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Aug 26, 2009 08:25 AM

Xiao long bao-soup dumplings-fanatic inquiry

Hi all
I'll be in Philly at a meeting Oct 9,10 and 11... and Im a soup dumpling junkie. Looks like there might be a couple options for them in town, and I was wondering where to focus my efforts?

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  1. Dim Sum Garden! I was just there yesterday... love that friggin place.....

    1. I second Dim Sum Garden, but I am intrigued by Sakura Mandarin - Race street between 10th and 11th. It was recently reviewed in the Phila Inquirer and they said the owners used to be at Dim Sum Garden and CL loved their soup dumplings. Anyone been?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bigley9

        I like Sakura's dumplings better than Dim Sum Garden's. The don't have as much soup inside the dumplings as DSG's, but I liked the soup flavor and the dumpling skins a lot better.

        Btw, has anyone tried the little dumpling shop on 10th near the Chinatown gate? It's called "Chinese Restaurant" and looks like it seats 5 people at most. I see xiao long bao on their Chinese-only menu, but I've always been distracted by other places when I'm in Chinatown.

      2. Had the soup dumplings from Sakura Mandarin last night (and scallion pancakes) they were excellent! I believe a side by side tasting with Dim Sum Garden is in my near future!

        5 Replies
        1. re: Bigley9

          the things we do for research.....

          1. re: jessicheese

            I volunteer to udnertake this during my upcoming visit. Anyone want to jump in the fray with me? And contrary to my silly post above, the dates are SEPT 10, 11 and 12 (Too many meetings....)

            1. re: Missy

              Sakura and Dim Sum Garden are the only 2 options as far as I know. fivefive is right about the flavor and amount of soup. Sakura has more variety of other Shanghai food so that should be your first stop. Also, I find Sakura's XLB dough to be slightly better, One critical component is thickness of dough; both are quite thick (which IMHO is not good). Sakura's version, though, did have the wrinkly top part where the dough closed somewhat thinner and thus cooked more evenly as the rest of the dough. DSG's version usually has the top half cooked because it's too thick.

              The pork (Nanxiang flavor) and pork/crab roe version are, IMHO, the only authentic versions; try those first. Sakura also offer the pork/shrimp version.

              1. re: Missy

                Did you go Missy? I did a side by side on Sunday and I agree that DSG's has more soup and I also like the overall flavor of Sakura's better, but DSG's dough was much thinner than Sakura's which I really enjoyed! Perhaps a different person in the kitchen? That said, I'll continue to eat them both - probably based on who has a nearby parking space when I am passing by!

                1. re: Bigley9

                  just went to sakura couple of days ago; xlb was much soupier than usual. although it was a little too peppery. the xlbs from the same basket were also quite obviously uneven in sizes.

                  haven't been to dsg for a long time.

          2. sakura mandarin, we have really been digging that place recently, love the soup dumplings but also their sushi (i kid you not), scallion pancakes, all their pork dishes, chinese spnach are also excellent, plus the staff couldn;t be sweeter.

            i like dim sum garden too but there menu is a bit limited otherwise and the service is real slow if they are crowded

            1 Reply
            1. re: nittany

              ate at sakura mandarin today, liked it quite a bit. i like their soup dumplings more than dim sum garden. definitely plan on going back.

            2. We made a special trip from Glenside to DSG today with the Mrs. and 4 20 year olds.
              It was good but not good enough for a return trip, we spent 1/2 hour looking for parking, parked 3 blocks away (it was 26 degrees today, wind chill =8) and realized the time limit on the meter was only 1 hour. I refuse to pay $20 to park for a 2 hour lunch.

              We had the soup dumplings for the first time,2 orders of regular (pork) and 1 order shrimp crab, 2 scallion pancakes, eel with dry noodles, and duck with dry noodles, dumplings with noodles soup.

              the soup dumplings were very good, although I could not really taste the crab shrimp. the pancakes were very good, the eel was just ok, the duck was good but our portion was mostly bone. we were disappointed in the noodles, almost everyone agreed they were mushy.

              I would go again as a lunch trip while doing other things downtown but with all the other choices available I doubt I would go back.

              6 Replies
                1. re: coolgeek

                  given that seagulls parking review was as long as the food review, I'm guessing that going to sakura won't make much a difference.

                  1. re: urbanfabric

                    I can't imagine eating at DSG for two hours. We're usually in and out of there pretty quick, so one hour parking is fine for us.

                    Actually, we usually go for dinner, so after 6pm, parking is free. There's also a key parking spot in a loading zone whose time limit ends early. Right around the corner.

                    1. re: Boognish

                      a bit off topic, perhaps, but from glenside to DSG, i'd take the train.

                      1. re: Bob Loblaw

                        yes to the train- as for 2 hours at DSG<Thats what i expected it to take for a nice lunch for 6, I didnt know that it was so small and quick almost like a take out place with tables. My expectation was a restaurant like Joy Cin Lau or Sang Kee.. I will be sure to do a little more homework before I shlep 6 to center city for lunch. I am sure if you live or work nearby it is a great place for good food fast..

                        Is Sakura a restaurant or like DSG?

                        1. re: seagulls1

                          Sakura's more of a restaurant. probably a bit nicer than sang kee, but overal similar vibe (different food, though).