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Shanghai soup dumplings?

Anyone know where I can find a good Shanghai style soup dumplings in the DC metro area? In chinese, they are known as "xiao long bao".

I'm looking for something that rivals Joe Shangai in NYC. The few places I've tried that dish here been huge disappointments, particularly A&J's.

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  1. You can do a search on this board. This has been asked several times before, and there are a myriad of responses. My own take is that there is nothing here as good as the xiao long bao you'd find in NY (or NJ for that matter). If you lower your standards, the dumplings are still tasty, but not terrific.

    1. We have nothing like Joe's Shanghai in the DC area. Any XLB you find here will be more like regular dumplings but wetter. Chinatown Express in DC has them. The condiments on the table make them a very good cheap lunch.

      1. As others have said, there isn't anything that compares with Joe's Shanghai in NYC.

        I've been disappointed with Chinatown Express in DC my last few visits there. A&J I like a lot, but xiao long bao is not something they're especially great at. North China in Bethesda and Shanghai Cafe in Potomac do respectable versions.

        1. The best one I've found is actually pre-made stuff at a chinese grocery store frozen food section and I steam it at home. Compare to NY and SF not great but passible. Better than anything around DC that I've found.

          Just picked up a new brand I haven't tried yet called soupy dumpling. I hope its good.

          1. Peking Village on Gallows has very good dumplings. They do a great northern Chinese brunch.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Ericandblueboy

              Is that in the same strip mall as Great Wall? What are some other notable dishes there? It's funny b/c I know the names of all my favorite dishes in Chinese but I'm not really able to read them.

              1. re: ffxjack

                Yes, a few doors north of the supermarket.

                1. re: ffxjack

                  I like to start with a fried cruller then juicy buns, pot stickers, steamed dumplings, pan fried buns, leeks turnovers, ma la tendon, tripe, etc. Not able to read Chinese could be a problem since most places give you piece of paper in Chinese and you have to check off what you want. Peking Village & A&J have similar brunch items. A&J has more variety of noodles (they serve Taiwansese food) while Peking Village has more spicy food (Sichuan cuisine).

                  1. re: Ericandblueboy

                    Is the peking village a buffet place?

                    1. re: Soup

                      Peking Village in Merrifield has been closed a few months now. There's a Peruvian chicken place there.

              2. I had some excellent xiao long bao at Bob's 88 Shabu Shabu in Rockville the other night. Flavorful filling, skins not too thick, and all 6 of the dumplings in the order had "soup" inside.

                1. I can't vouch for this, since I've not been there, but the local Chinese newspaper's food critic believed the best XLB is to be found at Shanghai Cafe in Potomac, MD. Anyone tried it lately?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: orangemix

                    I listed that in my post above. It's probably been a year since I've been there, and it's WAY out in the middle of nowhere, but they did have pretty great XLB when I was last there.

                  2. Try a restaurant called "Burma Road" in Gaithersburg, Md. on S. Fredrick Rd. Just down the street from the big dim sum place called New Fortune. If you are lucky and can get fresh made soup buns, they come about 98% to Joe's Shanghai. Joe's Shanghai are perfect, nothing in the US can match Joe's that I have found in CONUS USA.

                    17 Replies
                    1. re: joeykangaroo

                      Wow, that's quite a rec!!!

                      What do you mean.... if you can get fresh made? They MUST be freshly steamed. There is no alternative, is there? Or do you mean that sometimes they are unavailable?

                      1. re: Steve

                        I think he means that they use carts at New Fortune and if the turnover isn't high, you get food that's been out for a bit.

                        Although Joey, your post is slightly confusing, do you mean Burma Road or New Fortune? I've never seen soup dumpling sat Burma Road.

                        1. re: reiflame

                          I think he means soup dumplings at Burma Road - they don't have them at New Fortune.

                          1. re: DanielK

                            Yes I mean Burma Road. I think it is called juicy pork bun or dumpling or somethig like that. I recognize it by its chinese character name, look for the chinese character for "small" as the first character. It looks like a "J" with a short hash mark on either side of the like this: 'J.' (except the hashmarks are lower).

                              1. re: DanielK

                                funny: to remember this character for "small" -- pronounced "yao" -- i thought of the huge chinese basketball player, yao ming! http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/ig0_y7...

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  It's pronounced like the first syllable in 'shower.' Maybe your audio playback is clipping. Of course, ask a dozen Chinese people and maybe you'd get a slightly different pronunciation each time, a bit more like syao'.

                                  But yao would not work at all.

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    oh that's too bad. now i have to put yao ming out of my mind!....and clean out my ears.

                                2. re: DanielK

                                  Yes DanielK. That is the correct symbol. Look for that character in the first of four characters in the chinese character name for the soupy bun item.

