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Stellar meal at Shanghai Dumpling King - Outer Richmond, SF

I ate w/ two dining companions at Shanghai Dumpling King tonight - I hadn't been here in a long time, and I was very impressed with this visit. Everything was good.

Xiao long bao - Smaller than the ones at Sunny Shanghai, and still maybe not quite as good (for me) as the ones there or at Shanghai House.....but still very good, and different. Less broth, but the meat was more tender and flavorful. For me, it's kind of like comparing winning twenty $10 bills, ten $20 bills or four $50 bills. Each might look and feel a bit different, but overall awesomeness is actually the same.

Pan fried pork buns - The filling is very similar (maybe identical?) to the XLB, but without the broth. The outside is thicker and browned at the bottom. Also rather small compared to the same dish at other Shanghainese places, but these are really really tasty. I might have liked them better than the XLB.

Bean curd sheet w/ edamame and preserved vegetables - An excellent rendition of this dish. At Shanghai Dumpling Shop in Millbrae this dish is too dry, but here it was served in a bowl with plenty of broth. Nice garlic flavor, generous portion. Highly recommended.

Mu-Shu pork - Nice char to the pork and veggies, and a good flavor even before combining with hoisin sauce. Some of the best mu-shu I've had in SF.

Egg puff pastry - This dessert is really excellent, and I feel sad that it took me this long to find out about this! Three large balls of puffy, fried, eggy dough coated w/ granulated sugar. Delicious. I probably could have eaten three myself, but I had to share.

After dinner we drove to the Sunset to get bubble tea at Wonderful Foods - one friend had the fresh honey dew smoothie which was very nice, and I had my usual green milk tea.

All in all, a great evening in the Richmond and Sunset. Shanghai Dumpling King will definitely be back in my regular rotation.

Dave MP

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  1. Here's the link. I always forget that part.

    Shanghai Dumpling King
    3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dave MP

      Xiao long bao--are these crab soup dumplings? I had some sort of crab soup dumpling when I was in Shanghai last year, and they blew my mind. I'd love to find something similar in the bay area, preferably east bay. Any suggestions?

      1. re: Dave MP

        Completely agree re xiao long bao--meat very flavorful and the wrappers are thin with just enough chew. Last visit (4th of July) we boldly ventured beyond our usual three courses and tried the "crispy eels"--huge tangle of fried eels, each about 4" long, circumference a little larger than buccatini (what a wonderful surprise--I have never had them in this small size, all the more surface to enjoy), fried to a delicate, non-oily crunch with a gorgeous savory sauce that brought out the eeliness. Fabulous dish.

      2. Nice report. I haven't had a bad meal at SDK yet. Definitely on my "will stop if near by list".

        Besides the XLB, my favs are the Shanghai noodles in peanut sauce and the preserved pork (ham) and green in steel pot (not sure of the exact dish names...sorry)...both peasant food at its best and I like them so much I always order both with usually 3 orders of XLB (with at least one other diner).

        I thought the Lion's head soup was very good but you sort of need a large(r) crew to eat it unless you want a lot. On my list is the onion/scallion pancakes.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          Two (tiny!) women at the table next to us were sharing about 5 dishes, and one of them looked like lion's head soup. We also saw another table with the scallion pancakes, which looked great, though we ultimately decided not to order them.

          Like David, I loved the donuts (called "suger egg puff" on the menu), the xlb, and the pan-fried pork buns. I did not like the texture or flavor of the bean curd sheet--probably the dish, not the rendition, was simply not my cup of tea.

          The mu shu pork was very good, though I think I've had a better homemade version.

          About this restaurant, I also like how friendly the staff are. It's a bustling little place, and at 7 p.m. on a Sunday we had to wait a little bit for a table, but the convivial atmosphere was much appreciated.

          1. re: pane

            I love both the texture and flavor of those bean curd sheets. My mouth waters just thinking about this dish. I wish I hadn't eaten it all - I would have had leftovers.

            1. re: pane

              Don't be fooled, those tiny women can pack it away! For the record, if it's 3-4 people dining I'll get the lions head. With only 2, it cuts into on the XLB order...and it's sorta in the same range as the peanut noodles.

              You're right about the pleasant nature, both the staff/owners and the customers seem to be a similar vibe...very little pretense. People waiting always seem to be happy and asking other tables what they ordered is usually greeted nicely. Sadly you don't see that as often as you'd like in SF.

              My little trick to to go to Simple Pleasures Cafe across the street for coffee/tea afterwards. Nice old school cafe that's been around for a long time. Nothing special food/drink wise but has a similar low key comfy/funky vibe. I have those two linked now.

