the fancy historicaly shopping mall in Shanghai called Xintiandi. We tried them in Beijing as well. All were relatively consistent (including the prices, same as in LA despite the widely variant economic gap between our countries) though the prices at the outpost in Beijing were half of what they were everywhere else (about $4/tray versus $8).

                                                                www.travelpod.com/members/adamandeva (sadly we stopped updating regularly after crossing into China from Vietnam because Chinese internet cafes rarely had CD-ROM drives with which we could upload our photos).

                                                                Mr Taster

                                                      2. What about Mama Lu's?