                                  Remember to order only one to two orders at most at one time, you can always order more if you want more. They get cold quickly and then they don't taste as good. Also remember, the soup inside is intensely hot temperture wise, so be careful bite a little hole to drain out the soup first.

                                  1. re: joeykangaroo

                                    Oh, no directions needed - I'm a Joe's Shanghai veteran. :-)

                              2. re: DanielK

                                I don't know if the chinese text is viewable without the right fonts installed, but at the wikipage for XLB, the caption for the picture will show you what the characters are:

                            1. re: Steve

                              Actually, I think Burma Road may be making them to order. My recommendation is order no more than two orders at a time, this way they will always be hot. We ordered six orders and since all six comes at the same time, the bottom ones were cold. Not the restaurnat fault, our fault for not eating them fast enough - lesson learned.

                              1. re: joeykangaroo

                                So, just wanted to report back.

                                We've been to Burma Road twice now, and sure enough, they have Xiao Long Bao - Soup Dumplings! They have both Burmese and Chinese chefs.

                                They're labeled as "Steamed Buns w/Pork Fillings" on the menu, but it's not on the regular menu - there's an insert that they have on weekends with some dim sum-type dishes (both Chinese and Burmese). From what I could gather, you can get the XLB at other times, but you have to know to ask.

                                Anyway, they really were excellent - probably the best I've had in the DC area. All 6 in the order had soup, the skins were just the right thickness to retain the soup without tearing or being gummy, and the dumpling was very flavorful.

                                Highly recommended. We skipped around the rest of the "dim sum" menu a bit. Most were quite good, but the Burmese better than the Chinese.

                                Burma Road
                                617 S Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

                                1. re: DanielK

                                  Awesome, I will have to give it a try! I love that place; when they first opened I was really afraid they wouldn't be long for this world since it was always dead at lunch, but it seems to have found a following (I'm sure the write up in the Post didn't hurt).

                                  1. re: reiflame

                                    So to ask again the original question (will be in DC in Sept), no car, near downtown----- any place to get soup dumplings?? (IN DC itself). Sorry that looks like yelling but isnt :)

                                    1. re: aviva5675

                                      It's not something I would focus on like it's some kind of specialty here. Chinatown Express is the place to go for a good cheap lunch of soup dumplings. Don't expect them to be delicate or particularly tasty, but as I said before, the condiments on the table help make for a satisying experience. They have xlb at Shanghai Tea House on Wisconsin Ave. Not downtown. Decent, more 'authentic' than Chinatown Express, but kinda boring.

                                      1. re: Steve

                                        Eat First on H-street between 7th and 6th has good dumplings

                                        Eat First Restaurant
                                        609 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                          2. Got a hankering for XLB and just ended up driving to Phili. Had about 3 dozen picked up some sandwiches and came home. The XLB were excellent.

                            1. OK, its been a while and the question begs to be asked again....

                              Is there anyone doing shanghai soup dumplings around the DC area? (yes, I know about the chinatown express one and I not really a fan).


                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Soup

                                Burma Road in Gaithersburg still does a nice job with them.

                                Burma Road
                                617 S Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

                                1. re: Soup

                                  We have been searching for decent soup dumplings for a while that is comprable to NYC's around the DC area. We've found a few such as Chinatown Express and Bob's 66 (now closed). Lo and Behold!!! We found a restaurant oddly enough in our own city of McLean that serves decent soup dumplings! China Kingdowm off Old Dominion serves them on their chinese menu. Restaurant atmosphere is stuck in the 80's and service is slow but call in advance to have them make the dumplings ahead of time.

                                  Chinatown Express
                                  126 Carroll Island Rd, Baltimore, MD 21220

                                  1. re: foodspy

                                    Bob's 66 is closed?? Are you sure you don't mean 88 - The Shabu Shabu place?

                                    1. re: Guy Incognito

                                      My apologies! Yes, you are right, I meant Shabu Shabu 88 is closed ( actually condemned!) Bob's 66 is well and thriving. Thanks for catching my mistake.

                                2. There are two major kinds of soup dumplings. Xiao Long Bao (xlb) and Tang Bao.

                                  XLB (little pork buns) are tiny. The only ones in the area like that are at A & J. The problem with them is that they tear easily, so it is difficult to get them in your mouth. If you do manage it, they are very close to what you'll get in Shanghai. Except - they only have one variety, pork. In Shanghai you can get in many varieties, and I much prefer pork and crab.

                                  Tang Bao (soup buns) are very large and contain a lot of soup. They look like The Blob. You can get excellent ones at Joe's Shanghai in NYC. I have not seen any here.

                                  A & J Restaurant
                                  1319 Rockville Pike C, Rockville, MD