              1. re: ML8000


                Simple Pleasures Cafe
                3434 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

          2. Another "must" on the menu is cucumber salad - kissed with minced garlic and sesame oil.
            Sauteed eggplant is also prepared very well with nice vinegary finish, large portion

            1. Thanks for the report! I've tried and liked every dish on your list except the Mu-Shu Pork, so now I know what my next new dish will be.

              1. ,,,from a previous post...
                ,,,, warm..crispy...eggy..sugary at Hong Kong Flower Lounge...there they were translated as "Egg Bombs" (Jah Dahn) but other places have a different name for them...which I don't recall...because I had a little language fiasco over Jah Dahn (egg bomb) once..apparantly with a weak memory/mouth connection....I asked a waitress for "Sex Bomb!".(in my version of Brooklyn/Chinese (Sino-Brooklynese?!) ... she giggled...Yimster guffawed!! and I blushed..!

                1. I just went to Shanghai Dumpling King two weeks ago after reading all the discussions of XLB here on the board. We actually went to SDK after we went to Shanghai House because I wanted to compare the XLB at both places in the same visit and couldn't resist getting the crab soup dumplngs either.

                  I thought that the XLB at SDK had significantly thinner skin, but some of them contained a bit less broth than those at Shanghai House. However, I felt that the soup at SDK to be much richer and more flavorful. These two things added together is enough for me to deem SDK the winner of the two. As for the crab soup dumplings, I thought they were very good, full of the sweet seafood taste in the soup and the added eggs on top is a nice addition of texture and taste. I would definitely trek out to outer Richmond again for XLB at SDK!!

                  I've attached pictures of the XLB at Shanghai House, at SDK and then lastly the crab soup dumplings.

                  1. Ok I absolutely loved this place!!! I wish I had their cousin or clone in New Orleans but alas we have a tragic deficit of quality Chinese cuisine in this city. Oh we've got Vietnamese and some decent Japanese but no XLB, homemade noodle dishes, sugar egg puffs, etc. Typically I don't go to the same restaurant on the very same night but I couldn't get enough... and I brought my extended family.

                    The first night we arrived about a half hour after the fog rolled in from the Pacific. How perfect for some warm perfectly seasoned and quickly delivered soup dumplings! There were four of us on this occasion and we ordered the XLB, Shanghai noodles, Shanghai soup, and sugar egg puffs. The XLB were perfect and better than I even imagined after seeing Bourdain eat them in Shanghai (China) on No Reservations. The Shanghai noodles were also better than expected - homemade, thick but not overwhelming, irregularly shaped, perfectly seasoned and stir fried with bok choy. The Shanghai soup was to satisfy our love of soup especially on a chilly afternoon. It was warm and a little salty but I would suggest the Lion's Head Meatball soup instead which we enjoyed on our second evening at SDK. The Shanghai soup was relatively flavorless and didn't impress. The sugar egg puffs were wonderful and moist without being oily - just a delightful little treat. I loved how the wait and kitchen staff brought them around to sell whenever they made some fresh ones. We weren't even at dessert time when they brought them out but took a couple orders on the spot, none the less.

                    On the second evening the four of us brought along my mother and aunt and we got 3 orders of the XLB since they were the best on our first visit. We also got the Shanghai noodles again, couple orders of the sugar egg puffs, the beef and broccoli, and the Lion's Head Meatballs in broth or soup. My boyfriend had seen another table order the meatballs on our previous visit and wanted to get them. Our waitress suggested we get them in the broth or soup and they were so amazingly moist with some rice noodles in a wonderful broth soup. I loved this dish! I've had meatballs before ( I work in an Italian restaurant) but never like this. Since they were served in the soup broth they were perfectly moist and meaty... yum!! Our waitress was very helpful although at first I was a little worried that she might not understand English too well. She understood me perfectly and instructed us on how to order more hot tea (just lift the lid up on the tea kettle and leave sitting on the table) as well as advised us to order the meatballs in the soup. The total bill for all of us (6 people), including dessert, was less than $65 with tax! I was happy to tip 25%. What an exceptional meal!! We ALL had a wonderful time.

                    P.S. - The bill is written in Chinese so you can't even tell if it's correct but it's always worth it and always less than you would expect for the quality and experience.

                    So to sum it up... Go to Shanghai Dumpling King and try it out. It's definitely worth a try and you'll most probably be back. I certainly will whenever I'm in the Bay Area.